Tandooried chicken

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Food and Travels: Asia

Food and Travels

By Alastair Hendy

Published 2004

  • About

I’m giving you the psychedelic version - for true tandoor colour. Chicken tandoori just ain’t the same without it.


  • 8 free-range chicken drumsticks or thighs, or 4 breasts, skinned
  • salt
  • 2 lemons
  • 4 cm piece fresh root ginger, peeled
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 thin green chillies, deseeded and chopped
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp red food colouring mixed with 3 tsp yellow colouring
  • 8 tbsp thick yoghurt
  • chunk of butter
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced into rings
  • 2 good handfuls of mint leaves


If using breasts, cut each into three. Slash the meat with about three cuts in each chunk, then pile into a dish, sprinkle with salt and squeeze over the juice of 1 lemon. Massage everything in. Grate over the ginger, add the garlic, chillies, and garam masala, and massage this in too. Next, brush the chicken with the food colouring, then tumble with 4 tbsp of the yoghurt. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

To roast, turn the oven to its highest setting, then remove the meat from its spiced yoghurt bath and discard the excess yoghurt. Lay the pieces of chicken across a baking sheet, giving them plenty of room, then, once your oven is at furnace level, zap the chicken in and roast for 20 minutes (if it’s off the bone, 15 minutes). Rub the pieces with the butter about halfway through their time - a sort of rub-baste (saves melting and brushing it on). Squeeze the other lemon over the onion rings and lightly season. Pile the mint and dressed onion (tipping over any collected lemon juice) on to plates with the tandooried chicken, and add a big spoonful of yoghurt to each. Flatbreads required.