Classic Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori Chicken

Yes you heard that right- we made tandoori chicken and we didn’t need an actual tandoor for that, we used our trusty oven and it was still as delicious. Of course we could do better with some of the char from the tandoor or a grill but for now, char from the oven it is.

 So, as always last weekend we were craving some good Indian food- tandoori chicken to be more specific. So we spent the whole weekend preparing to make the tandoori chicken- note that we didn’t actually eat the chicken on the weekend and you’ll know why in a bit. Yes, we outdid ourselves this time. Outdid? Really? No. We just decided to go all out and made the most moist, flavourful and amazing Tandoori Chicken ever!

 Here is what we did:

  • Got some chicken legs
  • Brined the chicken for 24 hours
  • Prepared the tandoori masala
  • Made the marinade
  • Marinated the chicken for 24 hours

You could totally skip the brining step and jump straight into marinating the chicken but of late, we love brining our chicken since it adds so much flavor and keeps it moist.

Tandoori Chicken

And wait did I tell you, we didn’t use any artificial food color? We added just a little bit of grated beetroot in the marinade and heaps of paprika in the tandoori masala and voila!

We also made the Tandoori Masala from scratch and it was totally worth it but you could of course use store bought tandoori masala. You’ll find our homemade recipe here.

Tandoori Chicken Masala

 Without further delay, we’ll get right into it. So all you Fiesta Friday friends and of course others, hope you enjoy this one!

Here is how we made Tandoori Chicken in the oven:

Classic Tandoori Chicken

Yield: 7-8 chicken legs


  • 7-8 chicken legs
  • For the Brine
  • 8 cups water
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4-6 whole black peppercorns
  • 2-3 whole allspice, coarsely ground
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, coarsely ground
  • For the Marinade
  • ½ cup sour cream (or Greek yoghurt), see notes below for other substitutes
  • ½ inch piece beetroot, grated (this is only for the color and will add no flavor)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 7- 8 tablespoons tandoori masala (we used our homemade tandoori masala ) but you may use a store bought)
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or regular canola or vegetable oil)
  • juice of half a lemon
  • Salt to taste (start with a teaspoon and add more as required)
  • For the Basting Liquid
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons tandoori masala


    For brining the chicken
  1. Boil the water together with the salt, garlic, peppercorns, allspice and coriander. This is your brine- ready!
  2. Allow the brine to cool down completely and in a separate large bowl add the chicken and pour the cooled brine over it. Seal the bowl properly with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (or even overnight). We did this for 24 hours.
  3. To prepare the chicken for marination, take out the chicken from the brine and wash it under cold water to get rid of the excess salt.
  4. For the Marination
  5. After washing the chicken from the brine, pat it dry and gently make 2-3 slits on each side of the chicken leg. And set this aside.
  6. Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl.
  7. Add the chicken pieces to the marinade and marinate for at least 4 hours but ideally overnight in the refrigerator. Again, we marinated this for 24 hours.
  8. To make the Tandoori Chicken
  9. Mix all the basting liquid ingredients together and set this aside.
  10. When you are ready to make the tandoori chicken, take out the chicken from the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature, at least 20 minutes prior to popping it in the oven.
  11. In the meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 F.
  12. Lay aluminum foil over a large sheet pan/ baking tray and brush the foil with oil.
  13. Once the marinated chicken is at room temperature, arrange the chicken in a single layer and bake for about 20 minutes.
  14. Then turn the chicken and cook on the other side for another 14-16 minutes or until fully cooked.
  15. Then take out the sheet pan from the oven and set your broiler on high.
  16. Baste the chicken with the basting liquid and put your sheet pan under the broiler for 2 minutes on each side. Keep an eye on this as you don’t want your chicken to burn.
  17. Once it’s done your tandoori chicken is ready to serve! Who said we needed a tandoor to make tandoori chicken?
  18. Serve with mint-cilantro chutney and some sliced up onions!


1. You can skip the brining step and directly marinade the chicken.

2. Cooking time should be altered (i.e. reduced) if you are using any other cut of chicken such as a breast or a thigh piece.

3. For the marinade, you could use regular yoghurt too but we would suggest you hang the yoghurt in a muslin cloth to get rid of the excess water. It’s better to marinade the chicken in a thick yoghurt with lower water content and sour cream or Greek yoghurt work best.

Tandoori Chicken


  1. Do you remove the skin from the chicken?I thought of using a mixture of drumsticks and thighs.thanks Tommy.

  2. Did you remove the skin from the chicken,I was thinking of making tandoori chicken with a mixture of thigh and drumsticks.thanks Tommy.

