Tandoori Chicken Thighs

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

A tandoor is a North Indian clay oven that is about three feet (90 cm) high, usually buried in the ground up to the neck. Live coals are placed in the bottom, and skewers with meat and poultry are angled at a suitable distance from the heat to cook them. It’s the Indian version of a barbecue.

Tandoori chicken is best cooked on a charcoal grill. Buy split chickens or leg quarters if using this method. Grease barbecue grill and preheat to medium-high. Place chicken on grill and cook, covered, for 20 minutes. Turn and cook until juices run clear when chicken is pierced, 20 to 25 minutes.

Ginger and garlic can be minced in a blender, grated on a ginger grater or purchased prepared in jars.


Cooking Methodbaking, grilling



Total Timeunder 4 hours

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionBuffet, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Equipmentbaking/gratin dish, grill, grill pan


Taste and Texturegarlicky, hot & spicy, savory, spiced


  • 16 skinless bone-in chicken thighs (or thighs 16 and drumsticks) (about 5 lbs/2.5 kg)
  • 1 cup (250 mL) plain nonfat yogurt
  • Juice of 2 limes or lemons
  • 2 tbsp (25 mL) minced peeled ginger root (see Notes)
  • 2 tbsp (25 mL) minced garlic
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) coriander powder
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) cumin powder
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) garam masala
  • 1½ tsp (7 mL) salt or to taste
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) paprika
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) cayenne pepper
  • Few drops red food coloring, optional
  • Juice of 2 limes or additional lemons
  • 1 onion, cut into rings
  • Lemon wedges
  • Shallow baking pan, lined with foil


  1. Rinse chicken and pat dry thoroughly. Cut long diagonal slits, against the grain, almost to the bone.

  2. In a large shallow nonreactive bowl, mix together yogurt, lime juice, ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, garam masala, salt, paprika and cayenne. Add red food coloring, if using. Add chicken, turning to coat and making sure marinade goes into all slits. Cover and marinate in refrigerator for about 2 hours or for up to 12 hours.

  3. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Remove chicken from marinade and place in prepared shallow baking pan. Discard any remaining marinade. Bake in preheated oven until juices run clear when chicken is pierced, about 45 minutes.

  4. Transfer pieces to heated platter and squeeze lime juice over top while still warm. Discard accumulated juices. Garnish with sliced onion rings and lemon wedges.


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