Chicken Tandoori Tikka | Secrets Exposed

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Barbequing Tandoori Chicken

World Famous Chicken Tandoori Tikka

Chicken tandoori tikka is the most popular Indian dish and for good reason. The vibrant colors, and sweet and aromatic flavors, turn the humble chicken into something unique and amazingly delicious.

The moist texture makes it a dish that will please any palate. But how do you make this secretive marinade? What are the ingredients? And what’s so special about cooking tandoori chicken tikka over hot coals anyway? In this blog, I aim to answer these questions!

Chicken tandoori tikka is a favorite dish of mine, from a young age I have been interested in Indian cuisine. Complex unique flavors that send my taste buds into overdrive! Typically, chicken tikka is marinated with yogurt lemon, and spices before it is cooked in a Tandoor oven, on the grill, or over open hot coals.

The yogurt and spices help tenderize the meat and also give it that world-famous intense flavor. Tandoori tikka marinade recipes are as varied as the cooks who make them. Each family has its own secret recipe and secrets that they don’t share!

I have been lucky enough to have worked with a talented Indian chef Raj, who shared his family’s authentic Punjabi tandoori chicken recipe with me and now I’m sharing it with you! Including the secret method that gave chicken tandoori tikka its wonderful unique flavor.

Chicken curries are one of my favorite cuisines. In fact chicken, tandoori tikka has to be the most amazing chicken dish I’ve had the pleasure of cooking and eating. This is a dish you really need to try, next time you’re cooking chicken. It takes some time, regardless it is worth the wait.

What Is Tandoori Tikka?

Tandoori chicken tikka is a chicken dish that is typically prepared in a tandoor, a cylinder-shaped earthen oven. The chicken tandoori tikka marinated typically includes yogurt, garlic, ginger, cumin powder, Kashmiri red chili powder (or paprika), and salt.

Tikka refers to pieces of boneless chicken that are then marinated overnight, then cooked in a tandoor oven. The result is a delicious, tender, and juicy tandoori chicken recipe with a subtle smoky flavor. Chicken tikka can also be made in a conventional oven or on a gas or charcoal BBQ.

Is Tandoori Chicken Tikka Spicy?

No, tandoori chicken tikka is not spicy. It is actually a very mild dish. The spices used in tandoori chicken tikka are mostly ground cumin, coriander, and turmeric. Kashmiri chili powder is sometimes used, which gives it a subtle flavor rather than a spicy hit of heat.

Chicken Tandoori Tikka Spice Mix Ingredients

Chicken tandoori tikka spices are made up of a blend of ground, crushed, toasted, and squeezed ingredients. The most common ingredient is yogurt or “hung yogurt” which refers to hanging yogurt in the fridge overnight to remove any access moisture.

Another ingredient is chili powder, not just any chili powder it has to be Kashmiri chili powder which is mildly spicy. If you can’t get Kashmiri chili powder just mix equal amounts of cayenne pepper and paprika together.

You’re also going to need fenugreek leaves and mustard oil, there is no substitute for these two ingredients so if you can’t get them you can’t make the authentic tandoori chicken marinade. Other ingredients are fresh garlic and ginger paste, I use a Microplane to do this and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Tandoori Spices
Tandoori spices. Clockwise from top left: crushed ginger and garlic, Kashmiri chili powder, turmeric, lemon juice, mustard oil, toasted fenugreek leaves, ground cumin, coriander, and freshly cracked black pepper 
Hung Yoghurt
24-hour hung yogurt 
Microplane Ginger

Larder Stables And Must Have Kitchen Tools

  • I’ll make it easy for you. stock your kitchen with these basic ingredients – Butter, milk, Himalayan pink or quality sea salt, whole peppercorns, sugar, vinegar, virgin olive oil, and plain flour.

Essential Kitchen Tools – Must Haves

You can’t be at a professional level in the kitchen unless you own a variety of high-end tools. Genius kitchen gadgets are an essential part of any home cook’s or aspiring chef’s arsenal. From some of the best chef knives, and kitchen cookware, to wooden cutting boards. These will set you apart from others and get you ready with what you need to start making meals like a chef.

My Professional Recommendations

Seasoning Food

Maldon Sea Salt Flakes
  • As a chef the most underrated ingredient in the kitchen is salt. When my recipes call for salt and pepper I use a variety of different salts and freshly ground black pepper.

Many chefs, including myself, prefer sea salt like Maldon salt flakes or Himalayan pink salt. Both can be used for cooking and finishing. They have a refined flavor that brings out the natural taste of food.

