My family loves Indian food (coconut curry chicken… mmm)! So I’m always looking for new, healthy recipes. Luckily, Indian food is generally healthy. I can also easily tweak it to include the ingredients I prefer to use.
This Indian tandoori chicken recipe is a great example. It is a grain-free recipe that uses spices for flavor.
First Tandoori Chicken Dish
So how did this dish get its name? A tandoor is a cylindrical clay oven. It has been a staple of Indian cooking for centuries. While bread and chicken from a tandoor are nothing new, Chef Kundan Lal Gujral (of Pakistan) is responsible for its signature crispy skin and red color.
After the Partition of India, Gujral began cooking at a new restaurant in Dehli called Moti Mahal. This restaurant became popular with celebrities and world leaders in the mid 20th century. Because of this restaurant, Indian cuisine is now an international favorite (and I’m so glad it is!).
How to Make Tandoori Chicken
You can quickly throw together a simple tandoori chicken (remember to marinate overnight).
First, marinate the chicken in a yogurt and spice mixture to give it its signature tangy, juicy, and spicy flavor. The acidity of the yogurt helps improve the moisture content of the chicken and also begins breaking down the proteins. The result is tender chicken!
The spice profile includes garam masala (cumin, coriander, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg). It also has turmeric, garlic, and onion. The spiciness of the seasonings contrasts with the tangy coolness of the yogurt for a fantastic flavor.
Marinate the chicken for at least 24 hours. Then, add it to the grill. While the traditional tandoori chicken was in a tandoor, today we broil or grill this recipe. This recipe calls for grilling, but you can use your oven’s broiler too.
How to Serve Tandoori Chicken (the Healthy Way)
You typically serve Indian food with rice or Naan. If you’re avoiding carbs or grains, there are other vegetable-based options.
- Cauliflower rice – While I do eat white rice occasionally, I like to use cauliflower rice when I can.
- Roasted vegetables – This dish can change based on taste (or what’s in the refrigerator!). This is a great way to add nutrition to a meal.
- Potatoes or sweet potatoes – Whether you dice and steam or roast, potatoes or sweet potatoes are an excellent carbohydrate for an Indian style meal.
- Sauteed greens or cabbage – Saucy meat dishes are great over sauteed cabbage or greens. The sauce adds flavor to the vegetables and makes it a cohesive meal.
- With some soup or salad on the side
Because of their antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, vegetables are a perfect side dish. But, sometimes you need a little bread! If you must have bread with your tandoori chicken, try my grain-free flatbread recipe.
Indian Tandoori Chicken Recipe
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 2 lemons
- 1 small onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 TBSP cilantro (finely chopped)
- Cut small slits in the chicken and place it in a bowl or shallow dish.
- In a bowl, combine the salt, yogurt, garam masala, and turmeric.
- Juice one of the lemons and finely chop the onion and garlic and add the juice, onion, and garlic to the yogurt mixture.
- Spread the yogurt mixture over the chicken.
- Cover and refrigerate for 24-48 hours.
- Preheat an outdoor grill for medium high heat and cook the chicken until the center is no longer pink and it is cooked through (about 15-20 minutes depending on grill heat).
- Cut the remaining lemon into wedges and garnish the chicken with cilantro and lemon wedges.
What is your favorite Indian dish?
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