Grilled Tandoori Chicken


Flavored by a yogurt and spice paste boasting ginger, cumin, and coriander, this chicken is reminiscent of ones cooked in a tandoor oven. For this version, we remove the chicken skin and score the flesh so that the spice paste penetrates the meat.

Grilled Tandoori Chicken
Photo: Photo by Antonis Achilleos / Food Styling by Ali Ramee / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen
Active Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
55 mins


  • 1 chicken (3 to 3 1/2 pounds), cut into 8 pieces and skin removed

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons water

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt

  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger

  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground coriander

  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne

  • 3 tablespoons cooking oil


  1. Light the grill. Using a sharp knife, cut shallow incisions in the chicken pieces at about 1/2-inch intervals. In a large, glass dish or stainless-steel pan, combine the lemon juice, water, salt, and turmeric. Add the chicken pieces and turn to coat. Let the chicken pieces marinate for 5 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, and cayenne. Add to the chicken and lemon mixture; turn to coat. Let marinate for 10 minutes.

  3. Grill the chicken over moderately high heat, basting with oil, for 10 minutes. Turn and cook, basting with the remaining oil, until just done, about 10 minutes longer for the breasts, 12 for the thighs and drumsticks.

Serve With

Indian flatbread, such as naan, is the traditional accompaniment to tandoori. You can grill store-bought naan or other flatbread, such as pita or lavash. In summer, the sweetness of grilled corn on the cob makes a nice balance to the spiciness of the chicken. Another option is eggplant, a favorite vegetable in India, sliced and grilled.

Suggested Pairing

Spicy dishes such as this pair best with wines with low alcohol, high acidity, and a touch of fruitiness. Try an off-dry Riesling from Oregon, California, or New York State.

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