Whenever it comes to Indian cuisine, Chicken Tikka Masala, Chicken Biryani or Samosa should be the very top names for suggestions. Sit still folks, because HealthyKitchen101 is bringing you this special Tandoori Chicken Recipe which specially calls for only whole thighs and legs.
Where does Tandoori Chicken come from?
Tandoori Chicken, originally named “Tandoori Murgh”, is genuinely an Indian dish. Its name is inherited from the tandoor (a bell-shaped cylindrical clay oven, to be specific), in which the chicken is cooked over a super high heat of approximately 500℉ using charcoal.
Let’s all sit down and take a peer at this story over the charcoal grill, shall we?
The initiator of Tandoori Murgh, Kundan Lal Gujral, was a Hindu refugee who came to Delhi and started his own restaurant. Not long after being released, the recipe soon became a hit because tandoors had never before been used for meat roasting, but only for naan breads or flatbreads. As a result of a remarkably successful experiment in Gujral’s kitchen, Tandoori Murgh soon became a well-celebrated chicken dish on local menus. It then even made its way to the banquets of the first Prime Minister of India all thanks to the one-of-a-kind smoky flavor.
The original Tandoori Murgh VS. the Western’s Tandoori Chicken: what’s the difference?
In time, Tandoori Murgh has travelled a long way to South Asia, the Middle East and even Western countries, including the US and Canada. That was when its variants started to develop. For easier grilling and roasting as per their own culinary customs, Western chefs have altered the method a bit and brought the oven to the recipe.
Nevertheless, the Kashmiri chili powder and other famous Indian spices, which were used to jack up the spiciness of Tandoori Chicken, are actually quite hard to be found in grocery stores in the US. Therefore, they are oftentimes replaced with the more popular turmeric powder and garam masala. The Western versions of Tandoori Chicken, as a consequence, usually come out less spicy and more mild in taste.
So, what spices are in Tandoori Chicken?
To make up for the alternative ingredients, harissa paste, turmeric powder, cayenne pepper or paprika are oft-times brought to Tandoori Chicken recipes at local restaurants. But as far as I can tell, red food dye is still the very top priority if an appealing hot, bright red colored chicken dish is what you’re yearning for.
To be frank, I did skip this food dyeing step (bet you can tell from the pictures hehe). Not that I’m averse to food dyeing or else – I’m just not having a big crush on it (and I’m kind of used to keeping things short and sweet, you know). So feel free to do so if you’re about to tuck your sleeves up for a guest treat, and the table display is put first in order of importance.
Speaking of spice mixes, in case you’re the type who would get your way a liiiiil bit higher up to the sophisticated phase of culinary arts – purchase raw spices in wholes. Then? Grind them yourself. That will increase their richness and raciness big time, and result in longer-lasting preservation too. (▰˘◡˘▰)
What is the difference between Tandoori Chicken and Chicken Tikka?
The biggest distinction between these two should be their meat size, and together with the presence of bones.
So I’m going to clear this thing up shortly: Tandoori Chicken is cooked in a tandoor (the clay oven), and the chicken meat used for Tandoori is usually bone-in pieces (whole legs or thighs – to be specific). In the meantime, Chicken Tikka includes only boneless chunks, which are then marinated and roasted on sticks or skewers.
Legs and thighs
First things first, Tandoori Chicken should mean bone-in thighs and legs only. Breasts are sure no buenos.
Don’t misconceive my love towards chicken breasts, I am still and will always remain a nut for the white meat. But if you prefer meats that stay moist during the grill, then we’re talking about thighs and legs. These cuts have enough fat to preserve their tenderness while charred over high heat instead of being dried out easily like chicken breasts.
Tandoori Chicken Recipe
Yield 4 servings
Moist, juicy and so rich in taste with a creamy and tangy spice mix, Tandoori Chicken actually calls for no special curry paste but just scratch that can easily be found within your kitchen space. Ready to figure it out?
- Chicken: 2 legs/drumsticks and 2 thighs (skinless, bone-in).
- Ingredients for the spice mix:
- 1 greek yogurt (8oz – 250g)
- 1 lime
- Black pepper
- 1-inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon tandoori masala spice blend
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
- A pinch of turmeric powder
- Cilantro, finely chopped
How to Make
- Prepare the spice mix: Combine all the ingredients for the spice mix together in a mixing bowl. Whisk well.
- Brush the spice mix on the chicken pieces, make sure it coats well all over the surface. Cover them with plastic wrap/cling film and put it under refrigeration for at least 1 hour so the chicken soaks up the essence of the spices at its best.
- Preheat the oven to 460°F.
- Bring the 4 marinated chicken pieces to a skillet lined with a baking sheet. Put to bake for 30-45 minutes and flip them halfway through.
- Optional: Char the chicken on the pan a bit more for a couple of minutes for a more golden brown result.
- Plate the chicken and bring to serve over a hot bowl of steamed basmati rice with some sprinkles of chopped cilantro.
- Find other herbs to substitute for cilantro if desired.
- Cut X marks on your chicken pieces while in marination for deeper sauce absorbance (of course without the chicken skin).
Serving Size 1 chicken thigh
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
Total Fat 12 g
Saturated Fat 4.2 g
Cholesterol 135 mg
Sodium 132 mg
Total Carbohydrates 6.1 g
Dietary Fiber 0.7 g
Sugars 3.7 g
Protein 31 g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.