Baked Tandoori Chicken with Rice and Vegetables (Rice Cooker Shortcut)

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Super easy baked Tandoori Chicken with rice and vegetables. Relax while dinner cooks when you use a rice cooker and air fryer (optional). 

tandoori chicken on a bed of rice pilaf with a mango salsa side and toasted flaked almonds

I have a confession:

I coveted my neighbour’s rice cooker.

I was, in fact, supposed to be there envying her new Thermomix.

And while the Thermomix is pretty swish, it was the unassuming rice cooker, sitting in a dark corner of the kitchen, quietly cooking away perfect rice, that caught my interest.

No burnt pot. No boiling over. No watching. No stirring.

Now, a rice cooker can’t slice and dice, crush nuts, knead dough, or make sorbet in a single minute, but it can effortlessly cook perfect rice.

And surprisingly, a whole range of other foods.

With fewer zeros after the dollar sign.

In fact, I got my basic rice cooker for under $30. And the basic one has all the functionality needed.

So, while the Thermomix seemed to steal the limelight, it was the rice cooker I ended up having a secret love affair with.

Cooking Baked Tandoori Chicken and Rice-Cooker Vegetable Pilaf

First things first, you DON’T NEED A RICE COOKER to make this dish. It works just as well in a pan on the stove. The rice cooker makes things easier but isn’t necessary.

Throw the chicken in the oven.

Put the rice in the rice cooker.

Pour a glass of wine and relax…

Who am I kidding?

Fold the washing, help the kids with the homework, prep tomorrow’s lunchboxes and look for hubby’s keys.

One can dream, at least.

Either way, it’s an easy dish to prepare and cook.

Prep the Vegetables

You can add any vegetables you like to this dish, but the main ones I use are carrots and peas. I also add zucchini when I have it—capsicum, baby spinach, and corn would be other great additions.

Cut up the vegetables into bite-size pieces before you start cooking the chicken. That way, everything will be cooked and ready at the same time.

You can save time on the night by pre-cutting the vegetables – in the morning, the night before or during your weekly food prep session. Store the cut vegetables in a container in the fridge.

To avoid chopping vegetables altogether, use frozen vegetables and add them at the point in the recipe where it says to add the frozen peas.

Prep and Cook the Chicken

To marinate the chicken, mix together the yoghurt and the tandoori paste in a bowl and then mix in the chicken. Use one tablespoon of tandoori paste for a less spicy flavour and two for a full flavour. The chicken can be marinated right before you cook it, or you can marinate it in the morning or the day before.

Double or triple the chicken part of the recipe and then freeze the extra in batches. This makes meal planning cheap and easy.

If you’re cooking for one or two, you can marinate all the chicken according to the recipe and then freeze the excess in portions for later.

To cook, preheat the oven to 180°C, place the chicken on a tray, throw it in the oven, set the timer and that’s dinner half done. For black crispy bits, turn up the temperature to around 200°C and cook for less time.

If you don’t have an oven, you can cook the chicken in a frying pan. Be warned, though—it splatters and is messy!

Alternatively, cook the chicken in the air fryer. It will take less time, and you will save money on electricity.

Check that the chicken is cooked through by slicing into the thickest part of the meat. No pink means cooked.

Cook the Pilaf

While the rice is mostly self-cooking, you’ll need to spend 5 minutes sweating the onions and vegetables.

To cook the pilaf, switch the rice cooker to ‘cook’, add the oil and let it warm up. You may need to leave the lid on at this point to weigh the bowl down enough to cook.

Then add your vegetables and let them sweat. 3 minutes.

Stir in the spices and ginger and cook. 1 minute.

I won’t lie: I *cheat* and use bottled ginger.

Then stir in the rice, coating it in the flavoured oil. 1 minute.

Finally, stir in the stock, peas, salt to taste. Put the lid on, check that the rice cooker is on ‘cook’ and the rice cooker will do the rest. While you rest. Smelling the mingling aromas of cardamon and tandoori flavours.

