Roasted Tandoori Chicken

roasted tandoori chicken

When Peter and I were in Penang at the end of May (travel guide and photos coming soon!), we had a tremendous amount of eating packed into the three day weekend in Malaysia. Among our favorites was the delicious Indian food served in Little India in Georgetown.

Aside from having delicious food, Little India is a vibrant and bustling area of Penang. While much of the city can be sleepy and slow, especially in the heat of the summer, Little India was always full of people in the streets with many vendors playing Indian music that spilled loudly from their stores and onto the streets.

So each day we stuffed ourselves with Malaysian delicacies, but we always had room for some nasi kandar or roti canai in this wonderful atmosphere. One dish that went beautifully alongside any assortment of sauces and sides was a classic tandoori chicken. The restaurant version is a distinct red, often from the addition of food coloring, and grilled to juicy, crisp perfection.

To recreate this dish at home, I skipped the food coloring and roasted the dark meat chicken in the oven. When Peter and I move to our new apartment this month, we’ll have a nice rooftop space where we hope to set up a grill, but until then, this roasted tandoori chicken is the perfect option.

roasted tandoori chicken

After massaging the chicken over and under the chicken skin (leave it on to keep the chicken from drying out!) with a creamy marinade of yogurt of bold, flavorful spices, it marinates for hours (preferably overnight at least). Then in just 30-40 minutes, the roasting process reveals a crispy, spicy chicken skin covering juicy, tender meat.

I made a big batch of this chicken on a quiet Sunday and served it alongside some curry spiced skillet potatoes. While you can certainly ladle your favorite Indian curries orroasted tandoori chicken sauces over this delectable chicken, there’s certainly no need to mask the beautiful flavors. If you make a big batch of the chicken as I did, you can serve the chicken plain one night, then use the leftovers to create another Indian delicacy that I’ll be sharing with you on Thursday — chicken tikka masala.

Roasted Tandoori Chicken

Prep Time: 12 hours

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 12 hours, 30 minutes


Roasted Tandoori Chicken


  • 3 lbs bone in chicken
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp cayenne
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • Juice of 1 lemon


  1. Preheat oven to 200 C (~400 F)
  2. In a medium bowl mix, yogurt and spices until well combined
  3. Add chicken pieces to a large ziplock bag or a large dish
  4. Pour yogurt mixture over chicken and coat chicken to marinate
  5. Be sure to cover chicken both over and under the chicken skin
  6. Remove air from bag and seal or cover dish
  7. Marinate for 12-24 hours
  8. Place in a large baking dish
  9. Squeeze lemon juice over chicken
  10. Bake for 15-20 minutes
  11. Flip chicken pieces
  12. Bake for another 15-20 minutes until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear
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