This is my soul food and I just can’t imagine grilled chicken if this recipe is not around. This delicacy is loved not only in India but around the world as well. A full body tandoori chicken is a delight, not just in terms of its taste and juiciness but also in watching the grilling process live. Grilling the chicken by separate parts such as thighs, legs or wings are equally incredible.
The métier of Tandoori Chicken
This is an Indian origin recipe with its roots connected to the Punjab province. The marinade is done in yogurt & spices and then the chicken is roasted in a hot tandoor oven (a traditional cylindrical-shaped clay oven). The chicken has a vibrant color because of the spices used.
The catchy part is the tandoor (clay oven) which is found in restaurants or food joints. So to imitate the same flavor we can use a charcoal grill, gas grill, or grill pan. I prefer chicken legs or thighs but you can try wings or any other cuts accordingly (ask your vendor for specific cuts).
And most importantly I never used any food coloring in this recipe; it’s just the spices that effect in a natural vibrant color. All I can say is Tandoori Chicken the signature dish of India and we’re proud to have it in our long list of luscious cuisines.
I recommend fresh and frozen both
In any grilled chicken recipe, both fresh cut or frozen (packaged) meat can produce great taste. Since I’m preparing leg pieces, I’m using packaged chicken drumsticks (else I’ll end up buying 4-5 whole chicken).
The way it’s grilled, you can always expect a mouth-watering outcome. It’s seared and sizzling outsides, incredibly juicy and tender insides.
The drumsticks marinade for tandoori chicken
I recommend here to begin with gently tossing the ground spices in a pan just over medium for a minute or two. If you’re in a hurry then you can skip this part. No need to toss, just add the spices as it is.
Now for the mixing part, we’ll take a bowl and Greek yogurt (you can use homemade yogurt or any other), oil, lemon juice, and season with salt & pepper.
Quick Tip: While tossing the ground spices, make sure to keep the duration for less than 2 minutes. They burn easily, so keep stirring most of the time.
We’ll add the chicken legs and coat the mixture well over it. After the mixing, either cover the bowl with plastic wrap or transfer the marinade in a large tray. Let’s allow it to rest for at least 3-4 hours. Overnight is best.
Quick Tip: Make a few slits on the chicken so the spice rub gets inside it.
Time to start the grilling train
It’s time to preheat the grill to a maximum temperature of 450 degrees F if you’re using a gas or propane grill. If you’re using open charcoal grill make sure to add as much charcoal as possible to keep the heat intact.
- Now clean the grill grates and oil them properly using a brush.
- Place the chicken on the grill and cook them for 10-14 minutes as we are using a part that contains bone. Usually boneless part takes 5-7 minutes per side.
- Flip on the other side and cook for the same duration. While flipping makes sure the little uncooked part has also faced the heat properly. The charred effect delivers a perfect smokey tandoori chicken.
Quick Tip: Brush the chicken with little oil in between, so that it doesn’t stick to the grill grates and the exterior is moist.
When it’s done allow it to rest for a few minutes, serve with lime wedges and cilantro.
Tandoori Chicken (Grilled Chicken Indian Style)
- 3 lbs chicken legs, trimmed off excess fat
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (or yogurt of your choice)
- 2 tbsp olive oil (or vegetable oil), extra oil for grilling
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 tbsp fresh minced garlic and ginger
- 1 tbsp paprika (chili powder)
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper(add more or less as per your taste)
- 1/4 tsp cardamom (optional)
- Salt and fresh ground pepper
- Fresh cilantro(coriander leaves) for garnish
- Add all the spices (paprika, cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and cardamom) in a pan and toast them gently over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. (The roasted spices adds up on flavor, skip this step if you’re in a hurry.
- In a large bowl add the yogurt, oil, lemon juice, garlic,ginger, roasted spices from the pan and whisk them, then season with salt and pepper.
- Now add the chicken drumsticks and coat the mixture well.
- After this step transfer the marinade to refrigerator and leave them for at least 3 hours.
- Let's prepare the grill. Preheat it to a medium-high heat to about 450 degrees F
- Clean the grill gates and brush with some oil. Now place the chicken and grill for about 10-12 minutes per side (as it is a bone-in piece and 5-7 per side for boneless).
- Continue cooking and rotating on the grill until the internal temperature of the chicken registers 165 degrees F. Remove from the grill and allow to rest for 2-3 minutes.
- Serve warm with cilantro and mint chutney.
- As I said charcoal or gas grill is the best option for this recipe.
- Preheat a griddle with the grill on medium-high. A grill basket does not need to be preheated.
- Cook the drumsticks over a medium grill
This is a general nutrition chart for one serving. The number of servings is stated above and is my estimate of the normal serving size for this recipe. The above nutritional information is estimated and may vary from the actual results you have. This is home cooking, and there are many variables. To taste ingredients such as salt will be my estimate of the average user.