Tandoori Chicken Kebabs

Tandoori chicken kebabs are a popular Indian dish that is known for their combination of aromatic spices, and unique cooking method. Which makes for a delicious and satisfying dish.
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Tandoori chicken kebabs cooked on a charcoal barbecue are amazing. The beautiful tandoori marinade with the natural smokey infusion from the barbecue is mind-blowing!

The first time I tried tandoori chicken kebabs I fell in love with them. This is where my journey started into the world of Indian cuisine. I wanted to learn how to make an authentic tandoori chicken marinade from scratch.

It took me a long time to find the right recipe and someone who was willing to share it. Thanks to a talented Indian chef named Raj I worked with, I was able to learn how to make this amazingly delicious chicken dish.

Now it is my turn to pass the recipe on to you, so, you can create this beautiful chicken dish. You’ll be surprised at how simple this recipe is to make.

Tandoori Chicken Kebabs
Tandoori Chicken Kebabs

Why Tandoori Chicken Kebabs Are So Good

Tandoori chicken kebabs are a popular dish that originates from the Northern region of the Indian subcontinent.

They are made by marinating chicken in a mixture of yogurt, spices, and lemon juice. The marinade helps to tenderize the chicken and infuse it with bold, aromatic flavors.

One of the reasons tandoori chicken kebabs are so good is that they are cooked in a tandoor oven, which is a traditional clay oven that is heated to very high temperatures.

This method of cooking creates a crispy, caramelized exterior on the chicken while keeping the interior moist and tender. I don’t own a tandoor oven, so I’m using the next best thing my charcoal barbecue.

How To Make Tandoori Chicken Kebabs

The combination of herbs and spices that go into a traditional tandoori chicken recipe is not complicated. However, there is a particular method of combining these herbs and spices that will bring out that uniquely delicious flavor.

If you want to make the best tandoori chicken you have ever eaten outside of India you’ll need to follow this recipe to the letter.

Tandoori Chicken Marinade Ingredients

  • 1 cup Yogurt plain unsweetened
  • 2 tbsp Ginger fresh crushed
  • 2 tbsp Garlic fresh crushed
  • 2 tbsp Chili powder Kashmiri
  • 2 tbsp Ground turmeric
  • 3 tbsp Oil mustard
  • 1 lemon juice only
  • ¼ cup Fenugreek leaves toasted and crushed
  • 1 tbsp Ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp Ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp Black pepper freshly ground
  • How to season food is an art that combines creativity, intuition, and a deep understanding of flavors. That transforms ordinary ingredients into extraordinary culinary masterpieces.
Tandoori Chicken Kebabs Ingredients
Tandoori Chicken Kebabs Ingredients
  • Hung Yogurt – Firstly you’ll need to hang the yogurt to remove any access moisture. This can be easily done by placing the yogurt into a fine sieve placing it over a bowl and placing it into the fridge overnight. What you will end up with is a very thick and flavorful yogurt.
Hung Yogurt
Hung Yogurt
  • Crushed Ginger And Garlic – Peel them both and grate them on a Microplane. This will take a little time, however, it is worth it. If you’re doing large amounts you can use a Nutibullet blender.
  • You could be tempted to use crushed ginger and garlic from a jar, don’t do it. That stuff has no flavor and is full of additives. Spend a little time and grate or crush it yourself, it will be worth it.

Chefs Pro Tip — Grating the ginger and garlic with a Microplane will produce the best result. This will break up the fibrous ginger into fine pieces that will evenly mix through the tandoori marinade.

  • Toasting Fenugreek Leaves – toasting dried fenugreek leaves is easy. Add them to a hot pan and keep them moving with a wooden spoon. You will start to smell the beautiful aroma of the fenugreek leaves, don’t let them burn. This process should only take 1-2 minutes. Once they are cooled rub the toasted leaves between your fingers to crush them to a fine powder.
Toasting Fenugreek Leaves
Toasting Fenugreek Leaves
  • Infusing The Spices – Place the Kashmiri chili powder and the turmeric into a heat-proof bowl. Heat the mustard oil until it starts to smoke and then pour it over the chili powder and turmeric. Let it sit for 2 minutes, the smell is amazing!
  • Kashmiri chili powder is a mild version of the firey hot Indian chili powder. If you want an even milder version you can mix it with smoked sweet paprika. A 50/50 mix will work.
  • If you can’t purchase mustard oil, you can substitute the mustard oil with sunflower, rice bran, or refined avocado oil. However, you won’t get that exact unique tandoori flavor. So, try and get mustard oil, you’ll thank me.

