Pakistani Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori Chicken is probably one the most loved Pakistani BBQ items. I remember those late summer nights back in Pakistan when my dinner was only a good juicy tandoori chicken from Ambala foods. I would wait in the car outside the storefront with my sisters and watch the guy in his sweaty kurta effortlessly flip the birds on the grill often with tongs, but sometimes with his bare hands. The hot to-go container exudes that strong, charred smell mingled with the most aromatic blend of Pakistani spices that instantly makes your mouth water. It hits your nostrils so hard you almost start crying. OK, maybe not. But you know where I’m headed, don’t you?

Tandoori Chicken

 

Pakistani Tandoori Chicken

Now I’m 8000 miles away trying to replicate those flavors and smells of those nights back home when dinner was a family affair and meals were always taken at the table. Now I chow down everything right at the counter. But let me tell you I come so darn close to the restaurant-quality tandoori chicken that my brother (and yes, yet again I’m treating my brother’s word like it’s the holy word) said that I outdid myself with the roast! And because I make it in the oven, I’m not wasting time getting a grill going (I’d love to only if I had one). I give this Tandoori Chicken that smoky punch that we know a good tandoori chicken must have by placing a lit charcoal in the center of large pan, surrounding it with the oven-baked chicken, and finally “anointing” that coal with some vegetable oil. This is where the magic happens. As soon as the trickle of oil hits the burning coal, the smoke that materializes will seep into the chicken. So, pop the lid on and let the smoke penetrate and flavor the chicken. This Tandoori chicken with my Seekh Kebab is a duo that cannot be beat!

Pakistani Tandoori Chicken

4.7 from 3 reviews
Tandoori Chicken
 
Cook time
Total time
 
Learn how to make the best tandoori chicken in the comfort of your kitchen with all that smoky goodness!
Author:
Recipe type: Tandoori Chicken
Cuisine: Pakistani
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 6 Chicken Leg Quarters
  • Marinade:
  • 3 tsp red chilli powder (cayenne)
  • 4 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • ¾ tsp cumin powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1¾ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp chickpea/gram flour
  • 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • ¼ cup full-fat yogurt
  • Juice of half a lemon (about 4 tbsp)
  • For the smoke:
  • 1 charcoal
  • A little Oil
Instructions
  1. Wash and pat dry the chicken really well. With a knife make cuts on the surface of the chicken at an angle.
  2. Mix together all the marinade ingredients. Rub the marinade onto the chicken working it into the slits.
  3. Cover with foil and let the chicken marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours (overnight is best).
  4. When you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
  5. Line a baking tray with foil and grease it with a little oil. Place your chicken face up on the foil and bake at 425 F for 15 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 400 and let the chicken bake for another 30 minutes flipping once during the baking time. (At this point you will not need to brush it with oil because unlike the open grill on which the chicken does not steam, the oven creates a lot of steam so the chicken will cook in its own juices. We're basically waiting for the juices to fully evaporate.)
  6. To create the charred texture, place the grill on the top rack and turn on the broiler. Let the chicken broil for 10-15 minutes (flipping once). If you don't have the broiler option, just put the grill on the top rack and turn up the temperature to the highest setting on your oven. At this point you should notice the chicken start to crisp up so brush it will a little oil if needed. (Although it's a little dangerous, but I try to hold up the chicken to the flame of the oven to get the black spots on the chicken but don't do this please!)
  7. Total baking time is around 60 minutes.
  8. Final step is to smoke the chicken. For this, light up a charcoal on the stove. Nestle the lit coal in a foil blanket.
  9. Next place the foil in the center of a large pan. Carefully place the chicken leg quarters around the coal.
  10. Next, pour a little oil (about a 2-3 tbsp) right on top of the burning coal.
  11. The smoke would release instantly. Pop the lid on and let the chicken smoke for 5-10 minutes. You are not turning on the stove at all, just smoking the chicken.
  12. Serve with my Coriander and Mint Raita and serve hot!
 

20 comments

  1. Amazing, the best Tandoori Chicken ever!!! – thanks for sharing

  2. hi, i really like this recipe. i was first introduced to it and the technique of smoking the chicken by a Pakistani friend of mine. But i have few questions about the smoking part. i always wondered if it was safe (the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning) and what precautions should i be taking, like how long can i leave the coal in there. I did taste a bit of gasoline-like aftertaste so that’s what concerned me and after a little research i found a chef on youtube who adviced to use ghee along with clove and a bit of cinnamon stick instead of oil on the coal (unfortunately i can’t seem to find that video now). Is there a name to this type of smoking and does it originate in pakistan? please do let me know. Thanks loads. 😀

    1. Hi Jannat! This form of smoking food is called dhungar. I believe it originated in Rajasthan made popular by chefs who served the royalty. Because the live coal is left in the pot for only 3-4 minutes with the lid on, there is not too much to worry about, specially because we’re not cooking and just flavoring the food. But I will look more into this. You can definitely replace oil with ghee, and if you want extra spices in there, place them on the burning coal first and then pour the ghee–thanks for this idea! Hope this helps!

    2. Yes I suppose its safe providing you don’t do this often or even bbq that often. Also I too felt a difference in taste when i used ghee instead of oil. Quality of oil differs, especially the heavily refined oils will tend to have that kind of aftertaste…so ghee would be a safe route in my opinion.

  3. You sure about half a lemon being almost 4 tbsp? Or you meant 4 tsp?

    1. That would be the big lemons we get here in the states.That does come to about 3-4 tbsp.

  4. What kind a marinate are you using, Thanks

    1. Hi Sara, it’s all in the ingredients:)

  5. Hey! Should the chicken be covered with foil when in the oven?

    1. HI Manaal, foil is not needed. But depending on your oven, you may have to just creat a little foil tent during the last few minutes of cooking. But I don’t use foil because when I broil, I’m specifically looking to char the skin. Hope this helps:)

  6. This is the second recipe of yours I have tried. This time I cooked for my family. Everyone absolutely loved it. My sister ate the chicken till the bone was visible (normally she just shreds off the top) total complement. Thank you once again!!

  7. This is the second recipe of yours I have tried. This time I cooked for my family. Everyone absolutely loved it. My sister ate the chicken till the bone was visible (normally she just shreds off the top) total complement. Thank you once again!!

    (For some reason The website would not allow me to rate this 5 stars 🙁 )

    1. Thanks for the 5-star review!:) I’ll have to check why the rating won’t work.

  8. Well, I googled a recipe for this and chose your recipe.
    Wife and kids said, it was the best ever. I modified it a bit, skipping the flour and cooking over a barbecue
    Thanks !! Keep it up. Cookup more karachi recipes please !

    1. Thanks so much for trying Waseem:)

  9. Made this yesterday and it was really good! Thanks for sharing the recipe 🙂

  10. I don’t have charcoal so can skip that part and make chicken . Will that taste good ?

    1. It will still taste good but will lose that smoky flavor that Tandoori Chicken is so popular for.

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