Tandoori-style Chicken & Coconut Rice

Food blogs are the reason it took me so long to perfect this delicious Tandoori-style Chicken & Rice dinner recipe. I was obsessed with trying to get it to be a one pot meal, but in all my tests it was not quite right – to get the chicken perfect you need to cook it over a very high heat, which always provided burnt bits in the pan I wouldn’t want in the sauce. I tried subbing out the yogurt for more coconut milk, leaving it out completely…

But, it was not until I finally cracked and used two pans did I perfect this delicious chicken and rice meal I just know you’ll love to make for dinner later this week, served with plenty of your favourite mango chutney and a good few dollops of my Cheats Raita (it goes so well with mango chutney, actually, you could leave off the chicken, just make the coconut rice and serve it with my Mango Chutney Chicken instead!)

But, because I’ve made so many versions of this so many times, I’ve got a few more than usual tips for success when you’re making this simple Indian-inspired dinner (originally adapted from Ambitious Kitchen, but changed a lot because while I loved the flavours that original recipe did not work for me when I scaled it down to serve two).

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this dairy free by replacing the yogurt with coconut milk?

This does work, but your chicken will have less flavour and be a bit more oily. So, if you can eat dairy don’t, but if you need to avoid dairy for health reasons it will work and you can still enjoy this recipe!

Can I use light coconut milk instead?

Technically yes, but we found it made the rice a little too wet and a lot less light and fluffy than the version made with full fat coconut milk.

Help! My coconut milk has separated in the can.

Scrape it into a small saucepan or milk pan and set it over a very low heat. Then, whisk it constantly until it has emulsified.

How on earth am I supposed to clean those charred bits out of the pan I cooked the chicken in?

For a start, save yourself some work using a non-stick pan, if you’ve got one. However, you won’t want to stick it straight in the dishwasher as the burnt bits will come off and block your filter and everything in the wash with it will probably have to go around again. Once you remove it from the heat, boil the kettle and add a little boiling water and washing up liquid. Leave it to stand for a few minutes before scraping those bits up with a wooden spoon, and pouring it way. Then you can put it in the dishwasher or wash it up with ease.

How do I stop the rice sticking to the bottom of the pan?

I’m afraid this is all about the type of pan you use! In the picture I’ve my using a cast iron pan which I’m afraid it will stick to. However, some people, including me love those crispy bits! You should not get this problem cooking this in an entirely non-stick shallow lidded casserole or frying pan.

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Tandoori-style Chicken & Coconut Rice

  • Author: Rachel Phipps
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2
  • Category: Dinner
  • Diet: Gluten Free


This easy weeknight tandoori-style chicken and coconut rice dish brings together gently spiced chicken marinated in fragrant yogurt and aromatic rice, enriched with coconut milk and studded with golden onions and peas for a simple dish you’ll instantly want to add to your dinner rotation!



For the Tandoori-style Chicken

  • 65g (1/3 cup) natural yogurt
  • 1/2 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 4 skinless boneless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 tbsp light oil

For the Coconut Rice

  • 1/2 tbsp light oil
  • 1 small brown onion
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric 
  • 100g (3.5 oz) white basmati rice
  • 2 handfuls frozen petit pois
  • 200ml (3/4 cup) full fat coconut milk
  • small handful fresh coriander, for serving
  • mango chutney, for serving
  • cheats raita, for serving


  1. Combine the yogurt, ginger, garlic (peeled and crushed), lemon juice, salt and spices. Add the chicken thighs and set aside while you peel and finely chop the onion.
  2. Heat a large, non-stick frying or griddle pan over a very high heat. Working in batches if need be, heat 1/2 tbsp of the oil and brown the chicken on both sides, and set aside. Don’t worry it burnt bits of yogurt get stuck to the pan.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1/2 tbsp of oil in a medium low (approx. 26cm / 10 inch) shallow bottomed, lidded casserole dish or frying pan. Add the onion, and the 1/2 tsp of salt and gently fry until the onions are soft and starting to go golden.
  4. Stir in the spices and cook for a further minute, followed by the rice, stirring until all the grains are coated with the spice mix. 
  5. Add the coconut milk and stir in the peas. Bring to a decent simmer, and lay the chicken thighs on top of the rice. Clap on the lid, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 20-25 minutes until the rice is tender.
  6. Serve with fresh coriander, mango chutney and raita.