Tandoori Chicken Thighs with Saffron Rice

Adding spices to your meal is a great way to add tons of flavor to a dish without adding calories. Because you need so little of the spice to enhance a dish, it’s a pretty cost effective way to add flavor as well. (I try to buy my spices outside of supermarkets where they are really marked up. Spice Terminal in Reading Terminal was my favorite spot — I hope it’s coming back soon! update: The Head Nut is now open!) This dish in the latest Cooking Light for Tandoori Chicken Thighs incorporates traditional Indian spices which I absolutely love. I also made a quick saffron rice to go with the chicken.
Ingredients (this recipe makes 2 servings):
  For the chicken:

1 cup plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 tablespoons grated peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspooncayenne
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
5 garlic cloves, minced
4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon canola oil

   For the rice:
1 cup uncooked basmati or similar rice
1 1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 tsp saffron, crushed
1 tablespoon ghee, or butter
6 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
4 whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon tumeric
Salt, to taste

The chicken needs to sit in the marinade for 2 hours. I actually left mine overnight and it turned out just fine. Do whichever one works for you.
To make the marinade, combine the Greek yogurt, onion, ginger, cumin, cayenne pepper, tumeric, and garlic in a large bowl.
Stir to combine.
Add the chicken to the bowl and toss to combine.
Cover tightly and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
Just a quick rundown of the whole spices used in the rice:
Cardamom is an aromatic spice used commonly in Indian cooking. Those little pods pack a lot of flavor, and they smell amazing. Seriously. If someone could make me a cardamom candle and send it to me I’d be the happiest girl alive. Over a candle.
Anyways, whole cloves are actually dried flowers. They are really really pungent despite how adorably small they are, so use sparingly. Ground cloves is commonly used in wintery treats (ie. pumpkin stuff.. mmm).
Cinnamon, as is probably obvious from the photo, is the bark of a tree. It’s again typically thought of as a winter spice, used in cakes, apple cider, hot chocolate, etc. Ok. Back to our regular programming…
To make the rice, add the saffron threads to a bowl and crush with the back of the spoon. Add 1 cup of boiled water and let sit.
Add the ghee (clarified butter) to a pot or to a rice cooker. (Note: I am in love with my rice cooker. It is oh so easy and really takes the guesswork out of rice cooking). Add the cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, and cloves to the pot and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Add the rice and the water with the saffron. plus the tumeric. Mix and cover.  Cook until all of the liquid evaporated. Remove all of the cardamom pods, cinnamon, and cloves before serving.
When ready to cook the chicken, heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Add a little bit of canola oil and grill the chicken for 6 minutes on each side.
Ta da!
I love the flavors in this dish. I don’t know how many times I can say that in this post!
The colors also make me super happy. Saffron and tumeric add such a punch of color.
Chicken thighs are super juicy in comparison  to chicken breasts which is really a huge boost to the recipe. If you want, you can substitute boneless skinless chicken breasts but be careful to not dry them out.
The chicken could also easily be put in the marinade and frozen. You can just thaw before you’re ready to grill, what an easy make ahead meal!


  1. says

    Thanks for the background info on spices. I have a pork chops dish I really like that uses ground cloves to spice some accompanying apples, but never knew it’s origin.

  2. says

    This sounds delicious. I am new to your blog, so I’ve spent some time browsing through your earlier posts. I’m so glad I did that. I really like the food and recipes you share with your readers and I’ll definitely be back. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

    • says

      I’m so glad you like my posts and thank you so much for the kind words! Please feel free to contact me at any time if you have any questions or comments!

  3. says

    Hello my friend! I wish to say that this article is amazing, nice written and include almost all important infos. I would like to see more posts like this .

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