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Tandoori Chicken

By , from the Culinate Kitchen collection
Serves 6
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 4 hours


There are many recipes for tandoori chicken, but this one, from Moni Pillai, is my favorite. Since the ingredients are prepared in advance for the chicken to marinate, there is little to do come dinner time, making this a great dinner-party dish.


6 pieces chicken drumsticks and thighs, skinless but not boneless
~ Salt
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
¼ tsp. cayenne
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
¼ tsp. turmeric powder
½ cup plain yogurt (low-fat is fine)
3 Tbsp. grated (or finely chopped and crushed) onion
1 tsp. garam masala
½ tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. paprika
½ tsp. black pepper
1 to 2 Tbsp. melted butter
~ Lime wedges, for garnish
~ Fresh onion sliced in rings, for garnish


  1. With a sharp knife, make several deep diagonal cuts, 1 inch apart, in the chicken pieces down to the bone. Place chicken pieces in a rectangular dish with deep sides and sprinkle with salt; set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the lime juice, cayenne, garlic, ginger, ½ tsp. of salt, and turmeric. Smear this paste over and into the chicken. Refrigerate chicken for 30 minutes.
  3. In a medium-size bowl, mix together the yogurt, onion, garam masala, and cumin. Pour this mixture over the chicken, mix well, then cover. Marinate at least 3 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
  4. When ready to cook the chicken, move an oven rack to just above center and preheat oven to 500 degrees. On a shallow baking sheet covered with foil, arrange chicken pieces. Sprinkle chicken with paprika, black pepper, and salt. Mix the leftover marinade with the melted butter and set aside.
  5. Place chicken in preheated oven and cook for 20 minutes. Baste with leftover marinade, turn chicken pieces over, baste, and cook for another 10 minutes or until cooked through. The chicken should be moist and tender, but not pink inside. Serve on a warm plate garnished with the lime wedges and onion rings.


Culinate editor’s note: If you have leftovers, cube the meat and mix it with mayonnaise and Saveur’s minty raisin chutney for an excellent curried-chicken salad. Layer the chicken salad with fresh lettuce leaves on toasted sandwich bread for a light summer lunch.

Read more on the pleasures of Indian cooking.

This content is from the Culinate Kitchen collection.

There are 2 comments on this item
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0% recommend this recipe
1. by anonymous on Jan 23, 2008 at 5:59 PM PST

when you say that the onion is grated would that be like a box grater or like a hard cheese sized grater

2. by Carrie Floyd on Jan 24, 2008 at 9:30 AM PST

I have used a box grater, but you could try one with smaller holes. Ultimately you want to end of up with small bits of smashed onion, small enough to adhere to the chicken when mixed into the yogurt marinade.

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