Tandoori Chicken with Basmati Rice Pilaf

Coming from Singapore, I grew up having access to a great variety of cuisine to spoil you. You had Chinese today? oh look, there’s Malay, Indian, Western, Vietnamese, Thai for tomorrow… But since moving to Calgary, my choices are quiet limited if you’re not eating out everyday. It can be expensive to eat out often and with the current economy, it is just wiser to cook at home – I get 3 portions out of every meal I cook. Bloody fantastic way of saving some coins to travel, if you’re asking me. Also, since I took the role of head chef in the house, I made it very clear to Pat that every week requires at least 1 Asian meal – simply because I need my rice, period. Hey, I am Chinese after all.

Indian Cuisine relies heavily on the spices. If you get cheap spices, the resultant flavor can be very off-putting. Alton has always said to NEVER buy spices from the grocery store but I was thinking who has the time to scout a spice store and seriously, everyone buys spices at the store so what’s the big deal? One day I was out of Oregano and had to make Pat run to the (very hippy) general store round the block. He came back with a small jar of organic oregano which cost 5 bucks. Something I would never pay. Oh boy, I could taste the oregano in my pasta sauce despite not adding much. Since then, I told myself that I would phase out ALL the grocery store generic brand spices.

My decision to try Indian cooking came after I stumbled  Silk Road Spice Merchant’s store after a breakfast out with Pat. I went crazy in there but that’s another blog post. Anyway, this rice pilaf is to die for.  Pair it with tandoori chicken or any yogurt marinated meat and you’re set! I tried to make Bhindi Masala cause I had some okra in the fridge but that didn’t turn out so well so if anyone has a good recipe, PLEASE SHARE.

My tandoori chicken is without any colouring hence the absent of the signature redness and can involve quite a few steps. If you’re feeling lazy, try this Chicken Kebab instead.

Tandoori Chicken with Basmati Rice Pilaf

Prep time :

Tandoori : 20 mins + 18.5hr stand alone time

Rice : 10 mins

Cook Time:

Chicken: 45 mins

Rice: 18 mins + 10 mins stand alone time

Yield: 4 servings.



  • 1.5 kg of chicken ( I used boneless and skinless thighs)
  • 2 tablespoon of butter
  • Chat Masala for sprinkling.
  • First Marination:
    • 1 tablespoon chili powder ( Indian chili powder – NOT the kind use to make bean chili’s)
    • 2-3 tablespoon of lemon juice
    • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • Second Marination
    • 1 cup of Greek/plain yogurt
    • 1 tablespoon chili powder
    • 2 tablespoon coriander powder
    • 2 teaspoon cumin powder
    • 1 tablespoon Chat Masala
    • 1 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
    • 1 tablespoon of grated garlic
    • 1 tablespoon of grated ginger
    • 1 tablespoon Kasuri Methi Leaves ( Fenugreek)


  • 1-1/2 cups basmati rice
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onions, from one small onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Slightly under 2-1/4 cups water
  • 1-1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup dried fruit, such as currants, raisins or finely chopped dried apricots
  • 1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds, toasted until golden



  1. If you’re using various pieces of chicken, make deep slits.
  2. In a zip lock bag, combine chili powder, lemon juice, salt and chicken.
  3. Seal bag and expel excess air. massage bag so chicken is coated.
  4. let it sit for 30 mins. Meanwhile gather the second marination ingredients into a bowl and mix well.
  5. all second marination to the bag and massage bag. let it marinate for 6 hours- overnight.
  6. Remove bag and let it come to room temperature ( you can prep the rice stuff and preheat oven during this time)
  7. Preheat oven to 480F.
  8. Line a sheet pan with foil and lay the chicken. Use half of the left over marinate and brush over chicken.
  9. Pop in oven for 5 mins.
  10. Remove from oven, flip the chicken over and brush with remaining marinate.
  11. bake for 5 mins.
  12. Remove chicken and reduce oven temperature to 320F and brush chicken with butter
  13. Bake for 10 mins. Flip chicken and brush with butter
  14. Repeat for 3 cycles. the chicken will produce water initially but will dry out after.
  15. Remove tray from oven and switch oven to high broil. Set the oven rack to 6 inches under the broiler.
  16. Broil chicken for 5 mins on each side until some char marks can be seen.
  17. Sprinkle chat masala over and serve.


  1. Place rice in medium bowl and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Using your hands, gently swish grains to release any excess starch. Carefully pour off water, leaving rice in bowl. Repeat four to five times, until water runs almost clear. Using a fine mesh strainer, drain water from rice. Place strainer over bowl and set aside.
  2. Melt butter in a pot over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook, stirring regularly, until softened but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, and garlic to sautéed onions and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds longer. Add rice to pot, and cook, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes. Add water, salt and pepper to rice and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until all liquid is absorbed, 15-18 minutes. Off heat, remove lid, and sprinkle dried fruit over rice (do not mix in). Place lid loosely over pot and let stand 10 minutes. Toss in toasted almonds, fluff rice with a fork, then serve.

I cooked the rice while the chicken is baking in the oven and they both should be done at the same time.

Tandoori Chicken Recipe

Basmati Rice Pilaf Recipe


2 thoughts on “Tandoori Chicken with Basmati Rice Pilaf

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