Chicken Tandoori

Some foods are a challenge to photograph. I usually cook in  the evenings and even if I cook during daytime on weekends, the weather hardly permits me to take photographs in natural light. I live in a city that has the wettest climate. At times, in winter  it  seems that rain never stops, so most of the images on my blog are taken under ambient room light.  They are nothing like the ones I see on some of my favorite food blogs but I am quite satisfied. However, every time I tried to take pictures of  tandoori chicken the visual appeal in them was missing that can seduce your taste buds. Luckily, this Saturday I managed to get one picture from a leftover tandoori chicken that I cooked a day before.



Look at the difference in the color of the pictures below, the one on your left is taken under normal room light and the other on your right is taken in natural daylight, even though it was a bit overcast . Now, that is the original color of the delicately spiced tandoori chicken which I cooked without the tandoor and any food dye.



Tandoori is a cooking technique for roasting food in a wood or charcoal fired oven called “Tandoor”. The fierce heat inside the tandoor sears the surface of the meat and seals the tasty juices, then quickly cooks the meat to tender perfection. Tandoors can not cook meat properly unless it is prepared in a special way. The secret to do tandoori chicken is by scoring and marinating the meat for 8- 24 hours,the longer the better. So with a good marinade you can make tandoori dishes at home using convection oven, even though it will never turn out as it does in a tandoor but you can achieve close to similar results.

The marinade used for tandoori meat dishes is heavily yogurt based.

First, because yogurt has a natural acidity, which acts as a tenderizer and allows the chicken flavors to develop even before it is cooked. Second, it is thick so it holds to the meat well and keep the herbs and spices in place and also prevent the meat from drying out in high heat.

Chicken tandoori is an excellent dish to make  at home for your family or to entertain friends, as most of the work is done the previous day and then just an hour before the guests arrive, cook the chicken and then place the cooked chicken in a serving platter covered with foil. Keep in the warm oven until ready to serve. Tandoori chicken goes well with  tandoori roti or flavored basmati rice alongside any curried vegetable with salad and mint chutney. You may even serve the pulled tandoori chicken meat in naan wraps with yogurt cucumber dip and mint chutney.




Serves: 6


  • 6 bone in, skinless chicken legs, weighing 1390 g

Traditional Spice Marinade

  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp degi mirch*
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp ginger, garlic paste
  • 1 1/4 cup thick yogurt
  • 3 tbsp mustard oil /evo oil
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp black salt (optional)
  • 2 tsp kasoori methi (powdered)
  • salt to taste
  • melted butter

*Degi mirch is a mild chilli powder typically used to add color than heat to dishes.


  1. Cut three slits on each side of the leg pieces.They should be deep enough to reach the bone.
  2. Rub lemon juice, salt, tbsp ginger garlic paste, 1 tsp degi mirch, 1/4 -1/2 tsp kashmiri chilli powder for spiciness. Set aside for 20 minutes.
  3. Combine yogurt, mustard oil, garam masala, kasoori methi, black salt and remaining ginger garlic paste and  degi mirch powder. Whisk until you have a smooth paste.
  4. Add the chicken to marinade and mix to cover completely. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and refrigerate for 8-24 hours.
  5. Set your oven to the highest heat. Line a baking  or a roasting tray with aluminum foil. Spray with Pam spray.
  6. Take out the chicken pieces from marinade, shaking off as much marinade as possible. Arrange them in a prepared tray in single layer.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes at 550 °F. Using tongs turn the chicken and bake for 10 -15 minutes.
  8. Turn your oven to broil. Brush chicken with melted butter. Broil 2-4 minutes on each side till it gets charred marks.
  9. Remove chicken into serving platter and let sit for few minutes before serving.
  10. Serve with  salad and mint chutney.


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  • comment-avatar
    Blackswan February 24, 2013 (7:11 am)

    Bal, u’re absolutely right about challenge in food photography. In my last post on the Yusheng dish, I’d trouble shooting it right as I was using a reflective foil base for the dish. I got shadows if I didn’t use flash, but if I use, the light bounced back due to the metallic base. Lol! I’m quite sad the pix didn’t do justice to the food :< I can't totally understand how u feel….

    Your tandoori chix looks yummy! Use to take a lot when I was in the Middle East & India. This dish has sentimental values. Hahaha!

  • comment-avatar
    Liz February 24, 2013 (7:32 am)

    Even before I read your post, I was going to comment on the beautifully styled photo. Just a lovely photo of a yummy dish. Winter is so tough…the sun sets so early…sometimes I make dinner mid afternoon, juts to get a good shot. My family is getting used to this nutty blogger behavior 🙂

  • comment-avatar
    LinsFood February 24, 2013 (11:20 am)

    For many, the quintessential Indian dish! I think we can all appreciate your predicament and sympathise! The final picture’s turned out perfectly, I think Balvinder!

  • comment-avatar
    CCU February 24, 2013 (11:46 am)

    Photos are definitely a challenge, sometimes harder than even making the food!
    Your tandoori chicken looks delicious from here 😀


  • comment-avatar
    Jennifer Eloff February 24, 2013 (1:44 pm)

    I love Tandoori chicken. I never thought of using chicken legs though. You are so right about the challenge of photography. I really don’t know what I’m doing half the time, but thankfully have a good camera. 😉 Have a wonderful week.