Chefs Pro Tip — The process of infusing chili powder and turmeric is the correct way to make a tandoori marinade. The hot mustard oil adds that level of authenticity that a lot of chefs aren’t aware of. So, don’t skip this step. The people you are cooking for will thank you for it.

Mustard Oil Infused Spices
Mustard Oil Infused Spices
  • Pulling The Marinade Together – Mix the freshly squeezed lemon juice with the yogurt. Add the mustard oil-infused Kashmiri chili powder and turmeric. Mix well, then add the ground cumin, coriander, toasted fenugreek leaves, grated ginger, garlic, and finally 1 tablespoon of freshly ground black pepper.
  • The mustard oil-infused Kashmiri chili powder and turmeric are where the color of the tandoori marinade comes from.
Chicken Tandoori Kebab Marinade
Chicken Tandoori Kebab Marinade
Mixed Tandoori Marinade
Mixed Tandoori Marinade
  • The Cut Of Chicken – makes a big difference. I always use skinless boneless chicken thighs. The flavor is superior to the chicken breast because of the fat content. The fat adds flavor and keeps the chicken thighs moist.

Whereas chicken breasts are lean with very little fat as a result they have a mild flavor, so they can easily dry out if they are overcooked. Nothing worse than eating dry overcooked chicken. No matter what anyone tells you, use chicken thigh meat.

  • Marinading The Chicken – I marinade the chicken for at least 12 hours. I’ve marinated the chicken for 24 hours before, and the flavor was awesome. Depending on how much time you have.
  • Rub The Marinade – into the chicken thighs and layer them into a steel bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place into the fridge for 12 to 24 hours.

Chefs Pro Tip — If you’re looking for a quick marinade this isn’t it. Marinating the chicken thighs in the tandoori marinade for 24 hours will give you the best flavor profile. However, 12 hours will be ok as well. Good things take time, so you’ll need a little patience.

Marinated Skinless Boneless Chicken Thighs
Marinated Skinless Boneless Chicken Thighs

Cooking Tandoori Chicken Kebabs

Thread the chicken onto stainless steel skewers. I prefer to use metal skewers because they are reusable and don’t burn.

You can soak your wooden skewers in water for as long as you like, they will still burn. Stainless steel skewers will cost a little more however they are worth it.

The best way to cook tandoori chicken kebabs is in a tandoor oven. However, most people don’t have a tandoor in their backyard, so, the next best thing is a charcoal barbecue.

I use hardwood lump charcoal and a direct cooking method over the hot coals. I brush the kebabs with melted butter as they are cooking and turn them often. This creates small flare-ups and smoke from the charcoal.

This in turn infuses the tandoori chicken with that subtle smokey flavor which is a classic flavor profile of tandoori chicken.

  • If you are unsure if the chicken is cooked you can use a meat thermometer. The temperature should be 75°C (167°F).

Chefs Pro Tip — Let the charcoal burn down to become red-hot coals is the best way to cook the kebabs. This will give you an even caramelization on the tandoori chicken kebabs and the classic burnt tips of the chicken thighs.

You can serve tandoori chicken in a number of ways. With Basmati rice, freshly diced tomato, and cilantro. Or in a wrap or tortilla with salad and riata, or even by itself with a rich tomato-based curry sauce.

A delicious side for these tandoori chicken kebabs is sautéed purple asparagus. They will compliment the aromatic chicken skewers, a healthy crunchy addition.

The best way to cook Tandoori chicken is in a tandoor oven. In saying that, most people don’t have a tandoor oven in their backyard. The next best way to cook tandoori chicken is grilled on a charcoal BBQ. These cooking methods lend an authentic smoky flavor.

Yogurt is a key ingredient in Tandoori Chicken, contributing to flavor and tenderness. If you’re lactose intolerant or allergic, you can try using coconut yogurt. However, traditional yogurt is recommended for the authentic Tandoori marinade.

Yes, you can use boneless chicken pieces for Tandoori Chicken. The best boneless chicken to use is thigh meat. Ensure even cooking by adjusting the cooking time based on the thickness of the chicken thigh pieces.

