tandoori chicken dinner

One of the hardest parts of beginning to cook for yourself is learning how to combine dishes to make a well rounded, satisfying meal without a bunch of leftover ingredients. So, I’m going to start my complete meal idea series back up!

This first meal is just a combination of a few of my favorite Indian inspired dishes. They’re all easy, all super flavorful, and, of course, customizable. Because Indian food tends to be heavy on the spices, the list of ingredients from “my pantry” may seem long, but it’s really just a bunch of spices. I don’t expect everyone to have a spice pantry as well stocked as mine, so please be aware that you can substitute and improvise. For instance, if you don’t have both garam masala and curry powder, you can use either one for both recipes and they’ll still be delicious. Also, here is a simple recipe for mixing up your own garam masala spice blend.

Just one special note: the longer the chicken marinates, the better it tastes! So start it the night before or in the morning for best results! Also, buy family sized packs of chicken for the lowest price. Divide and freeze unused portions as soon as you get home from the store.

Tandoori Chicken Dinner

This meal includes:

Tandoori Chicken Kebabs (double batch) $7.95
Quick Curried Chickpeas $3.16
Yellow Jasmine Rice $1.54
Total: $12.65
Serves: 6

Tandoori Chicken Kebab Dinner

Below is an example of my grocery list and a list of items that I already have on hand in my pantry or refrigerator. Use the grocery list as a guide but, as always, check the pantry list for items that you may not have (or need to restock) and check the grocery list for items that you might already have on hand. Adjust the lists as necessary.


2 large chicken breasts
1 medium lemon
6 cloves garlic (or about 2 Tbsp minced)
1 large yellow onion
2 inches fresh ginger root
2 (15 oz.) cans chick peas
1 (20 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 bunch cilantro
1/2 cup plain yogurt


2 cups jasmine rice
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp chicken base (or 3 cups chicken broth)
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp garam masala
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne
1.5 tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp curry powder
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cumin
1 whole bay leaf

STEP 1: The night before prepare the marinade for the chicken. Slice the chicken, coat with marinade, and refrigerate until ready to cook. (Full instructions here).

STEP 2: About 45 minutes prior to when you want to eat, begin preparing the quick curried chick peas. (Full instructions here) While the chick peas are simmering, move on to the rice.

STEP 3: Begin to prepare the yellow jasmine rice. (Full instructions here) While the rice is simmering, begin to grill the chicken.

STEP 4: Cook the marinated chicken strips on an indoor grill as described here. If the chickpeas or rice are finished before the chicken has finished cooking, cover them with a lid, turn the heat down to the lowest setting, and keep warm until everything is finished.

You will most likely have left over cilantro from the bunch (the recipe only calls for about a half bunch). Luckily, this herb goes well on top of all three of these dishes! You could use it to make a quick cilantro dressing, or try freezing it. And if the rest of that cilantro does go to waste, you’ll be out about 60 cents… which is a fraction of what you’ve saved by making this meal yourself.

The yogurt marinade for the tandoori chicken is so magical that it would easily make tofu taste like heaven. Try marinating and then grilling blocks of tofu in the same manner that I did the chicken. You’ll not be sorry.