Love Tandoori Chicken? This article shows you how to prepare oven baked tandoori chicken at home in just three simple steps. You will be pleasantly surprised that it is easier than you think.
Although Tandoori Chicken is Indian cuisine, it has become the perennial Malaysian favorite that has assimilated into the food culture of all Malaysian with diverse backgrounds. There are so many people hooked onto chicken tandoori once they tried it. The flavor is the magical symphony of spices interplaying with each other that tantalizes all senses. It is a must-order dish whenever I patronize my favorite Indian restaurant.
The tandoori chicken gets its name from the equipment used to cook the chicken, the tandoor. Tandoor is a cylinder shape oven made with clay or metal used to cook a variety of Indian food.
How to make tandoori chicken in the oven
I. Cut the chicken
Cut the chicken into large chunks, bone in, and remove the skin. Bone-in chicken thighs and chicken drumsticks are the best, but you can use chicken breasts if you prefer boneless.
Marinating the chicken by removing the skin is much more effective than with the skin on. With this method, the marinade can penetrate even to the deepest part of the chicken thigh. A delicious tandoori chicken should be flavorful with every bite, not just parts near the surface. Alternatively, lift the skin and make a few cuts at the thickest part of the flesh. Then, massage the marinade into the slit to ensure the flavor will penetrate down to the bone.
However, removing the skin means the heat from the oven will hit directly onto the meat. As a result, the meat will become dryer. While this is not an issue for thigh meat, it has a significant impact on breast meat. That is why we do not recommend using breast meat to prepare the best tandoori chicken.
Besides removing the skin, make a few gashes at all the thick parts of the meat. The flavor of the marinade will be able to infuse into the meat better this way.
For the same reason, you need to use your fingers to rub the marinade into the gashes and leave it for a few hours before roasting to achieve the best result. Then, if you have time, keep it in the refrigerator overnight and bake it the next day.
2. Marinate the chicken
There are divided opinions on whether to marinate the chicken once or twice.
- One school of thought is to marinate the chicken with salt, garlic ginger paste, chili powder, and lime juice for a specific time then add chicken to the combination of the remaining herbs and spices subsequently. I do not fully understand the rationale behind it, but I assume it may give a better taste eventually.
- The other school thinks that this is unnecessary. The assumption is based on as long as the marination is long enough, every part of the chicken should be well seasoned.
Out of curiosity, I carry out a simple test to find out if there is any difference between these methods before fixing up the recipe. The result shows that the flavor is identical.
Tandoori chicken is an easy recipe, just marinate and bake! Combine all the ingredients into a smooth paste and rub it into the chicken thoroughly.
However, I want to elaborate on some specific components of the tandoori chicken marinades, so that you will have better control of the flavor should you want to adjust or look for a substitute in case some ingredients are unavailable.
Always use plain yogurt or Greek yogurt in this recipe. Avoid using flavored yogurt as it will alter the flavor provided by the herbs and spices.
You can use the yogurt out of the box, but it may be too watery and dilute the flavor. A better way is to transfer the yogurt to a cloth bag and let the excess liquid drip off from the yogurt. Once there is no more liquid dripping off, add the thick yogurt to the chicken.
Yogurt also acts as a meat tenderizer due to its slight acidity. For the same reason, I also add some yogurt when I marinate the Ayam Goreng (Malaysian-style fried chicken).
Ginger garlic paste
Ginger garlic paste is one of the essential items in Indian cooking. The most basic preparation is to blend 100g of garlic and 100g of ginger with a tablespoon of cooking oil. The ginger-garlic paste stores well if refrigerated. You may make a batch and keep the remainder for future use. If you are not cooking Indian food very often, cut the amount by half. Alternatively, you can purchase the ready-made ginger garlic paste.
You can use finely chopped (better grind with mortar and paste) garlic and ginger instead of the ginger and garlic paste. In my opinion, ginger garlic paste is a better choice because it has been blended finely, which means that it is better for marination.
Try to get the Kashmiri chili powder. This type of red chili powder has a bright red color. If you add a sufficient amount to the marinade, the mixture will have the familiar tandoori color without the need to add a coloring agent.
The color of chili powder will change over time. If you notice the color of your chili powder no longer has a vibrant red color and looks slightly dull and brownish, discard it and get the new one.
If you are not using Kashmiri chili powder, or reduce the amount to make it less spicy, then you can add a small amount of artificial red food coloring. I normally do not take very spicy food, so I use a bit less chili powder and enhance the color with some red color dye. (Note: if you are averse to using artificial coloring agents, please ignore it.)
Use the small lime (Kasturi lime). An alternative is to substitute it with lemon juice.
Garam Masala is a spice mix widely used in Indian cuisine. It is equivalent to the five-spice powder for Chinese cooking, but the combination is different. It should be available at the Indian grocery store near you. Here is a simple recipe if you want to make it at home. (I purchase from the store for simplicity).
2 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp coriander
1 tbsp cardamom
I tbsp black pepper
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp nutmeg
Blend all the spices into a fine powder
Besides garam masala, other common spices for tandoori chicken are cumin and coriander.
