Tandoori Chicken with Basmati Rice

Tandoori Chicken
My first experience with Indian food in 2005 was not a good one. It was at a restaurant and I can remember it vividly: As my then-boyfriend and his parents scarfed up one after another plate of hot red and yellow dishes with indecipherable names, I sat there picking at everything and trying, really trying, to like something with no success. Afterward, to cap off the meal that left me hungry and sorry to my encouraging hosts, I stuffed a handful of “palate soothing” fennel seeds and licorice pieces into my mouth…. and then tried, as ladylike as possible, to spit them out onto the pavement in front of the restaurant and my future in-laws.

Not my finest moment!

So, I can’t say that after six years I’ve entirely warmed up to the cuisine. However, as a curious cook I’m always interested in experimenting with ethnic dishes and I thought that this tandoori chicken would be a nice way to ease in to Indian cooking.

Grilled Tandoori Chicken Recipe

Imagine my Indian-loving husband’s delight when I said we were having this for lunch last weekend! He couldn’t fire up the grill quickly enough.

Tandoori Chicken Recipe

The chicken, after marinating for 24 hours in a mixture of yogurt, garlic, fresh ginger, onion, lemon and spices,  smelled incredible and I was so eager to try it with a side of warm, fragrant basmati rice. After grilling it for 15 minutes (if you must use an oven, bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes), topping it with chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lemon juice, the moment of truth finally came. I can’t say enough about how much I LOVED this chicken tandoori, and you will, too!

It was perfectly spiced, tender and full of flavor, and for me, a total triumph in the previously intimidating world of Indian food. After all, like my mother-in-law says, “Tastes change.”

Tandoori Chicken with Basmati Rice

Tandoori Chicken with Basmati Rice

Yield: 4 to 6


Tandoori Chicken

  • 2 pounds skinless, bone-in chicken, I used thighs, wings and drumsticks
  • 1 1/4 cups plain yogurt
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon yellow food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon red food coloring
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

Basmati Rice

  • 2 cups basmati rice, 14 oz.
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 1/3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Tandoori Chicken
  2. In a medium bowl, combine yogurt, onion, garlic, ginger, garam masala, and cayenne pepper. Mix until smooth. Stir in yellow and red food coloring. Add chicken and coat well with the mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 6 to 24 hours (the longer the better).
  3. Preheat an outdoor grill to medium high heat and lightly oil grate. Cook chicken on grill until no longer pink and juices run clear, about 15 minutes, flipping every 5 minutes.
  4. If using an oven, preheat to 400 degrees and bake for 30 minutes.
  5. Garnish with cilantro and lemon wedges.
  6. Basmati Rice
  7. Rinse rice in cold water until water runs clear. Drain well in a fine-mesh sieve. Melt butter in a 4-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, then add rice and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Stir in water and salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand, covered and undisturbed, 5 minutes. Fluff rice gently with a fork.
  8. Enjoy!

Did you make this recipe?

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Join the Conversation

  1. I love tandoori flavour. I can totally adapt this recipe and use tofu. Thanks :)

  2. Georgia, your pictures always looks so amazing! I adore tandoori chicken, it’s probably the one real Indian food I really really crave!!

  3. Georgia, looks like you have a great handle on Indian cooking. Far from your first experience tasting it. I love it. Then only problem is stopping myself once I start. Must try your recipe, it is beautiful. Funny how it traditionally has the food coloring – wonder why?

  4. I’m so doing this!! I just stocked up on some chicken this week…and want to try this!

  5. This looks wonderful! I love food with lots of flavor, and this dish definitely delivers. Glad I stumbled upon your lovely blog. :-)

  6. I shuttered a little at the thought of fennel and licorice being “palate soothing” :) The chicken looks absolutely delicious!

  7. As a reformed Indian food hater to LOVER, your meal looks DELISH and I am impressed!

    I first tried Indian food when I was actually in India for a week while studying abroad, and I HATED it. I tried really hard to like it but I didn’t eat much except for dosa, which is like an unleavened bread and the chutneys.

    No that I love it, I really wish I could punch my 20 year old self in the face for not taking advantage of the authentic Indian food when I had the chance.

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  9. This looks wonderful. Can’t wait to fire up our grill and get outdoors to cook!

  10. wow! what a stunner:) this looks absolutely delicious! thank you for sharing this and have a great day.

