Tandoor Style Dirty Chicken

Tandoor Style Dirty Chicken

Click here to go straight to the recipe

Cooking dirty, or directly on charcoal is a technique which many people now love and swear by for cooking their steaks. Cooking directly on the surface of the white hot charcoal gives the food an incredible charred taste. Although you may think the food would burn very quickly, the lack of oxygen in between the food and the coals actually prevents this from happening.

Finishing off chicken on ‘dirty’ also gives it a fantastic charred flavour – similar to that of chicken cooked in a tandoor, although fairly obviously, I wouldn’t recommend attempting to cook a whole chicken thigh directly on the coals for the duration unless you are going for that unique mixture of raw and burnt.
Be sure to use a good quality charcoal rather than briquettes when cooking dirty, and certainly not any kind of lighting fluid which would transfer onto your food.

I’d recommend serving this along with my Smoked Courgette Curry – the marinated chicken and charred flavours work perfectly alongside the rich, creamy smokiness of the dish.


  • Pack of (skin on) chicken thighs (6 or 7)
  • Kellybab‘ Marinade*:
  • 3 tbsp tomato puree
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 tsp onion granules
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground allsice
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 8 tbsp olive oil
  • Good quality charcoal


  1. Combine chicken thighs and marinade ingredients and leave overnight. (You can choose skin on or off, but the skin will crisp up beatifically when cooked directly on the charcoal and really, who doesn’t like crispy chicken skin.)
  2. Fill a chimney starter with good quality charcoal, light, and leave for 15 minutes or so until coals are white hot and flames are shooting out of the top.
  3. To prepare BBQ for indirect cooking, pour charcoal into one side of the kettle. You can use the charcoal baskets if preferred – I never bother, and it’s slightly easier to spread coals when cooking dirty later if you do not.
  4. Ensure all vents are fully open and allow the cooking grill to pre-heat for around 5 minutes.
    Rub the grill with a sliced onion – this helps to prevent the meat sticking, and also smells delicious.
  5. Place chicken thighs onto the side of the grill not over the coals (indirect).

    If cooking the curry at the same time, place your smoking wood on top of the coals and uncovered pan over the charcoal to cook directly in order for it to reduce.
    Put the lid on the kettle BBQ.

  6. Cook chicken until internal temperature of the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165℉. As a guide, this should be around 25-30 minutes cooking at 400℉.
  7. Remove chicken and rest for 5-10 minutes. If you are also reducing the curry, this will probably need a little more time, so keep this in with the lid on to reduce and to keep the smoke infusing.
  8. Remove grill grate (and curry if cooking) and if necessary, spread out the coals a little so that they provide a flat bed. This is an ideal time to add the cream to the curry, which can then be stirred, covered and placed on the coal-less side of the BBQ to keep warm whilst finishing the chicken.
  9. Gently blow on the hot coals to remove any ash on the surface, and then place 2 chicken thighs directly on top of the coals. Keep tongs in hand and don’t walk away, as the thighs will crisp up very quickly. Due to the oil in the marinade, this part of the cook may be a little lively, so gloves are recommended. Check chicken after about 15 seconds, and if nicely charred, turn and repeat. Repeat for remaining thighs.
  10. Eat (preferably along with a Smoked Courgette Curry – check out the recipe here!)


*Thank you very much to Kelly Bramill for letting me use her legendary Chicken Doner Kebab marinade – or the ‘Kellybab’ as it’s come to be known! Kelly’s recipe’s are all incredible – go check them out here: https://dreamingoftgl.com/


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *