Tandoori Chicken w/ Curry Pineapple Rice


Dave and I, after much painful trial and error, have declared Sundays “socializing-free zones,” which means that except for major occasions—like a friend’s recent wedding—we don’t make plans with other humans on Sundays.

Sunday is our day to sleep late, do laundry, cook for the week, taunt the cat about being a skinny-ass Zombie beast, read books, take a nap, sit in the yard and think about nothing… or scrap all of that and just lie in bed with the A/C cranked while watching an entire season of a show on DVD. (This Sunday, I was in my pajamas until about 2:00 p.m. Awesome!)

Once the chores are done, we reward ourselves with Dinner & A Movie™. Our dining room table faces the TV, so we dim the lights and sit side-by-side, just like the Alamo Drafthouse, only Zone-friendly and free. This week, we watched Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus:


And we ate paleo-fied Indian food: Tandoori Chicken, Mint Chutney, and Oven-Roasted Curry Pineapple Rice. I give the dinner 4 stars; my compliments to the cook (me!). The movie gets 4 stars for cheesetasticocity and 1 star for overall quality.

Tandoori Chicken with Curry Cauliflower Pineapple Rice | meljoulwan.com

Grilled Tandoori Chicken

Serves 4-6 | Prep 10 minutes | Marinate 2 hours or overnight | Cook 30 minutes | Whole30 compliant

  • 1/2 cup canned coconut milk

  • juice of 1 lemon

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander

  • 1 teaspoon powdered ginger

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts (or a mix)


In a large bowl, mix everything except the chicken. Place the chicken in a large food storage bag and pour in the marinade. Seal and squish around so the chicken is coated. Marinate in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours or up to overnight.


To roast: Preheat oven to 425F. Cover a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack on top. Arrange the chicken in a single layer on the wire rack and roast 20-30 minutes until starting to brown and cooked through.

To broil: Preheat broiler. Place the chicken on a broiler pan and broil, about 5-6 minutes per side, until starting to brown and cooked through.

To grill: Preheat the grill on high with the lid closed until very hot, about 10-15 minutes. Grill the chicken, covered, 5-6 minutes per side, until starting to brown and cooked through.

Mint Chutney

Serves 4-6 | Prep 5 minutes | Whole30 compliant

  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh mint leaves

  • 1/2 fresh jalapeño

  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves

  • 1/4 small white onion

  • zest of 1 fresh lime

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and purée until smooth. Be glad you have a nose; your house will smell awesome! Place in fridge for about an hour before eating. This will taste fresh and delicious for 3-4 days.

Oven-Roasted Curry Pineapple Rice

Serves 4 | Prep 10 minutes | Cook 25 minutes | Whole30 compliant

  • 1 head fresh cauliflower

  • 1/2 cup canned pineapple chunks (sugar-free, packed in juice)

  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced

  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

  • 1/4 cup raisins

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil

  • 1 teaspoon Indian curry powder

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1-2 tablespoons ghee, melted


Break the cauliflower into florets, removing the stems. Place the florets in the food processor bowl and pulse until the cauliflower looks like rice, about 10 to 15 pulses.


Cut the pineapple chunks in half. In a very large bowl, mix the riced cauliflower, pineapple chunks, scallions, almonds, and raisins. In a small bowl, place the coconut oil, curry powder, and salt. Microwave until the oil is melted, about 20 seconds, mix, and pour the oil over the cauliflower. Toss with a rubber spatula until the veggies are coated in the seasonings. Spread the rice evenly on two large, rimmed baking sheets. Roast 15 minutes, then stir the veggies, spread flat again, and return to oven for 10 minutes. Pour the melted ghee over the rice and stir to coat.

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  • Christie says:

    This Curry Fried F'rice is the BEST STUFF EVER!!! I probably make it a minimum of 3 times a month w/ various ethnic dishes. . . my new favorite pairing is w/ a Paleo-ized version of Chicken Tikka Masala – YUMMO! Thanks so much for sharing this awesome recipe!!

