I’m going to show you how to make a tandoori spiced whole chicken in an instant pot! Then we’re going to use the remaining sauce at the bottom of the pot (drippings) to make a delicious and comforting potato curry!
tandoori chicken + potato curry
This is a two for one recipe. That’s right. You came here for tandoori chicken but you’re leaving with tandoori chicken AND potato curry (made with chicken drippings + my onion masala).
This is an entire meal in a pot. That means you have literally one pot to wash/put in the dishwasher at the end of the night. Crazy.
Here’s how this is going to go:
You’re going to go out and buy a whole chicken – a small one, like 4 pounds. Then you’ll marinate the chicken (preferably overnight) in the most flavorful tandoori sauce (seriously, this recipe is the best… said the very biased but also very honest food blogger 🙋🏽♀️).
You’ll put the chicken in the instant pot and cook it until the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender.
Then you’ll remove the chicken and let it rest for a few minutes. Why rest? So it retains its juices and stays… well, juicy.
While the chicken rests… you’ll toss some of my magic onion masala and some potatoes into the instant pot with the chicken drippings and cook for 4 more minutes. The result? A tandoori spiced potato curry that might just be the best potato curry you’ve ever had in your entire life.
why use an instant pot to make tandoori chicken? is it better than the oven?
Is pressure cooking chicken better than roasting chicken in an oven? Yes, pressure cooking results in a tastier chicken (cue: bickering).
Here’s the thing. The oven can dry out breast meat. You also have to watch the chicken more carefully, tent the meat, make sure the wings don’t burn. Oven roasted chicken is just a little more high maintenance. The instant pot is fuss-free. Pressure cooking a whole chicken somehow results in perfectly cooked white and dark meat.
That said. If you have an actual tandoor in your house, you’re probably some sort of expert chef/cooking whiz. In which case… I’m kind of honored that you’re even reading my blog. If you have a tandoor and know what you’re doing then just use that. But if you’re like most of us and are debating between cooking a chicken in a regular oven or an instant pot…
Just trust the instant pot. And trust me.
what’s tandoori chicken? how is your tandoori chicken recipe different?
I probably should have started with this. But I’m guessing you already have a general idea, especially if you’re searching for an instant pot tandoori chicken recipe.
How do I explain the wonderfulness of tandoori chicken in just a few words? Perfectly cooked tandoori chicken is fall apart tender. It’s full of flavor.
To make tandoori chicken you first need to marinate the meat in a mixture of yogurt and spices. This helps tenderize and flavor the meat.
Speaking of spices…. spices are sort of my specialty. I know there are a lot of pre-made tandoori spice blends on the market, but I hope you’ll try my recipe as written. I put a lot of thought into the spices that I use and I tweak them until I get the flavor just right. That’s why you almost always see me listing out individual spices in my recipes (see: chana masala, sambar).
Restaurants usually add red food coloring to tandoori chicken. I don’t. Instead, I use a good amount of paprika and some cayenne. You can use kashmiri red chili (for color/not spicy) and red chili (spicy) if you’d like.
Also, traditionally you’re supposed to remove the skin before making tandoori chicken but you really don’t need to do that with this recipe… like please don’t. That’s so much work and defeats the purpose of using my simple recipe.
what’s up with mustard oil?
My recipe calls for mustard oil which adds a pungent wasabi-esque, horseradish-like flavor to this chicken. If you can’t find mustard oil you can use another type of oil. It’ll still be good… just not quite as good.
If you’re not familiar with mustard oil, you should know that in the US, mustard oil is normally sold with a warning that says “for external use only.” Despite this warning, many Indian folks cook with this type of oil. If you’re buying this from your local Indian store – just ask the owner/employee there if it’s a brand they suggest cooking with. I have opinions about this FDA required label but I’m just a food blogger and not really interested in getting in trouble with the government so I’ll keep my mouth shut. I would suggest reading this interesting article by the NY Times.
how long do I cook the chicken?
So there are “rules” and then there’s what I do…
Whenever I buy a whole chicken, it’s usually in the 3.5 pound to 4.5 pound range. I set the time (on my 6 quart) to 30 minutes with a 15 minute natural release and it always turns out perfectly tender – sometimes it literally falls off the bone in the pot.
The general rule is to pressure cook a whole chicken for 6 minutes per pound of meat. Whenever I follow the rule though, I feel like the meat isn’t quite as soft and doesn’t fall apart the way I prefer. I feel like someone needs to change this rule to at least 7 minutes. Or forget the math and just make it a total of 30 minutes.
This meal is impressive enough to serve over the holidays or for a special occasion and yet easy enough to make on a weeknight. You can serve this with pea pulao (pictured) or jeera rice or plain basmati rice as well as raita (give my beet raita a try for something festive/colorful).
I’m so excited for you to make this. I can’t wait to hear what you think of the tandoori chicken and tandoori potato curry recipes!
- 1 (4 pound) whole chicken
Tandoori Chicken Marinade:
- ½ cup yogurt
- 1 tablespoon mustard oil or oil of choice
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons garlic paste
- 2 teaspoons ginger paste
- 1 tablespoon kasoori methi leaves (dried fenugreek leaves)
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon amchur (green mango powder)
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon cayenne, to taste
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
Potato Curry (using leftover sauce/drippings):
- Combine all of the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl and mix well.
- Using a paper towel, pat the chicken until it’s dry. Then add the chicken to the bowl and coat with the marinade. Keep in the fridge overnight.
- Remove the chicken from the fridge, tie legs with kitchen twine and let it rest on the counter for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place 1 cup water into the instant pot and then place a trivet in the pot.
- Put the chicken on top of the trivet.
- Secure the lid, close the valve and cook at high pressure for 30 minutes.
- Naturally release pressure for 15 minutes.
- Remove the chicken and place it on a platter. Let the chicken rest for another 10 minutes before cutting into it. Meanwhile, keep the drippings/sauce in the pot and use it to make potato curry (see below).
- Serve with red onion, lemon wedges and garnish with cilantro.
- There’s no need to broil this tandoori chicken in the oven after pressure cooking. This (see photo above) is what it looks like right out of the pressure cooker. However, if you prefer a more roasted look, you can broil it for a few minutes.
- I don’t bother making slits in the chicken but you can if you’d like! I personally think the flavor infuses just fine with an overnight marinade and I also think the chicken looks better without cuts (presentation matters sometimes!).