Tandoori Chicken


Light up a grill to cook this classic, flavorful Indian chicken dish.

Tandoori Chicken

Greg Dupree / Food Styling by Kelsey Moylan / Prop Styling by Josh Hoggle

Active Time:
35 mins
Marinate Time:
5 hrs
Total Time:
6 hrs
4 servings

This Indian chicken dish is popular throughout the world for the deep flavor that comes from cooking chicken in a tandoor, the deep, urn-shaped clay oven. Legendary cookbook author Madhur Jaffrey adapted the recipe for a charcoal grill to make it accessible to home cooks. The chicken is dressed with lemon juice and salt before it marinates in a mixture of onion, ginger, garlic, chiles, and the North Indian spice blend garam masala. You can buy packaged garam masala in most groceries, or mix up your own blend. Serve this chicken alongside a few pieces of naan.


  • 2 1/2 pounds  bone-in, skinless chicken thighs, and drumsticks

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

  • 2 juicy lemons

  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt

  • 1/2 medium onion, peeled and quartered

  • 5 garlic cloves

  • 1 (3/4-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and quartered

  • 1/2 fresh hot green chile, roughly sliced

  • 2 teaspoons garam masala

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted

  • Lemon wedges


  1. Make 2 diagonal incisions, each about 1 inch long, on center of each side of chicken pieces. (Slits, which should not start at an edge, should be deep enough to reach bone.)

  2. Place chicken pieces on a rimmed baking sheet. Squeeze 1 lemon over chicken, and sprinkle with salt. Gently rub salt and lemon juice into slits. Turn chicken over, and repeat with remaining lemon and salt. Set aside for 20 minutes.

  3. Blend yogurt, onion, garlic, ginger, green chili, and garam masala in a food processor or blender into a smooth paste, about 3 minutes. Transfer spice paste to a large bowl. Add chicken to bowl and turn until coated evenly in spice paste, being sure to get paste into slits. Cover chicken and refrigerate at least 5 hours, up to 24 hours.

  4. Heat charcoal grill to high. Grill chicken over moderately high heat, basting with butter, until browned, 10 minutes. Turn and cook, basting with remaining butter, until lightly charred and cooked through, about 12 minutes. Squeeze lemon wedges over chicken and serve with naan.

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