  • Jessie says:

    I made the Grilled "Tandoori" Chicken and Oh.My.God. absolutely delicious!! Thank you!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Jessie –> Hooray! I'm glad you like it. And this reminds me… it's been a while since I made it. Might be time to try it again.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Christie –> I LOVE Chicken Tikka Masala. You MUST share. Post here or email me at the address above… glad you like the Curry Fried F'rice!

  • Christie says:

    Hey Melissa – I actually just posted the recipe for the Tikka Masala on my blog yesterday 🙂 – here's the link:

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Sweet. Thanks, Christie!

  • Lyn says:

    My husband and I have loved every one of your recipes that we've tried so far. But the grilled Tandori chicken is seriously special. We used our cold left over chicken on salad and it was spectacular.

    The free recipes you post have helped us learn to eat Paleo and enjoy delicious Paleo meals. It's loving and generous of you to share. I've suggested your site to many friends and family.

    When you do decide to put together a cookbook I'll be first in line to pre-order. (Make it a binder, please.)

    Again, thank you. I'm very appreciative.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Lyn –> I'm so glad the recipes are helping you out! And you are super sweet to take the time to comment and let me know… thank you! I'm hoping to have the cookbook out in the Fall. Lots of cooking and writing and photographing to do this summer!

    • tina d says:

      I just made the curried fried f’rice tonight and it tastes NOTHING like cauliflower. That’s meant as a compliment, though I actually love cauliflower. I bet my nieces and nephews would even eat this. Well… if I subbed out the curry for maybe soy sauce. 😛

      Cannot WAIT until your cookbook comes out. I can think of at least 3 people who will be receiving it as a gift. Keep us posted!!

  • Mel says:

    Hey, Tina! Isn’t it amazing how cauliflower can be transformed?! Love that!

    I’m working on two new versions of fried f’rice: one more traditional Chinese and another curry version with some fun surprises mixed in.

    The cookbook will be out in the fall, and I’m thrilled you want to share it with others. Thanks for the support!

  • Nora says:

    Hi Melissa,

    Let me start by saying I LOVE YOUR BLOG!! I’ve been doing the dino-chow nutritional plan for about a month now, and thanks to you – I am finally learning how to cook, and have been eating some of the best food in my entire life. I can’t wait until your cookbook comes out, I’m really looking forward to it.

    With that being said, I want to make the mint chutney you have listed on here but I can’t tell what the last ingredient is after the ginger. It says “1/2 teaspoon” but I can’t see what comes after that 🙁 Thank you!!

  • Mel says:

    Nora –> Thanks for pointing that out! This chutney is really good, and the missing ingredient was salt! Note that I changed it to 1/4 teaspoon… the last time I made it I thought it was too salty. You will really like this with curries!

    Thanks, too, for your kind words about my blog. I’m really glad to know that you’re finding it helpful. YAY!

  • Nora says:

    Wow, not only helpful – but you are really fast with your responses! Thank you, thank you, thank you – I really appreciate it. I wish you the best of luck with your adventures in cooking 🙂

  • KimA says:

    Made the entire meal x 3 so we could ALL enjoy some leftovers–all delish. Thanks for the great recipes! You have given the entire fam a chance to experience Indian (and other ethnic cuisine) through healthy, real food prepared at home. Keep up the great work!

    • Mel says:

      I prefer exotic and ethnic food to American, so I’m really excited about the idea of (1) adapting more recipes and (2) having y’all join me in the international paleo food court.

      This comment totally made my day… thanks for sharing!

  • Brittany says:


    Like you, I’ve had a crazy October, although I was traveling the country for work, not exploring dark and twisty streets, unfortunately. I’ve been eager to get back into the kitchen, too, especially with the changing weather here in Portland, and this meal is the perfect one to get me started.

    I dug through your index to find some Indian food because (you’ll love this) I was inspired by a novel! I’m reading The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. She’s one of my favorite authors – her writing is plain and simple, but so emotional and rich. She writes about Bengali immigrants – and their food, of course. I could practically smell the simmering curry, taste the chunks of lamb, and tomorrow night, it’s going to be all mine!

    Thanks again for your great paleo recipes. There’s something so infinitely satisfying about measuring a dozen different spices into a bowl in preparation for a delicious meal. Can’t wait for that cookbook!