  11. Oh my, this looks delicious! Your photos are perfect. I have been craving Indian food something fierce lately. I had a similarly rocky start with Indian food, but like you, I quickly warmed up to it. I’ll be giving this a try tomorrow!

  12. Tandoori chicken is one of my favourite Indian dishes…! Looks beautiful :)!

  13. Beautiful photos, Georgia! Love this chicken! Yum!

  14. It looks and sounds delicious! I really need to try making Indian food – this may be the recipe to start with.

  15. I’ve always felt the same way about Indian food, and totally felt like I was the only one! Everyone else seems to love it but for me it’s just eh. Would almost always be my last choice. I just don’t think I have the palate for it! Maybe I’ll give this a try though…

  16. I really want to make this sometime, its making me soooo hungry :) And now I have to satistfy it by eating the only Indian thing I have – naan bread! (Won’t compare to this chicken, I know, but it will have to do for now!)

  17. Love your gorgeous colorful pictures! Plus this sounds amazing. I love Indian food but don’t cook it often at home. Thanks for the inspiration!

  18. This looks so good! I love Indian food, and this looks simple and delicious. :)

  19. Georgia, your tandoori chicken looks terrific, so do your photos!
    Have a great weekend!

  20. My husband had exactly the same experience with the seeds. This looks much better that the Tandoori chicken I’ve had at a restaurant.

  21. It definitely took me a few years to start to like Indian food, but your tastes probably will evolve. And then you’ll find yourself craving it at every second. This might just be the gateway drug…looks delicious!

  22. I’ve never cared for the flavor of ginger and I stayed away from many dishes that had it listed as an ingredient. That was the case until I tried my hand at Tandoori chicken last year as well. The blend of spices blew all of us away and it has been a staple ever since. My kids go crazy over this dish, but just like you ours is always grilled on the BBQ and I think it actually makes a huge difference. Yours looks beautiful and reminded me that it’s been too long since we ate this dish, which I must change very soon :o)

  23. Oh yummy. I have been just eating lots of fruit today…this had my head spinning. YUM

  24. I love tandoori chicken, but I never made one myself. I bookmark your recipe. Thanks Georgia.

  25. So glad you enjoyed your tandoori chicken. I am an Indian food addict myself, so it warms my heart to see you giving it a go after a bad first impression. I would invite you over to try my mom’s curry if I could.

  26. Hi! I am visiting for the first time! I am so drooling over that tandoori chicken of yours! Looks amazing! Beautiful blog you have here Gerogia:D

  27. this looks awesome and congrats on Top9!

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  29. I love how colorful and vibrant this dish is! It makes me wish for summer! COngrats!! ♥- Katrina

  30. I like this awesome post, and congrats on top 9:)

  31. I have never been too big on that cuisine either, but its starting to grow on me, your tandoori chicken looks amazing, grilling it was definitely the right choice, it added so much to the dish!
    Congrats on your top 9 today!

  32. Mmmm…lovely and appetizing dish. Wud love to try it asap !

  33. Georgia, Can you believe I have never tried Indian food! Your story is cute :) I know that some foods my husband likes have certainly grown on me since we got married.

  34. My husband loves Indian food, and I’m always been reluctant to try it. However, I feel this is great recipe that we would both love!

  35. Cute story and beautiful plate of food!

  36. 5 stars
    This is so delicious and comforting! :)

  37. I’ve only had a few experiances with Indian food, two of which have been home-cooked (so who knows how authentic they are) and I found that it’s hard to find something you can truly say you enjoyed. Though, I have had better luck with home-cooked experiments.

    Your chicken looks great Georgia! Is this experience opening other Indian food doors for you?

  38. Thanks for your kind comment, Stephanie! Yes, I’m definitely interested in trying more Indian dishes now that I’ve braved this one. I made a delicious chicken curry the other night, too. If you have any recommendations, feel free to let me know. :)

  39. As much as this cuisine is still new to me, I do recall having a dish like this one at an excellent Indian restaurant.

    Georgia, your recipe seems tempting enough for me to want to give it a go in my oven ;o)

    Ciao for now,

  40. Some things just are not as pleasing to our palettes…This looks like a great start, lovely recipe :)

  41. Tandoori chicken is a total favorite in my house. But I’ve never made it at home-this looks like a great place to start! Such beautiful photos!

  42. Anonymous says:

    As an Indian from India reading this, I am happy to know so many of you enjoy Indian food. :-)

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