Grilled Tandoori Chicken to Die for!

This is a staple in my household – I use this for just a casual dinner with the family or when I have people over for dinner. It is always a hit with Indians and non-Indians because it is spicy (so it is good for the Indian palate) but not too spicy (and therefore works for those not too used to the aggressive Indian flavors).  I find that among my friends, those that frequent Indian restaurants in the US are very familiar with this dish. Mine is an easy to follow version of this recipe and very authentic.   You can use boneless chicken breasts for this recipe but I prefer the boneless thighs because they stay moist and tender during the grilling process. If you can’t find boneless thighs, then breast meat can be a good substitute as well.  Alternatively one can also use chicken drumsticks (with bones) and then eliminate the use of skewers.

1.    Remove the fat from the chicken thighs by cutting it off (as shown in the picture).
2.    Cut the chicken thighs into two square inch pieces.
3.    Peel the garlic cloves and ginger and cut them into medium sized pieces (it is easier to mash them up when they are placed in a mortar pestle).
4.    Mash both the ginger and garlic in a mortar pestle (I prefer this) or use a food processor to make a rough paste of them (do not grind them too much otherwise the marinade will taste bitter).
5.    Prepare the marinade by thoroughly combining the yogurt, olive oil, juice of one lemon, half of the Shaan tandoori masala packet and the ginger and garlic paste. Do NOT add any salt because the Shaan masala already has salt in it!
6.    Mix the cut chicken pieces with the marinade very thoroughly and refrigerate for at least 12 hours. I try to marinade for 24 hours or so – the longer you keep the chicken the more tender it will be.
7.    When you are ready to cook the kabobs, take the marinated chicken out of the refrigerated and bring it to room temperature and skewer it (as shown in the picture).   (Important tip – although most kitchen stores sell metal skewers, I prefer the flat ones sold at Arab grocery stores because they keep the chicken pieces from twisting when placed on the grill. The chicken pieces tend to rotate themselves on the round stemmed skewers and they don’t get cooked evenly on both sides).
8.    Heat the grill (although gas grills work just fine, I prefer charcoal grills because the chicken gets a smoky flavor with charcoal and tastes a little better).
9.    Place the skewers over the grate and cook each side till the chicken is cooked thoroughly (usually 9-10 minutes on each side – depending on how hot your grill is!).  You could take a piece off the skewer to check for done-ness.
10.    Remove the chicken pieces from the skewers and squeeze the juice of the second lemon over it.
11.    Serve with naan or any flat bread, mint raita (yogurt sauce) and a simple salad on the side.


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  1. Permalink Submitted by Juile Neitz Weilga on Tue, 27/03/2012 - 23:07

    Dear Shubnum,
    Even though your blog has been up for a while this is the first day I have gotten a chance to look at it. We are in the mountains on spring break and your blog is making me feel very hungry. I love the way that you put each recipe in the context of your lives. I also also love all the pictures and the very clear directions. I can not cook here, but I will be back when I am at home and looking for inspiration.

    • Permalink Submitted by Shabnam on Wed, 28/03/2012 - 16:20

      Hey Julie!!!! Its so good to hear from you!!! Thank you for all the feedback on the blog! Let me know if you try any recipes and how they turn out. And please do pass the link to your family and friends 🙂 I hope all’s well on your end – it was great seeing Mark in DC! XOXO

  2. Permalink Submitted by vandita stephens on Fri, 01/06/2012 - 19:45

    Shabnam, I am trying your tandoori chicken for Sarah’s graduation party which is tomorrow! I am so excited and thanks for all your help!!! I don’t know what I would do without you! I will keep you posted on the outcome.

    • Permalink Submitted by Shabnam on Sun, 03/06/2012 - 18:40

      So what was the response to the tandoori chicken from your family and friends, Vandita? Most importantly, did Adam like it or not?

  3. Permalink Submitted by vandita stephens on Thu, 07/06/2012 - 17:42

    So Shabnam, before I give you details, all the chicken was gone! I made almost 7 pounds and everyone loved it. Adam was in heaven with chicken around him! The graduating teenagers loved it and my adult guests loved it. Not to mention, Spencer’s friends loved it. I don’t eat meat, as you know, so I can’t describe the taste to you. But based on everyone’s actions it was scrumptious!!!! Julie described it as so tender and juicy – just perfect. So I have to thank you for this recipe. And most of all thank you for being by my side, on the phone, telling me what to buy while I was shopping for the party!!! I don’t know what I would do without you, my sweet friend!!

    • Permalink Submitted by Shabnam on Thu, 07/06/2012 - 21:53

      Oh I finally got the report – I thought you had forgotten all about giving me the details:) Glad it was such a hit!!!

  4. Permalink Submitted by Saba on Thu, 04/12/2014 - 01:57

    Hi, can this recipe be used for oven baked chicken, since I live in Canada and its too cold to bbq
    And I don’t have an indoor grill. What method can be used for the oven to get the same or close results?


    • Permalink Submitted by Shabnam on Fri, 05/12/2014 - 23:49

      Hi Saba – I haven’t tried the recipe in the oven but I am sure it will work – it’s just that the the smoky flavor that it gets from the outdoor grilling process may be missing. If you do it in the oven, just elevate the skewers a little bit so that the juicy drip down a bit and don’t make the chicken soggy. Let me know how it turned out 🙂

  5. Permalink Submitted by Surbhi Lal on Tue, 13/10/2020 - 11:40

    Hi Shabnam
    I wanted to share the recipe with a friend, but I do not see quantities of the ginger garlic or yogurt etc to use with how much chicken?

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