  3. If this tastes half as good as my local favorite restaurant, then I will be the happiest woman on the planet! Can’t wait to try this recipe.

  4. Amaaazing tandoori chicken. I wanna have them now. 🙂

  5. heck i wish you were on wp so i could reblog this on to my scrapbook, shrek is currently drooling at this meal hehe x

  6. Wow! Sour cream in the marinade and then later too, I love it! Nice to know I don’t need a tandoor oven to make this!!!

  7. Yum, yum!! I adore tandoori chicken, and yours looks just perfect! I love your idea of using some beetroot and paprika for colour, and can’t wait to try this recipe!! 😀

  8. This looks awesome Aditi! I have never tried brining chicken but gonna try it the next time I make tandoori 🙂

  9. Looks simply delicious!! Well done!! Again, lovely and super mouthwatering pictures – yum! 😉

  10. That looks incredible! Yum!!

  11. Beautiful recipe! One of my favourite ways to eat chicken… and the addition of beet root is very interesting. I never buy tandoori paste from the store because it always contains red dye… but I would love a touch of natural red colouring 🙂

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  14. WOW, this is quite a labor of love and effort on your part! I favor brining chicken before I do anything with it, too; I think it helps keep the chicken moist and flavorful. I’ll take a dozen drumsticks, please!

    • Most of the time was actually spent waiting. The whole process of brining, marinating and cooking the chicken didn’t take half as long. But you are so right- brining does keep the chicken moist and flavorful. Sending some through right away, Ngan. 🙂

  15. What a great substitute for the food coloring! Wow, creative. It’s very nice to meet you.

  16. Hello CeeBees!! Brining is such a good idea and I love how you have added spices to it too – I do something similar with buttermilk, salt and smoked paprika but yours looks spectacular! Absolutely love the photo of the tandoori spice and look forward to seeing the recipe for it! Thanks for bringing this to the party – hope you get a chance to make some new friends at FF #15!

    • Hello there, Selma! Thank you for your kind words! The spice mix recipe will be up soon-ish. 🙂 We are having a great time at the party. It’s good that all of us don’t come in barging at the same time- we need to enjoy every bit of it with everyone. xx

  17. Looks great Aditi! Chicken legs are hugely popular in our house too! Love that you additionally brined the chicken and also added beetroot for color! Very nice! How neat that we both posted chicken recipes on the same day! 🙂

  18. Looks fantastic… and I’m looking forward to that tandoori spice mix recipe 🙂

  19. I’m loving all of the great flavors in this! It looks so appetizing!

  20. Looks soooo delicious! My husband is a briner [well, that just sounds weird, hah] and this recipe is right up his alley! And for good reason, brining really does yield a delicious final product. I’ve never tried making my own tandoori chicken…I think it’s time! Thanks for sharing the recipe and your delicious photos. 🙂

    • Thanks, Nancy. We have recently started brining chicken for some of the things we make and you are so right- it’s so worth it. Lucky you that your husband’s been brining chicken for sometime- it’ll work really well with this recipe, so do try this recipe if you get a chance! xx

  21. Mmm, we are wondering about that homemade tandoori spice mix. The soonest you will share it with us, the better. 😀 You will not let us wait that long, right?

    I’ve watched my friend before doing this brining thing and the result was really awesome. I haven’t had Tandoori Chicken before, but by looking at the ingredients and the procedure, I bet it tastes really good!!

    Thanks for sharing this with us… and remember, don’t forget that tandoori spice mix. 😀

    PS: The photos are awesome!! <3

  22. This is one of those amazing recipes that would be from the Slow Food Movement. I wish I could cook this way all of the time – each step, creating a wonderful layer of flavour. This is awesome! Yum! 😀

  23. Wow, what a labor of love! Your drumsticks look scrumptious and I can just taste all the flavors! That last shot of the rub is dynamite, by the way. 😀

    • It sure was, Patty! But in the end all that mattered were those juicy drumsticks :p- how dramatic no? And so awesome that you like the shot of the rub. More to come- this time I can say myself that we clicked some good ones. Will look forward to your comments on those!

  24. My fave! I want to take a bite of that chicken leg right now. Looks so yum! Mmm…

    • Oh this one’s for you, Angie! 🙂 I remember having a discussion with you about tandoori ovens- I think that was in the context of Indian flatbreads. But for something like this an outdoor grill/ bbq would be perfect!

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  26. Gorgeous shoot guys. Brining is intesting and u can see the impact. Beet root is ingenious idea. Beautiful color 🙂

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