Mustard oil has a slightly spicy taste. In my opinion, since the amount of mustard oil required is small, you can use any cooking oil with a neutral flavor as a substitute.
3. Bake the tandoori chicken in the oven
As I mentioned earlier, tandoori chicken made with an electric oven is ideal because it is available in every kitchen. The result is nearly identical to those with the traditional tandoor or charcoal grill, albeit lacking the smoky charcoal flavor.
Since the design of every oven is different, the suggested oven setting in this tandoori chicken recipe is only served as a guideline. The best way is to start with the recommended temperature and duration and keep a close eye on the appearance when you bake it the first time.
Here are the steps:
- Remove the marinated chicken from the fridge at least thirty minutes before baking. The flesh near the bone will not cook through if you bake the chicken directly from the refrigerator.
- Place a piece of baking paper or aluminum foil on a baking tray, and brush a thin layer of oil on it. Alternatively, you can also line the tray with baking paper, which is more environmentally friendly.
- Arrange the marinated chicken pieces on the tray.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/390°F. (The exact tandoori chicken oven setting depends on the model of the oven.) Bake the tandoori chicken in the oven with high heat for fifteen minutes.
- Remove the tray from the oven. Brush some melted butter on the chicken, turn over the chicken and continue baking for another thirty minutes or until the edges turn slightly charred. (The cooking time can be varied from oven to oven).
- Remove and serve.
Note: You can place the chicken on a wire rack after the initial baking for fifteen minutes. This is especially useful if the oven is not hot enough and cannot create some light charred marks on the chicken. In this case, place the chicken on the wire rack and place it close to the top heating element. Broil the chicken until you get the desired color.
This oven baked tandoori chicken can be served as a side dish, or together with biryani rice, roti, or naan. The leftover is ideal to turn into butter chicken. You can refer to our butter chicken recipe on this blog.
The oven-baked tandoori chicken recipe
Chicken Tandoori in oven
In this recipe, I will explain to you how to cook tandoori chicken with the electric oven, which is the standard kitchen equipment in most of the modern kitchen.
You will find that it is easier than you think.
- 1kg Chicken thigh
- 2 tbsp (30ml) lime juice
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) mustard oil
- 1 tbsp Ginger garlic paste
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 200g (3/4 cup) yogurt
- 1 tbsp Kashmiri red chili powder
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- 2 tsp cumin powder
- 2 tsp garam masala
- Sufficient red color dye (optional)
- Butter for busting
- 1/2 cup onion rings
- Coriander leaves
- Chaat masala powder
- Cut the chicken into large chunks, bone-in, remove the skin.
- Make a few gashes at the thick part of the meat.
- Put the yogurt into a cloth bag, and let the liquid drip off until it stops.
- Mix all the ingredients for the marinade, combine with the chicken chunks.
- Marinate for at least three hours.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/390°F.
- Line a baking tray with aluminum foil. Arrange the chicken on the tray.
- Bake the chicken for fifteen minutes.
- Brush some melted butter on the chicken.
- Tun over the chicken and continue baking for another twenty minutes or until the edges turn slightly charred.
- Remove and serve.
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Serving Size:per drumstick
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 375Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 164mgSodium: 931mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 1gSugar: 8gProtein: 30g
This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 11/6/2019
Tuesday 14th of June 2022
Can you freeze the chicken once cooked and reheat once unfrozen.
Thursday 16th of June 2022
You can do so by putting it in an airtight container if you want to keep it for a longer period. It is better just leave it in the refrigerator if you want to keep it for one or two days.
Tuesday 11th of August 2020
Should both the top & bottom rods be turned on while baking?
Wednesday 12th of August 2020
Hi Smitha, I turn on both top and bottom heat while baking it. KP Kwan
Friday 31st of July 2020
Thanks, Kwan. So chaat masala is optional? If it is used, how much to add?
Saturday 1st of August 2020
Hi Bernadette, Chaat masala is optional. I would add 2 teaspoons of it to one chicken. KP Kwam
Bernadette Kueh Kueh
Sunday 26th of July 2020
Hi Kwan, this recipe looks delicious. I want to try it. 1. I saw some ingredients e.g. Chaat Masala under the Others section. Are they for garnishing? The recipe doesn't mention how to use them. 2. Can I fry mustard seeds in some oil to make the mustard oil?
Monday 27th of July 2020
Hi Bernadette, 1. Chaat masala is a type of powder made with salt, dry mango, pomegranate seed, etc. It is salty and slightly sour. It is not for garnish as there is not much color (light brown). The primary purpose is to provide flavor. Some tandoori recipes use it to enhance the flavor. 2. I never make mustard seed oil before. I suggest you substitute it with corn oil or canola oil. KP Kwan
Monday 29th of June 2020
How long do I cook my marinated boneless chicken tighmeat for . Should I cover it in foil in an oven dish ?
Tuesday 30th of June 2020
Hi MH, Please bake the chicken until the chicken thigh is slightly charred at the edges. (The duration depends on the doneness and change of color). There is no need to cover it with aluminum foil. KP Kwan