Tandoori Whole Roast Chicken

Tandoori chicken is popular Indian dish that is made by roasting chicken that has been marinated in yogurt, lemon, and many different spices. This appetizer, sometimes served as a main dish, is known for its bright red colour which is achieved through the use of food colouring. If the red colour seen in restaurants is preferred, red food colouring can be added to the marinade, however I choose not to add artificial colouring in my everyday cooking. Tandoori chicken is traditionally baked in a clay oven at very high temperatures but for convenience similar results can be achieved at home using your oven or grill.

The following is my recipe for Tandoori spice blend — It can be used to make tandoori chicken, tandoori shrimp/prawns tandoori paneer, and even tandoori roasted vegetables. After seeing the ingredient list, you may very well be tempted to buy the store-bought version of this spice mix, but just keep in mind that nothing compares to the aroma and taste of freshly a ground spice mix. I added the spices accordingly to my likes but the ratios can be easily adjusted to suit your tastes and spice level. If you want a more milder tandoori spice mix, simply reduce the amount of dried red chillies or omit it altogether.

Tandoori Spice Mix RECIPE


  • Half cup of dried red chilies
  • Third cup of coriander seeds
  • 2 Tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp fennel seeds
  • 12 cardamon pods
  • 1 and half stick of cinnamon
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp of fenugreek seeds
  • 2 star anise
  • 1/2 tsp of cloves
  • 1/2 tsp of turmeric
  • 1 Tbsp garam masala
  • 1 Tbsp Kashmiri chili powder
  • 4 Tbsp paprika powder


  1. In a dry pan on medium-low heat, roast the coriander, cumin, fennel, cardamon, cinnamon, black peppercorns, fenugreek seeds, star anise, and cloves. Stir constantly to avoid burning the spices. When spices release their aroma and turn just a shade darker, turn off the stove. Let the spices cool completely.
  2. Grind the cooled spices and dried red chilies into a fine powder. Mix in the turmeric, garam masala, Kashmiri chili powder and paprika.
  3. Store in an air-tight container until ready to use.

Tandoori Whole Roast Chicken RECIPE

My go-to recipe for roast chicken has always been Lemon-Garlic-Rosemary Whole Roast Chicken. My children love this but because I am always experimenting I opted to try something different for a change. Typically tandoori chicken is marinated in yogurt and spices but I left out the yogurt and made a mixture of ghee, tandoori mix, and garlic and slathered it on the whole chicken before roasting. I also stuffed the cavity of the chicken with garlic cloves, a piece of ginger, onion, half a lime, and bay leaves for a more flavourful tandoori roast.

tandoori roast chicken 2


  • 1 whole chicken with skin (3-4lbs), cleaned and patted dry
  • 2 yellow onions, quartered
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1/4 cup good quality ghee
  • 3-4 Tbsp of Tandoori Spice Blend
  • 5 cloves of garlic, 3 grated
  • 1 thumb-size piece of ginger
  • 2 bay leaves
  • half a lime
  • juice of half lime
  • salt to taste
  • Optional: lime wedges and coriander leaves for garnish


  1. Melt the ghee in the microwave. Add the oil and grated garlic and give it a quick stir. Refrigerate the ghee so that it hardens slightly.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare your roasting pan or dutch oven by placing the quartered onions (reserving two pieces), at the bottom of the roasting pan.
  3. Check your chicken’s cavity to see whether the neck, giblets, and kidneys are inside of it. If so, remove it and set it aside for future use or discard. Wash the whole chicken in cold water, the outside as well as the cavity. Pat dry with paper towels. The reason for drying the chicken, is so that the chicken roasts, instead of steaming. This one small step will ensure crispy skin all around. Most chicken will already come trussed (legs tied so that the chicken cooks evenly and looks pretty). If the chicken isn’t trussed, truss it by tying the legs together with kitchen twine.
  4. Season the chicken, including the cavity, thoroughly with salt and pepper. Place the half lime, garlic cloves, ginger, bay leaves, and half an onion inside the cavity.
  5. Slather the ghee and garlic mixture all over the chicken, including the underside, and wings. Rub on the tandoori spice powder, making sure to coat the chicken evenly.
  6. Place the chicken in your roasting pan, atop of the onions, and then pour the juice of half a lime on top of the chicken.
  7. Place the chicken in the pre-heated oven. Let it roast for 15min. After the 15min is up, turn down the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and continue roasting the chicken for twenty minutes per pound. For example, if your chicken is 4 lbs, you will have to roast for  at least 1 and a half hours. If using a meat thermometer, roast the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. The thermometer must be inserted into the thickest part of the breast, but not touch bone to ensure a proper reading.
  8. Every 20 minutes, baste the chicken with the pan drippings using a turkey baster, spoon, or brush. This will help the chicken stay moist and keep the skin from burning.
  9. It is best to roast without the lid, as it results in a more crispy and evenly browned chicken. However, if you notice that the chicken is turning too brown for your liking, place the cover on your roasting pan or Dutch oven, but leave it slightly ajar to prevent the chicken from steaming rather than roasting. You may also use aluminum foil.
  10. After the roasting process is complete and you have taken your roast out of the oven, let your chicken rest for twenty minutes. If you cut into it too quickly, the juices will flow out, resulting in dry meat. Letting the roast chicken rest gives it the opportunity to redistribute its juices.
  11. Serve warm with lime wedges and chopped coriander.



  • Before cooking and handling raw meat, make your sure your hands and countertops are thoroughly clean to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Take the necessary precautionary methods to store and prepare raw meat, to ensure that the juices of raw meat do not contaminate other foods.
  • If you want to avoid eating the skin, remove the skin after cooking. The skin will help the meat stay moist and tender.
  • You can serve tandoori roast chicken with any number of sides. Our favourites include tandoori roast potatoes, ratia, and biryani rice.
  • Leftover meat can be used to make soup, pasta, chicken salad, or wraps.
  • Bones may be saved to make bone broth. Check how to make broth HERE.



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