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Tandoori Chicken

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Tandoori chicken simply does not get better than this!

Tandoori chicken is so good and there are many ways to make it. This is an easy tandoori chicken recipe from my cookbook ‘The Curry Guy BBQ’ though you could also cook it indoors if you like. All is explained below about how this tandoori chicken can be prepared and cooked.

Tandoori chicken

What is tandoori chicken?

In Hindi and Urdu it is called tandoori murgh. Tandoori chicken is a popular marinated chicken that is often cooked in a tandoor oven. You don’t have to cook it in a tandoor oven, however because the name tandoori chicken doesn’t just refer to the cooking method but the flavour or the delicious tandoori marinade.

How do you make a tandoori chicken marinade?

The marinade is usually a combination of yoghurt, garlic and ginger paste and many different spices such as cumin, coriander, chilli powder, turmeric, garam masala and tandoori masala. All of these ingredients are whisked together and then applied to the chicken.

For best results, you marinate the chicken for at least 24 hours but you can go straight to cooking if you’re in a rush.

How is this tandoori chicken recipe different?

With most tandoori chicken recipes, like this one, the skin is removed from the chicken. This works well and is of course healthier. With this recipe, you leave the skin on, though you can remove it if you like.

The tandoori chicken marinade for this recipe is also similar to what you find in jars at the shop but much better. As you want a crispy skin, the yoghurt is left out of the marinade.

Doesn’t tandoori marinade have to include yoghurt?

There are no rules! Yes, most tandoori chicken marinades include yoghurt and if you want to add it, go ahead and add a few tablespoons to the marinade ingredients.

The thing is, yoghurt does not add a lot of flavour. You use yoghurt or butter milk in tandoori marinades because it is a natural tenderiser. The farmed chicken we find in the West is already very tender so it just isn’t needed.

How is tandoori chicken cooked?

You can use this marinade to cook any style of tandoori chicken. In this tandoori chicken recipe, the chicken was cooked whole just as it came minus the skin. You could also cut the chicken into small pieces and skewer it.

For this tandoori chicken recipe, you butterfly the chicken. Having cooked many whole chickens, I think this is the best way to cook a whole bird.

It cooks faster and is much juicier when cooked flat on the grill.

Do you have to cook tandoori chicken on a barbecue?

Absolutely not! You will love the smoky flavour that is produced when cooked over a fire but you could cook this whole roast chicken in the oven too. Just cook in the oven at the same temperature or close to the barbecue instructions below.

If chicken tikka is more your thing, this too can be cooked either over a fire or in a pan or oven. You could use this same marinade and try my sheet pan tandoori chicken or pan fried tandoori chicken tikka.

What do you serve with tandoori chicken?

If you’d like to make your tandoori chicken into a feast, you’ve come to the right place. You could just go for a side of Basmati rice or mushroom fried rice.

If you’d like to make naans, why not try one of these?  Instant naans, Peshwari naans, stove top naans, keema naans, garlic naans, tandoor naans (if you have a tandoor oven), or if you’re cooking outdoors, karahi naans. Oh, and really easy but just as delicious are homemade chapatis. Tandoori chicken is so good torn apart and wrapped up in a hot homemade bread.

You might also like to serve this with a good and easy tarka dal or slowly simmered dal makhani.

Want to start your tandoori chicken feast off right? How about fried shop bought poppadoms or if you’re feeling ambitious, make your own poppadoms from scratch and serve them with coriander chutney, red onion chutney, and/or tamarind chutney.

Do you have any other tandoori chicken recipes?

Sure do. As mentioned above you can cook tandoori chicken in many ways. Some tandoori chicken recipes, like this one are great served simply with a little coriander chutney.

Others, such as tandoori chicken tikka can be served with chutney or stirred into a curry house style chicken curry.

Here are many tandoori chicken recipes for you to try…

Mild and indulgent, you are going to love this malai chicken tikka! If you like a bit of sweet and spicy, go for these shashlik chicken tikkas!

The most famous tandoori chicken out there is tandoori chicken tikka just like you find at curry houses. This can be added to a curry with excellent results.

You might also like to go with something more exotic such as the mild and tasty Afghan kebab.  Delicious chicken seekh kebabs, tandoori chicken roulades, hariyali chicken and Pakistani chicken tikka are all firm favourites.

Do you have any other tandoori recipes?

Sure do. Just head over to the barbecue section of my blog. You’ll find loads of tandoori recipes there! 


Yield: 4

Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori chicken
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes


  • 1.5kg (3lb 5oz) whole chicken
  • 70ml (1⁄4 cup) melted ghee mixed with 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp tandoori masala
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp amchoor (dried mango powder)
  • 1 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder (more or less to taste, or mild paprika)
  • 2 tbsp garlic, ginger and chilli (see note)
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp distilled white vinegar
  • 4 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil
  • Red food colouring powder (optional)


  1. Place the chicken in an upright sitting position on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, slice down between the breasts to butterfly. Many people remove the backbone to butterfly chicken rather than doing it in this way, but I find that the chicken lies flatter when cooking if you slice between the breasts.
  2. Lay the chicken on the cutting board breast side up and press down hard all over to flatten.
  3. Next, whisk together all of the marinade ingredients, adding just enough water to make a smooth paste – about 3 tablespoons. I use a little red food colouring, too, but it adds no flavour so it is optional.
  4. I usually slide a couple of fingers under the skin all over the breasts, legs and thighs so that I can rub the meat with the marinade as well as the skin on top. This really gets the flavour into the chicken.
  5. Rub the marinade all over the chicken and under the skin if you like, then cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for 1 hour, or overnight.
  6. When ready to cook, set up your barbecue for indirect heat roasting. Your target temperature is 250°C (480°F) or there about. If using a normal kettle barbecue, be sure to place a drip tray with a little water in it on in the cooler side opposite the coals. This isn’t necessary if using a ceramic barbecue.
  7. Place the butterflied chicken breast side up on the side of the barbecue without any coals and cook until the internal temperature is 75°C (165°F). This should take 45–60 minutes. Baste the chicken from time to time with the melted ghee until it is all used up.


Write additional notesThe garlic, ginger and chilli paste used in this tandoori chicken recipe is easy to make and can also be purchased. Garlic and ginger paste is made by blending equal amounts of garlic and ginger with just enough water to make a paste. Garlic, ginger and chilli paste is done the same way. Just add as much green chilli as you think you can handle.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 404Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 53mgSodium: 2982mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 4gSugar: 6gProtein: 18g

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I hope you enjoy this tandoori chicken recipe. If you do try it, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you. 

English Rose

Tuesday 17th of October 2023

Is the amchoor absolutely vital to this recipe as I don't have it!! Thanks x

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 17th of October 2023

Just use a little bit of lemon juice to taste instead. Thanks Dan


Wednesday 7th of June 2023

Is it ok to roast the chooky in the oven on a high heat if one doesn't have a barbeque?

Dan Toombs

Friday 9th of June 2023

Yes, that works well. Thanks Dan

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