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Tandoori-Spiced Chicken

Photo: Oxmoor House


Hands-on time 15 mins
Total time 5 hrs
Yield Serves 4 (serving size: 1 leg quarter)
Tandoors are ovens--cylindrical and deep--typically with slightly curved walls. They have traditionally been used for cooking naan. Tandoori chicken is a brilliantly marinated chicken cooked in said tandoor. It's BBQ chicken, folks, Punjabi-style. The great lesson here is the use of yogurt, both for its acidity and as a near-ideal base for a spice paste. The coagulated proteins in yogurt help the paste adhere to the chicken (and anything else) quite well. I opted to skip the oft-used red food coloring.


  • 3/4 cup plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh gingerroot
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 bone-in chicken leg-thigh quarters
  • cooking spray

Nutrition Information

  • calories 268
  • fat 13.5 g
  • satfat 5 g
  • monofat 3.9 g
  • polyfat 2.4 g
  • protein 30 g
  • carbohydrate 6 g
  • fiber 2 g
  • cholesterol 112 mg
  • iron 2 mg
  • sodium 423 mg
  • calcium 71 mg

How to Make It

  1. In a large zip-top bag, combine all the ingredients, except for the chicken and cooking spray.

  2. Run a boning knife straight down each chicken thigh and drumstick, as if to begin deboning. These pockets will allow some of the marinade to get into the meat, and will permit more even cooking later on.

  3. Add the chicken to the yogurt mixture. Massage and turn the chicken legs to ensure that they're liberally coated with yogurt and spice. Get some marinade in those thigh and leg bone pockets.

  4. Refrigerate for 4 hours to overnight. Longer is better.

  5. Fire up a grill to medium-high heat. Indirect heat is best for this dish.

  6. Coat a grill rack with cooking spray and place it over the unheated side of the grill, away from the flames.

  7. Grill the chicken legs for 20 minutes on each side, with the grill covered, brushing with remaining marinade every 5 to 7 minutes.

  8. Move the chicken to the heated side of the grill. Grill 2 minutes on each side or until lightly charred.

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