Mastering Tandoori Chicken A Pro Chef’s Guide

How to make tandoori chicken like a pro chef


Tandoori chicken is a beloved dish that originated in India, known for its succulent, smoky, and aromatic flavors. While it may seem like a complex dish best left to the pros, with the right guidance and techniques, you can make tandoori chicken like a professional chef in the comfort of your own kitchen. In this article, we will walk you through the step-by-step process to create the perfect tandoori chicken that will impress your family and friends.

Selecting the Right Chicken

   The first step to making tandoori chicken like a pro chef is choosing the right chicken. Opt for skinless, bone-in chicken pieces, such as thighs or drumsticks, as they are more flavorful and tender. Ensure they are fresh and well-trimmed before proceeding.

Preparing the Marinade

   The key to a great tandoori chicken lies in the marinade. To make it like a pro, gather the following ingredients

  •    1 cup of yogurt
  •    2 tablespoons of ginger-garlic paste
  •    2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  •    2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  •    2 tablespoons of tandoori masala (readily available or homemade)
  •    1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  •    1 teaspoon of ground coriander
  •    1 teaspoon of paprika or Kashmiri red chili powder (for color)
  •    Salt to taste

   Combine these ingredients in a bowl to create a rich and flavorful marinade. The yogurt tenderizes the chicken while infusing it with the aromatic spices.

Marinating the Chicken

   Now, coat the chicken pieces generously with the marinade, ensuring every nook and cranny is covered. For best results, let the chicken marinate for at least 2-4 hours, or even overnight in the refrigerator. This allows the flavors to penetrate deeply.

Preparing the Tandoor Oven or Grill

   While traditional tandoori chicken is cooked in a clay tandoor oven, you can achieve excellent results on a grill or in your oven. If using a grill, preheat it to medium-high heat. For the oven, set it to the highest broil setting and place a wire rack on top of a baking sheet to mimic the tandoor effect.

Cooking the Tandoori Chicken

  •    If using a grill, place the marinated chicken pieces on the hot grill grates. Cook for about 15-20 minutes, turning occasionally until the chicken is charred and cooked through. Use a meat thermometer to ensure it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).
  •    If using an oven, position the wire rack in the top third of the oven and preheat the broiler. Place the chicken pieces on the rack and cook for approximately 15-20 minutes, turning halfway through, until they are charred and fully cooked.

The Smoky Element

   To achieve that smoky tandoor flavor, you can use a traditional method called “dhungar.” Heat a piece of charcoal until it’s red-hot and place it in a small bowl in the center of your cooked chicken. Drizzle a little oil over the charcoal, and as it smokes, quickly cover the dish. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes to infuse the smoky aroma into the chicken.

Serving Tandoori Chicken Like a Pro

   Once your tandoori chicken is perfectly cooked and infused with smoky flavors, it’s time to serve it like a pro chef. Garnish with freshly chopped coriander leaves, lemon wedges, and thinly sliced onions. Consider serving it with naan bread or basmati rice and a side of mint chutney or raita for a complete meal.

Tips and Tricks

  •    To ensure the chicken remains moist, avoid overcooking it. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature.
  •    If you don’t have tandoori masala, you can make a simple substitute by blending together equal parts paprika, cumin, coriander, and garam masala.
  •    Experiment with the level of spiciness by adjusting the amount of chili powder in the marinade to suit your taste.
  •    If you’re using a grill, oil the grates before cooking to prevent sticking.
  •    Don’t rush the marinating process; the longer, the better for richer flavors.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the methods of tandoori?

A charcoal fire is built in the tandoor and allowed to burn for several hours to heat the oven. Meats cooked in the tandoor are marinated in yogurt and spices and threaded on long skewers that are placed vertically in the oven with one end resting in the ashes.

What is the principle of tandoor?

Regardless of size, shape, or region of origin, all tandoors have the same working principle — their basic structures are made up of insulating materials like clay or metal, and they often curve inward toward the top, like a beehive or jug, to concentrate the heat.


Mastering tandoori chicken like a pro chef is a rewarding culinary journey that anyone can embark upon. By selecting the right ingredients, creating a flavorful marinade, and using the right cooking method, you can recreate the magic of this beloved Indian dish in your own kitchen. With practice and attention to detail, you’ll soon be delighting your taste buds and impressing your guests with your homemade tandoori chicken that rivals any restaurant’s version.

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