Oven-Baked Tandoori Chicken

Happy New Year everyone! I would like to kick off 2018 with a dish that is known all over the world. Tandoori chicken is a signature dish of Punjab but has become very popular in Tamil Nadu, especially in the cities, due to the increase in restaurants serving North Indian cuisine following the migration of North Indians to the South. Even road-side eateries advertise Tandoori cooking. The traditional Tandoor oven, which originated in West Asia, is a special device that none of us have at home in Tamil Nadu. I, therefore, looked for recipes using the regular Oven Toaster Grill (OTG) and found several methods. This recipe combines the best from many sources and my own experiments in making the perfect Tandoori Chicken 🙂

Oven Baked Tandoori Chicken 1 - Kalas Kalai

Oven-Baked Tandoori Chicken garnished with Lime Wedge and Onion Rings

The Tandoori Chicken recipes from the North use garam masala in the marinade. To me, garam masala is associated with channa (chickpea) dishes and the Tandoori chicken available in Chennai does not have even a whiff of garam masala. Therefore, I have modified the recipe to resemble the Tandoori Chicken available in eateries here. North Indian recipes also specify hung curds for the marinade. I have simplified the preparation using a small quantity of thick curds. I have also shortened the marination by using 1 marination instead of 2. Finally, I don’t add colouring as I don’t know how safe the colouring agents are.

There are electric and gas-heated Tandoor ovens available now in the market, but they are very new and I don’t know how well they work. This recipe, using a conventional baking oven, works just fine.

Nutritive Value

Different parts of a chicken contribute different amounts of protein and energy per 100g. The breast contributes 22g protein and 108 Calories, the thighs give 18g protein and 200 Calories, and the legs provide 19g protein but a whopping 383 Calories due to additional fat content.

Apart from this, the nutritional contribution of other ingredients is negligible.


  • 1 medium Chicken, skinned and jointed (large pieces only) or 1 Boneless Chicken Breast + 4 Drumsticks + 4 Thighs (skinned)
  • 1 T Vegetable Oil (Sunflower Oil)
  • Wedges of lime and Onion Rings to garnish

For the Marinade

  • 2 T Ginger-Garlic Paste
  • ½ tsp Cumin Powder
  • ½ tsp Pepper Powder
  • 1 tsp Coriander Powder
  • 2 tsp Kashmiri Chilli Powder
  • 2 tsp Kasuri Methi (Dried Fenugreek Leaves)
  • ½ tsp Black Salt
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Lime Juice
  • ¼ C thick Curds (Unsweetened Yoghurt)


  1. In a medium-sized mixie/blender jar, powder the dry spices listed under ‘For the Marinade’ including the black salt and salt.
  2. Add the ginger-garlic paste and pulse for 10 seconds at speed 1.
  3. Add the curds and the lime juice, and pulse for 5 seconds at speed 1.
  4. Slash the chicken flesh, rub the marinade into the chicken and set aside for 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 200° C (400° F).
  6. Line a baking tray with aluminium foil. Arrange the chicken pieces on the foil side by side.
Oven Baked Tandoori Chicken 2 - Kalas Kalai

Marinated chicken pieces arranged in a foil-lined baking tray

  1. Bake for 15 minutes on the upper shelf of the oven.
  2. Remove the tray from the oven and drain the liquid (drip). Freeze liquid for future use.
Oven Baked Tandoori Chicken 3 - Kalas Kalai

Remove the liquid (drip) by draining

  1. Turn the pieces and put the tray back in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes.
Oven Baked Tandoori Chicken 4 - Kalas Kalai

Turn the pieces over before baking again

  1. Remove from the oven and drizzle a small amount of the vegetable oil on the pieces.
Oven Baked Tandoori Chicken 5 - Kalas Kalai

Drizzle a small amount of vegetable oil over the pieces before baking for the 3rd time


  1. Return to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes.
  2. Serve garnished with onion rings and lime wedges.


  1. If you’ve bought a full chicken, preserve the wings, neck, gizzard and liver to be used in other chicken preparations like Kovilpatti Chicken Curry or Fragrant Chicken Curry. You can also use these to make stock.
  2. Buy chicken that is only 1,100-1150g. This will be just below a kilo after the skin is removed. I’ve found that this gives the most tender product.
  3. The chicken flesh is slashed not only for marination but also for even cooking.
  4. Always keep homemade ginger-garlic paste in your refrigerator. Equal amounts of ginger and garlic ground in a mixie or blender without adding water will keep in the refrigerator for almost 10 days.
  5. I always use Kashmiri chilli powder for its glorious colour and mild flavour. If you wish to add more spice, include an additional teaspoon of the chilli powder.
  6. If you wish to start work very early, marinate the chicken the previous day, cover with cling film and store in the refrigerator.
  7. Discard any marinade leftover after arranging the chicken pieces in the baking tray. Do not pour over the chicken or you will end up with chicken curry.
  8. The baking tray is lined with foil to prevent the drip sticking to the tray. It is easier to clean the tray this way.
  9. The chicken is baked on the upper shelf to keep it close to the top heating element.
  10. The drained liquid or drip can be used like stock in other chicken preparations.
  11. If you do not drain the liquid you will end up with a chicken curry instead of a dry product.
  12. I use only Sunflower Oil as it has the most neutral flavour. I do not use Olive Oil as it is not a part of Indian cookery.

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