Tandoori-Style Roast Chicken

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Back to Square One

By Joyce Goldstein

Published 1992

  • About

Pair yogurt with aromatic Indian spices and lemon or lime juice and you have a remarkably tasty classic recipe known as tandoori chicken. The tandoor is an Indian clay oven that cooks food at incredibly high temperatures. (Tandoors are also used in Turkey.) While most of us don’t have a tandoor at our disposal, we do have broilers and ovens. And outdoor grills. Incidentally, yogurt marinades have a tenderizing effect, and this one works wonderfully on butterflied leg of lamb and lamb chops.



  • 1 onion, cut into chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh lime or lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons paprika, plus additional for sprinkling
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon each ground cloves and ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • 6 poussins (young chickens) or Rock Cornish game hens, about 1 pound each



For the marinade, purée the onion with the garlic in a food processor. Process in the lime or lemon juice. Then add the spices and yogurt and process to blend.

Place the poussins in a nonaluminum container. Pour the marinade over and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate, turning occasionally, overnight.

Bring the chickens to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Remove excess marinade and transfer the birds to a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Roast until the juices run clear when a thigh is pierced with a skewer. 40 to 45 minutes. Sprinkle with a little paprika.

Or, if you plan to grill or broil the birds, first butterfly them by cutting down both sides of the backbones and removing them. Open out and flatten the birds with the palm of your hand. Then marinate. Broil or grill, cook 5 minutes on each side or until they test done. Serve with saffron rice, chutney of your choice, and curried spinach or broccoli.