Tandoori-Spiced Grilled Chicken

tandoori-spiced grilled chicken
Photo: Christopher Testani
Prep Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
14 hrs 50 mins

An Indian-inspired entrée that will give you a newfound love for chicken halves. They take on the same juiciness and smoky flavor as a whole or spatchcocked bird, but are much easier to move around the grill. A spiced yogurt marinade tenderizes without turning the meat mushy, so you can slather it on well in advance.


  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds

  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds

  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger (from a 2-inch piece)

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for grill

  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric

  • ½ cup plain yogurt (not Greek)

  • Kosher salt

  • 1 whole chicken (about 3 ½ pounds), split in half down the spine, backbone removed

  • Mango chutney and coriander chutney, for serving (see cook's note)

  • Indian pickles, for serving (see cook's note)

  • Sliced cucumbers and fresh mint, for serving


  1. In a medium skillet over medium heat, toast cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and grind to a fine powder. In a food processor, purée onion, garlic, and ginger to a fine paste, 30 seconds.

  2. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion mixture and cook until translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in spice mixture and turmeric. Let cool completely, then stir in yogurt and 1 1/4 teaspoons salt.

  3. Rub some of yogurt mixture all over chicken; then gently separate skin from breast and rub more under skin on each side. Place chicken in a resealable plastic bag and refrigerate at least 12 hours and up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature 1 hour before grilling.

  4. Prepare grill for direct- and indirect-heat cooking (push coals to one side of a charcoal grill, or turn off one side of a gas grill after preheating). Brush grates with oil. Place chicken over indirect heat, bone-side down, with legs closest to heat source. Cover grill and cook, maintaining a temperature of about 400°F, until a thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast (nearest but not touching bone) registers 150°F, 40 to 50 minutes.

  5. Transfer chicken to direct heat and cook, uncovered, flipping a few times, until charred in places and just cooked through, about 10 minutes more. Let stand 15 minutes before serving with chutneys, pickles, cucumbers, and mint.

Cook's Notes

For juicy chicken on the bone, keep the indirect heat moderate and consistent. When you move the pieces over direct heat at the end to crisp up the skin, watch them carefully—the yogurt in the marinade can burn.

You can find Indian pickles online at www.kalustyans.com or locally at stores with a South Asian focus; store-bought versions of the mango and coriander chutneys can be found there as well, or in the International section of most major supermarkets.

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