Chicken Tandoori Tikka

Chicken Tandoori Tikka

Chicken Tandoori Tikka The Secret Is In The Spices And Herbs Which Makes It Deliciously Amazing! 
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 12 hours 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Resting Time 5 minutes
Total Time 12 hours 50 minutes
Course Lunch
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4 People
Calories 349 kcal


Tandoori Chicken Marinade

  • 800 grams / 28 ounces Fresh boneless skinless chicken thigh
  • 200 grams / 7 ounces Hung yogurt - hang in fridge overnight
  • 2 tbsp Crushed ginger
  • 2 tbsp Crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp Cumin - ground
  • 1 tbsp Coriander - ground
  • 1 each Lemon - juice only
  • 1 tbsp black pepper - ground
  • 3 tbsp Mustard oil
  • 2 tbsp Turmeric - ground
  • 2 tbsp Kashmiri chili powder - mild chili powder
  • 1 handful Fenugreek leaves

Salad Ingredients

  • 1 each Yellow pepper aka capsicum
  • 1 each Tomato - sliced
  • 3 tbsp Fresh coriander aka cilantro
  • 1 each Hass avocado
  • 4 each Garlic naan - store brought 
  • 4 tbsp Plain unsweetened yogurt


Tandoori Chicken Marinade Part 1

  • Place the hung yogurt into a bowl and add the ginger, garlic, lemon juice, ground cumin, ground coriander, and ground black pepper only.
    Hung Yoghurt

Tandoori Chicken Marinade Part 2

  • Mix the turmeric and Kashmiri chili powder together.
    Heat the mustard oil in a pot until you start to see smoking, pour the hot mustard oil over the turmeric and chili powder.
    Carefully mix with a spoon and set to one side.

Tandoori Chicken Marinade Part 3

  • Place the fenugreek leaves into a pan and toast for 30-40 seconds, then rub between your fingers until the leaves become a fine powder.
    Toasting Fenugreek Leaves

Tandoori Chicken Marinade Part 4

  • Add the fenugreek, and spice paste to the yogurt, and using a whisk combine all the ingredients together to form a smooth paste.
    Tandoori Spices and Yoghurt

Tandoori Chicken Marinade Part 5

  • Rub the marinade into the chicken thighs, cover, and place it into the fridge for 12-24 hours longer the better.
    Heating the mustard oil until smoking and adding to the spices, toasting the fenugreek leaves, and rubbing to a fine powder, are the two secret methods that give the Tandoori chicken marinade its unique aroma and flavor.
    Marinated Tandoori Chicken

Cooking The Tandoori Chicken

  • Brush melted butter over the Tandoori chicken as it is cooking this creates smoke which creates flavor and also keeps it moist.
    Prep the BBQ and light the coals, let them heat up, this usually takes about 20 minutes it will all depend on what type of charcoal you’re using.
    I place the Tandoori chicken onto skewers and place them over the hot coals making sure to turn them frequently so they don’t burn.
    What’s so special about cooking Tandoori chicken over hot coals?
    Well, it gives the Tandoori chicken that special authentic smoky flavor, and it tastes so good! It is more work but it’s worth it!
    You could cook it in the oven, broiler, or grill however the taste isn’t the same.
    The Tandoori chicken is done when it starts to feel firm, if you’re unsure you can use a digital temperature probe to check the internal temperature, it should be 70ºC or 158ºF.
    Rest the Tandoori chicken for 5-10 minutes.
    Chicken Tandoori Tikka
Keywords Chicken, Indian Cuisine, Tandoori

Serving Size: 150g Tandoori Chicken, Flour Tortilla, Salad, Plain Yogurt
Calories 349 | Total Fat 8.5 g | Carbohydrates 27.4 g | Fiber 2.4 g | Protein 42.4 g | Iron 2.24 mg

Using Chicken Tandoori Tikka To Create A Salad

You’ve just finished cooking tandoori chicken tikka only to realize you don’t have anything to go with it. There are so many ingredients that you can serve with tandoori tikka, however, the solution lies in creating a salad. This dish is a great way to enjoy a lighter version of this wonderfully marinated chicken without sacrificing flavor.

To make a chicken tandoori tikka salad start with naan and a base of sliced tomatoes. Yellow pepper, add some fresh coriander aka cilantro, avocado, and of course the chicken.

Drizzle over a little unsweetened natural yogurt, sounds like the perfect weekend lunch! When you combine these flavors with the chicken in a salad form, it’s absolute perfection, I mean it tastes so good!

Tandoori Chicken Tikka Salad Ingredients
Tandoori Chicken Tikka

My Enjoyment For Your Benefit And Value

All the ingredients in this recipe you can find at your local whole foods or grocery store. I always try to use organic, free-range, or ethically farmed products, the traceability of the product is also important to me. This usually has a story behind it that I can pass on to my family, friends, customers, and you.

Salads with animal protein there are countless variations, all you need is imagination. Try this chicken tandoori tikka recipe. Marinating and cooking the chicken over hot coals creates an amazing flavor! I hope you enjoy cooking and eating this as much as we did.

I believe that recipes are worth nothing until you share them. Let me know how you got on making my chicken tandoori tikka recipe and enjoy!

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2 thoughts on “Chicken Tandoori Tikka | Secrets Exposed”

  1. 5 stars
    You’re so awesome! I don’t believe I have read a single thing like that before. So great to find someone with some original thoughts on this topic. Really.. thank you for starting this up. This website is something that is needed on the internet, someone with a little originality!

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