  • comment-avatar
    Bam's Kitchen February 24, 2013 (4:25 pm)

    I love all the delicious spices of a great little Tandori chicken like your little recipe. Lighting and photography is always such a huge challenge for me. I also cook some of my best dishes in the evening and fake lighting just does not do it. I hope Picassa can fix those little issues when I load my pictures. Take care, BAM

  • comment-avatar
    Nava Krishnan February 25, 2013 (12:43 am)

    I too have issues with taking pictures sometimes. A few of my recipes were not posted because the pictures were totally out. Thats ok because it gives me a chance to re-cook the same dish for my family.

    I love tandoori chicken and that pairing with the rest is simply tempting. Love it very much.

  • comment-avatar
    Liz February 25, 2013 (12:58 am)

    I did an Indian cooking course a few years ago and the Tandoori recipe was remarkably similar to yours – the only difference being that the teacher said to use paprika presumably because Degi Mirch wasn’t available locally.

    • comment-avatar
      Balvinder February 25, 2013 (9:01 am)

      Degi mirch is the indian equivalent to paprika, though it is slightly hotter.

  • comment-avatar
    Ambreen (Simply Sweet 'n Savory) February 25, 2013 (3:34 am)

    Your pictures makes me hungry, looks really delicious! Lovely color & tempting pics!

  • comment-avatar
    Coffee and Crumpets February 25, 2013 (4:19 pm)

    One of my favourite chicken recipes! Looking at your delicious pictures reminds me that I haven’t had any in a while. Some of the best I ever had was at Bundu Khans in Karachi with their amazing parathas.
    Yours look really good! And yes, pictures are a huge challenge for me too.


  • comment-avatar
    Sridevi Ravi February 25, 2013 (7:37 pm)

    Weather is a real problem for the photos. The display and the pictures look fabulous! The marinated pieces look so rich and creamy. Chicken is gaining less popularity at home but when the barbeque is fired, this is a dish at the top of the list.

  • comment-avatar
    Amelia February 26, 2013 (12:14 am)

    Hi Balvinder, your tandoori chicken look really mouthwatering, looks like to die for…. …I think I can finish 2 pieces, no problem.
    I used to made my own tandoori to go with naan bread, nothing beat the homemade. I like your creamy marinate, book marked your recipe.

    Gloomy weather hard to take good pictures. I do play around with my camera a lot, minimum click up to 50 to 80 shots in different angle and change location around the house, under lighting, near window or outside the house. After that select the best to be upload in my posting. But a bit time consuming, it take me at least 1 to 2 hours. LOL
    Anyway I enjoy photography.

    Have a nice day, take care.

    • comment-avatar
      Balvinder February 26, 2013 (8:44 am)

      I can’t change location when there is no light coming from outside. I do the photos in room light with no other extra light. I know it is really time consuming and after rejected by Taste spotting several times, I feel like I have to improve my photography.

  • comment-avatar
    anne February 26, 2013 (12:27 am)

    Bal , cooking is so much easier than taking photos of the food 😛 Your chicken tandoori looks more fresher and yummier in natural light 😀

    • comment-avatar
      Balvinder February 26, 2013 (8:45 am)

      I totally agree with you Anne, cooking is much easier than taking photographs.

  • comment-avatar
    cooking varieties February 26, 2013 (6:31 am)

    hi balvinder.. tandoori is one of my favorite indian cuisine, tastes so delicious. bookmarked with thanks.

  • comment-avatar
    Cucina49 February 26, 2013 (10:28 am)

    I know what you mean about having a hard time photographing food at night. However, I think this looks delectable–I would be happy to find this on my plate!

  • comment-avatar
    yummychunklet February 26, 2013 (6:14 pm)

    I love the tandoori flavor. This looks awesome.

  • comment-avatar
    Kitchen Belleicious February 26, 2013 (7:02 pm)

    its perfectly cooked and just looks delicious

  • comment-avatar
    Soni February 27, 2013 (12:08 pm)

    Ooh I love Tandoori Chicken any day and its my most favorite appetizer to serve! But you’re right, a good day makes a huge difference in picture quality unless you’ve invested in a lightbox!

  • comment-avatar
    Vicki Bensinger February 27, 2013 (5:47 pm)

    I’ve actually never had tandoori chicken but have always wanted to try it. Now I can. I’m hopeful some of these spices will be available at Penzeys.

    I think your photo looks great but I know what you mean. Even in great light I don’t always shoot good photos!

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    Nami | Just One Cookbook March 3, 2013 (11:57 pm)

    Your tandoori chicken looks fantastic! I must try your authentic recipe next time. I’ve been using shan’s tandoori mix… =P Time to change! 🙂

  • comment-avatar
    Asmita March 5, 2013 (5:53 am)

    My all time favorite dish! I will give your recipe a try! Love this.

  • comment-avatar
    Raymund March 19, 2013 (9:47 pm)

    Wow this looks awesome and delicious

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    Monika Dabrowski April 19, 2018 (2:55 am)

    Chicken tandori is one of my absolute favourite Indian dishes! Yours looks great!