Tandoori Chicken - Cooking Up Clean

Tandoori Chicken


Nothing beats a flavorful grilled steak or chicken.  Especially when it’s had a nice long marinade in an Indian spiced yogurt mixture overnight to let the flavors soak in and soften the meat to pure tender perfection.  Don’t let this tandoori chicken intimidate you.  It looks challenging and has many ingredients but it’s secretly really easy to make and will impress any dinner guests you have over to sample your handiwork.

To really bring out the fragrant spices in this dish, I use whole cardamom and cloves rather than ground and then smash them with a mortar and pestle. 


You can use pre-ground spices as well just make sure they’re fresh for the best flavor.  All of the marinade ingredients then come together quick as a flash.  The key to getting all that deep delicious spice infused into the tandoori chicken is to lightly score the cuts of chicken prior to soaking in the marinade.  Then let the chicken rest in its yogurt bath for 24 hours.  The yogurt cultures will gently break down the meat just enough to give it the PERFECT tenderness and keep it juicy.  


When you’re ready to prepare your meal, either place the chicken pieces directly on the grill or you can bake them by placing them on a baking sheet with a wire rack to elevate them like this:


If you grill them, do so over medium low heat turning every 10 minutes for about 40 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.  If you bake them, bake for 20 minutes and turn on the broiler for an additional 5 minutes to get a similar char to grilling.  Both ways you cook it will result in a tasty tandoori chicken.  Need a coordinating side dish?  No problem!  This one-pot vegetable curried rice has ya covered!


Tandoori Chicken
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main Dishes
Cuisine: paleo
Serves: 4
  • 4-6 chicken breasts, thighs or drumsticks
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5 whole cloves (or ¼ teaspoon ground)
  • 5 cardamom pods, use just the seeds inside the pod (or ¼ teaspoon ground)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 12 ounces plain coconut yogurt or plain Greek yogurt
  1. Crush cloves and cardamom seeds with a mortar and pestle until fairly finely ground.
  2. Combine all ingredients except chicken in a large bowl and mix well.
  3. Lightly score chicken pieces with a knife and place in marinade.
  4. Marinate for 24 hours.
  5. When ready to cook, grill on medium-low heat for about 40 minutes turning pieces every 10 minutes until chicken reaches 165 degrees.
  6. To bake instead, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place chicken pieces on a wire rack inside a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Broil for an additional 5 minutes and check to be sure chicken is 165 degrees.


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