Sorta Tandoori Chicken

There is this place nearby my office area that makes really good mamak food. Mamak food is a general term used by most Malaysians to denote India-Muslim fusion food. Common things we can get in these places are roti canai, thosai, chapati, spiced noodles, fried chicken… the list goes on!

mamak food

Some of my favourite mamak food

One thing I’ve always dreamt of replicating, though, is their Tandoori Chicken. It’s grilled chicken, cooked in a tandoor. A pumpkin-looking clay oven that uses charcoal. I always cringe with fear as those fearless men stick large skewers of chicken into the tandoor and then plop flatten discs of dough inside to make naan. I’ve only had moist juicy tandoori chicken at that one place. Other places get it dry, hard, burnt. But this cheerful middle-aged tandoori man near my office does it best.Tandoorimage credit: Urban Tandoor

I’m not claiming that I’ve fully replicated his recipe. No way! But I’ve come up with something that gives me the flavour of that yogurt marinade tandoori chicken is known for while cooking it in the oven. I like it a little charred for that tandoor smokiness. It’s not the same but much more doable at home where not everyone has a pumpkin-shaped charcoal powered clay oven sitting in the kitchen. 😉

For my homemade rogue tandoori chicken, I made it with:

Chicken Pieces, Yogurt, Ground Cumin, Ground Coriander, Tumeric, Sambal, Lemon Juice, Salt & Pepper
Sorta Tandoori 1

For the marinade, mix up the natural yogurt with all the spices, salt and pepper.Sorta Tandoori 2

Slather it on the chicken pieces.Sorta Tandoori 3

Make very sure to get the marinade under the skin and into every crevice! It’s maximum flavour we’re talking about.Sorta Tandoori 4

I used 2 thighs and 2 breasts just to see which works better. To be honest, both turned out really well because yogurt works as a tenderiser! Ideally, this is to marinade for about 4 hours or overnight. My chicken was already dry brined (meaning salted & peppered before freezing) so they have got sufficient flavour inside. And we were hungry. Sorta Tandoori 5

To roast these, I sat them on a rack because we don’t want soggy tandoori chicken. This mimics the well-rounded heat of the tandoor with heat going all around the chicken.
Sorta Tandoori 6

Would you look at that!Sorta Tandoori 8

I didn’t dump the excess marinade. Why? Because I don’t like wasting. And also because that would make the perfect sauce when mixed with the chicken drippings. The oils from the chicken will amalgamate with the yogurt and lemon juice to make a tangy, spiced, savoury sauce.Sorta Tandoori 9

Spoon the sauce over that beautifully roasted and charred chicken pieces.Sorta Tandoori 10

Now for a closer look.Sorta Tandoori 11

It was one lovely and simple twist on ordinary roast chicken. We had it with simple plain rice and Choy Sum with Mushrooms.Sorta Tandoori 12

A pretty well-rounded meal, if you ask me. Try it and let me know if you loved it as much as we did!

xoxoxo, Jayne

“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.” (Romans 14:17-19)

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Sorta Tandoori Chicken
serves 4


4 pieces of Chicken (can be all thighs, drumsticks, breasts or a mix of each – bearing in mind breast cooks in 1/2 the time of thighs)
1 cup Natural Yogurt
2 tsp ground Cumin
2 tsp ground Coriander
1 tsp ground Tumeric
1/2 tbsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
1 tsp (or more) crushed Chilli Sauce (I used Sambal)
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
Lemon Wedge, to serve with

  1. Pat chicken pieces very dry. Sprinkle a pinch of salt & pepper on each piece, both sides. Place in ziplock bag or a large dish.
  2. In a small bowl, mix yogurt with cumin, coriander, tumeric, hot sauce, salt & pepper. Slather on chicken pieces making sure to go under the skin and all around. Leave to marinade in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.*
  3. Preheat oven to 200C (400F).
  4. Prepare a cookie sheet pan or a shallow baking dish by lining it with foil and a layer of parchment paper. Place a roasting rack over for chicken pieces to sit on so that they are elevated and not touching the base of the sheet pan.
  5. Remove chicken pieces from marinade. Shake off excess marinate. Save marinade in fridge to make the sauce.
  6. Place pieces on the roasting rack. Roast for 40 minutes – 1 hour, or until juices run clear. Breast will cook faster than thighs so check breast pieces once it hits 20 minute mark and remove when cooked.
  7. Once chicken pieces are done, cut into bite size pieces if desires and plate up.
  8. To make the sauce, pour leftover marinade, roasted chicken juices from the sheet pan & lemon juice in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil and stir until amalgamated.
  9. Spoon over chicken pieces. Serve with a lemon wedge.

*My chicken pieces were already dry brined so I left it to marinade for about 30 minutes.


  1. Cooking in a clay pot surely adds the “special touch” to the dish, but this is a great recipe to make at home!


  1. […] reasons, fried chicken is more popular. We can easily get fried chicken anywhere, be it the local mamak, stirfry restaurants, cafes.. wherever. Not sticky wings. And so, I desire to remedy this problem, […]

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