This is not the traditional tandoori chicken where the meat is marinated overnight in yogurt, ginger, garlic and tandoori masala, and then grilled or barbequed. This is simpler and easier to make, however, I do suggest an overnight marinate to infuse the meat with the spices.

20151018in good taste logoTandoori masala is a spice blend used to make Indian-style barbecue. The name of the masala comes from the type of cooking equipment used – tandoor, a clay oven. Many of the spices that make up garam masala are used to compile the mix for tandoori masala. While some of the ingredients vary from one region to another, the masala gets its distinct red colour from a combination of Kashmiri chillies, paprika and/or red food colouring along with turmeric that gives it that tinge of burnt orange hue.

For this dish I won’t task you to make your own masala mix, a good store bought masala would do and if you want to give it a little boost then add a bit of garam masala to the mix.

Tandoori Masala-rubbed Chicken Photo by Cynthia Nelson
Tandoori Masala-rubbed Chicken Photo by Cynthia Nelson

When I am preparing the chicken this way, I prefer to use chicken breasts because they cook up quickly and this is a fast-food type of dish for me. However, wings, thighs and drumsticks can work too but the cooking time would be longer. Also, if I use any of the darker meat-cuts mentioned (wings, thighs, drumsticks), I’d start the process on the stove top and finish the cooking in a hot oven. But let’s focus on the breasts here.


  • 1 large whole chicken breast
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon ginger powder
  • 2 tablespoons tandoori masala powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala power (if using)
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce or to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons oil


  1. Remove the skin of the chicken breast and cut into large chunks. Rinse and pat dry.
  2. Season the chicken with the remaining ingredients. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate overnight or for at least 6 hours.
  3. Bring meat up to room temperature before cooking.
  4. Add oil to a shallow frying pan and place over medium heat until very hot.
  5. Add the meat in single layer in the pan without the pieces touching each other. Cook for 4 minutes on the first side and 3 – 4 minutes on the other side or until plump and firm but not hard and stiff. (You may need to cook in 2 batches depending on the size of your pan).


  • The cooking time will vary if the breast meat is bone-in or boneless and depending on the thickness of the cut. If the meat is bone-in it will take a little longer to cook. This recipe was tested using bone-in chicken breasts. If you use boneless chicken breasts reduce the suggested cooking time by a minute on each side.
  • I know that this may be obvious but I still want to say that whole chicken breast means both sides of the breast.

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