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Watch How I Barbecue Tandoori Chicken Kebabs

Tandoori Chicken Kebabs

Tandoori Chicken Kebabs

2.50 from 2 votes
PREP TIME: | 12 hours 30 minutes
COOK TIME: | 20 minutes
MARINATING TIME: | 12 hours
TOTAL TIME: | 1 day 50 minutes
SERVINGS: | 4 people
PIN PRINT RECIPE

DESCRIPTION

DISH SUMMARY

Tandoori chicken kebabs are a popular Indian dish that is known for their combination of aromatic spices, and unique cooking method. 

Ingredients

Tandoori Marinade

  • 800 g Chicken thighs skinless and boneless
  • 1 cup Yogurt plain unsweetened
  • 2 tbsp Ginger fresh crushed
  • 2 tbsp Garlic fresh crushed
  • 2 tbsp Chili powder Kashmiri
  • 2 tbsp Ground turmeric
  • 3 tbsp Oil mustard
  • 1 lemon juice only
  • ¼ cup Fenugreek leaves toasted and crushed
  • 1 tbsp Ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp Ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp Black pepper freshly ground

Instructions

  • Hung Yogurt – Firstly you’ll need to hang the yogurt to remove any access moisture. This can be easily done by placing the yogurt into a fine sieve and placing it over a bowl and placing it into the fridge overnight. What you will end up with is a very thick and flavorful yogurt.
    Hung Yogurt
  • Crushed Ginger And Garlic – Peel them both and grate them on a Microplane. This will take a little time, however, it is worth it. If you're doing large amounts you can use a Nutibullet blender.
    Toasting Fenugreek Leaves – toasting dried fenugreek leaves is easy. Add them to a hot pan and keep them moving with a wooden spoon. You will start to smell the beautiful aroma of the fenugreek, don't let them burn. This process should only take 1-2 minutes. Once they are cooled rub the toasted leave between your fingers to crush them to a fine powder.
    Toasting Fenugreek Leaves
  • Infusing The Spices – Place the Kashmiri chili powder and the turmeric into a heat-proof bowl. Heat the mustard oil until it starts to smoke and then pour it over the chili powder and turmeric. Let it sit for 2 minutes, the smell is amazing!
    Mustard Oil Infused Spices
  • Pulling The Marinade Together – Mix the freshly squeezed lemon juice with the yogurt. Add the mustard oil-infused Kashmiri chili powder and turmeric. Mix well, then add the ground cumin, coriander, toasted fenugreek leaves, grated ginger, garlic, and finally the black pepper.
    Rub The Marinade – into the chicken thighs and layer them into a steel bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place into the fridge for 12 to 24 hours.
    Marinated Skinless Boneless Chicken Thighs
  • Barbecue The Kebabs – Thread the chicken onto stainless steel skewers.
    I use hardwood lump charcoal and a direct cooking method over the hot coals. I brush the kebabs with melted butter as they are cooking and turn them often. This creates small flare-ups and smoke from the charcoal.
    This in turn infuses the tandoori chicken with that subtle smokey flavor which is a classic flavor profile of tandoori chicken. This should take around 15-20 minutes to cook through, all depending on how hot the barbecue is.
    If you are unsure if the chicken is cooked you can use a meat thermometer. The temperature should be cooked temperature75 °C.
    Tandoori Chicken Kebabs

Chef Tips

  • Hang the yogurt in the fridge for 12 hours to remove the access moisture. This will thicken the yogurt and intensify the flavor.
  • You can substitute the mustard oil with sunflower, rice bran, or refined avocado oil.
  • For the best flavor marinate the tandoori chicken for 24 hours.
  • Brush the kebabs with melted butter as they are cooking, and turn them often.
  • If you don’t have a barbecue you can grill or broil them in your oven. 

Nutrition

Serving>1 serve | Calories>618kcal | Carbohydrates>13g | Protein>40g | Fat>46g | Saturated Fat>10g | Polyunsaturated Fat>10g | Monounsaturated Fat>21g | Trans Fat>0.2g | Cholesterol>199mg | Sodium>1988mg | Potassium>758mg | Fiber>4g | Sugar>3g | Vitamin A>1369IU | Vitamin C>17mg | Calcium>130mg | Iron>5mg
COURSE:
Appetizer
CUISINE:
Indian
KEYWORD:
Chicken Marinade
|
Chicken Thighs
|
Tandoori Chicken

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4 Comments

  1. 4 stars
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  2. 1 star
    I was curious if you ever thought of changing the layout of your blog?
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    • Thank you for your feedback! We are focused on user experience. In saying that we are giving users valuable information on how to cook Tandoori chicken kebabs. There are a number of helpful images currently that break up the text.

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