Once the rice cooker clicks over to ‘warm,’ the pilaf is done. Stir the rice to fluff it up, and then serve.

rice cooker pilaf

Serve topped with the sliced chicken and a scattering of slivered almonds.

By the way, the almonds are optional, but they really make the dish. They give the rice a delicious texture and crunch. If you like, you can toast them in a dry frying pan (no oil) until slightly browned for extra flavour.

And Now, a Story…

tandoori chicken with a side of rice pilaf cooked in the rice cooker and topped with a mango salsa

Indulge me a moment while I relate a story; it’s relevant, I promise, but feel free to skip ahead to the recipe.

Last year I decided to do a cookbook challenge where you cook every recipe from a single cookbook. I went in blind, grabbing the Broadsheet Melbourne Cookbook off the shelf the last time I was in Melbourne.

It’s going to take me more than a year; the recipes are from Melbourne cafes and restaurants, and some of them use specialty ingredients or are more complicated than your everyday home cooking. And with the price of groceries going up and up, fancy recipes aren’t exactly in the budget.

However… every. single. recipe. I’ve tried so far has been amazing. The most recent recipe was a tandoori chicken with a mango and ginger salsa.

So good!

So good, we make the salsa when the mangos are in season, and the kids fight over it.

So good, we make the tandoori from scratch using spices, including Fenugreek leaves, which I had to find in a specialty Indian grocery store.

Unless you’re planning to take on a cookbook challenge, it’s definitely a book to borrow from the library. But if you’re looking for a delicious mango salsa, it’s worth checking out.

Now onto the recipe.

Yield: 4


tandoori chicken on a bed of rice pilaf with a mango salsa side and toasted flaked almonds

This baked tandoori chicken and vegetable pilaf is inexpensive and very easy to cook. Throw the chicken in the oven and cook the pilaf in the rice cooker!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes


  • 4 Chicken thighs or breasts, no skin
  • 1/2 cup plain natural or Greek yoghurt
  • 1-2 Tbsp. tandoori paste
  • 1 Tbsp. of preferred cooking oil
  • 1/2 – 1 onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 2cm of ginger, grated*
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 cardamom pods, crushed slightly
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups basmati rice**
  • 2 cups of chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup of frozen peas
  • 2 Tbsp. toasted slivered almonds to serve (optional but delicious)
  • coriander/cilantro leaves to serve (optional)


  1. Mix together the yoghurt and tandoori paste in a bowl. Add chicken to coat and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 180°C. Place chicken on a tray and cook in the oven for 40 minutes or until cooked through. Test by slicing in the thickest part of the meat.
  3. Meanwhile, put the rice cooker on ‘cook’ add a little oil along with the onions, carrots and zucchini and sweat for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the spices and ginger, stir and cook for a further 2 minutes. Stir in the rice and let it absorb the flavour of the spices.
  5. Stir in the stock, peas and a little salt. Cover with the lid. Make sure your rice cooker is still set to ‘cook’ and then leave it to cook the pilaf. It will take around 20 minutes but the exact time will depend on your rice cooker.
  6. Once the rice cooker clicks over to ‘warm’ give the pilaf a stir to fluff up. It can sit on warm for a while.
  7. Slice the chicken once cooked and serve on the pilaf sprinkled with almonds and coriander.


*If you’re using ginger in a jar, use 2 teaspoons or to taste.
** You can use any rice, really. Rinse beforehand if preferred.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 545Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 173mgSodium: 644mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 4gSugar: 11gProtein: 42g

Nutritional information is calculated automatically using the Nutritionix database. Nutrition information can vary for a recipe based on factors such as precision of measurements, brands, ingredient freshness, serving size or the source of nutrition data. We strive to keep the information as accurate as possible but make no warranties regarding its accuracy. We encourage readers to make their own calculations based on the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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