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Homemade Tandoori Chicken

Recreate a restaurant favourite at home with this tandoori chicken recipe. Using drumsticks, the Indian-style dish is tasty with a mint and green chilli yoghurt.

From the book

Simon Hopkinson


I know that it is incredibly easy, almost everywhere, to phone up a local Indian restaurant or takeaway and have endless boxes of tandoori chicken delivered to the door, day in, day out. And, what’s more, it will, almost without exception, have been cooked in a traditional and authentic tandoor oven, to boot. So, why make your own, I hear you ask?

Well, I just love making it, that’s all. And, it is hot and juicy, directly from my hot oven and grill. And, it is not lukewarm and dried out a bit, as some delivered versions can often be. And, if you are having it in warm weather and own a barbecue, then the charcoal flavour given to the drumsticks as they grill can, really quite nicely, offer that scorched and smoky flavour redolent of the big clay oven in the kitchens of your local Gujerati Garden or Bombay Palace. If I could also give you a decent recipe for naan bread, I would, but my feeble attempts at making that particular dough have usually ended up in the bin. Breadmaking has never been my forte. One should be utterly useless at a few things, don’t you think?

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Approx. 1.5-1.75kg chicken drumsticks, skinned
Juice of 2 small lemons, plus extra lemons to squeeze over once the chicken is cooked
500g plain and runny yoghurt (absolutely not thick Greek)
3-4 tbsp tandoori spice mix (a good brand, preferably from an Asian shop)


Using a small, sharp knife, cut deep slashes into the chicken flesh without going right down to the bone. Put into a bowl and sprinkle with the lemon juice and salt, massaging these into the chicken until well mixed. Leave to macerate for about an hour. Whisk together the yoghurt and tandoori spice in a bowl and pour over the chicken. Again, mix well until the entire bowlful is a wonderful red. Cover with clingfilm and put into the fridge for at least 5-6 hours, or overnight, occasionally turning the chicken around a bit.

Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°C/gas mark 8.

Lift out the drumsticks from the tandoori mixture and gently shake off any excess. Place a wire rack over a roasting tin and lay the chicken legs upon it (it is a good idea, washing-up wise, to line the tin with foil, as the drippings from the chicken will burn). Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the drumsticks are richly burnished and almost blackened in parts; if not, finish them under a hot grill.

Eat using your fingers, and squeeze more lemon over them as you go. And, if you would like a simple dip of some sort, add some freshly chopped mint and a chopped green chilli to some seasoned yoghurt.


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From the book: The Good Cook

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