    • Mel says:

      I love that your tastebuds were inspired by a novel. That is right up my alley! And now I want to read The Namesake.

      I’m glad you’re enjoying the recipes. If you’re looking for another book that inspires lovely eating, check out The Night Circus. AMAZING, magical story and lots of references to luscious food.

  • Gina says:

    Any suggestions for baking time/temp? Can’t wait to try it but don’t have a grill! Thanks!

  • Mandy says:

    Hi there! I was wondering what you thought about subbing a curry powder blend for the individual spices? Shockingly, I am out of cumin.

    Can’t wait to try! Thank you!


    • Mel says:

      Are you thinking about a more traditional Indian curry blend with turmeric… the yellow kind? I think that would work just fine. It will be a different flavor than above, but it should be yummy! Let me know how it comes out!

      (I felt a little faint when you said you were out of cumin 😉

      • Mandy says:

        Hi there! Sorry for the delay…yes, the yellow kind. It turned out well but lacking a nice Indian kick. I will have to stick more closely to your recipe. Or is there a Penzeys curry you recommend?

        I knew you would die about the cumin…and i am STILL out. Must make a Penzeys run stat!

        Thanks again for being awesome!

        • Mel says:

          I love Penzeys Maharajas Style Curry… spicy with a touch of sweetness so it doesn’t have that harsh turmeric bite.

  • Ann says:

    I made this with chicken breast and then decided to double it and make a bunch of legs too so there would be leftovers … but no luck because my (super picky) in-laws and my 4 year old devoured every last bite. My 4 year old ate 4 chicken legs!

    Thank you for making this journey so fun for me and my family!

  • Kryssie says:

    Is there a substitute for the pineapple? I’m allergic, but I want to make this SO BADLY! 🙁

  • Jody says:

    When your recipes call for coconut milk, do you mean canned coconut milk or the kind you buy in the carton? Sorry… brand new to this whole Paleo thing. =)

    • Mel says:

      That’s a very good question! To be compliant with paleo, you always want the canned coconut milk. The kind in the carton almost always has added sugar and other stuff. In the can, if you can get it without guar gum, that’s best — but if not, guar gum is OK. Organic is really great, too. Thai Kitchen is a pretty good brand that’s available just about everywhere.

  • Jody says:

    Thank you so much!

  • Jody says:

    This was an AMAZING dinner! Just moved and we’ve been in transition so we haven’t been eating very well. What a wonderful way to get us on the right track! My 4 and 5 year olds LOVED the califlower!!! Thank you so much!!!

  • Catherine says:

    Canola oil?? Really? I thought that was off-limits for the Whole30 crowd?

    • Mel says:

      Great catch! As you can see, this is an old recipe, back from when I was first exploring paleo. I’ve updated the recipe to remove the canola oil.

      Thanks, Eagle Eyes!

      • Catherine says:

        I’m on day 12 of the Whole 30 and heard your site was THE place for inspiring recipes. I’m going shopping today and going to try this tonight. It looks fabulous. 😀

  • Kerri says:

    Hi! We are about to start the Whole 30 and I am desperately looking for meals I can fix ahead of time and freeze. Can your curry fried frice, paleo pad thai, and EZ coconut curry be made ahead and frozen, and then warmed back up in the skillet? Thanks so much in advance – loving this site!

    • Mel says:

      Cauliflower rice doesn’t freeze well at all, I’m sorry to say. I tried it once, and it was awful. It just turns to mush when it defrosts.

      I think the pad thai won’t freeze well, either. You can make the spag squash, sunshine sauce, and chicken in advance and keep in the fridge for 4-5 days, but it won’t defrost well — it will get mushy and watery.

      Curries hold up pretty well — as do stews and chili. If you want to make in advance and freeze, I recommend:
      Rogan Josh
      Beef Stew Provencal
      Chocolate Chili
      Greek Beef Stew
      Vampire Fighting Pork Stew

      You can get the links to all the recipes in this post — http://www.theclothesmakethegirl.com/2014/01/11/whole30-2014-week-3-food-plan/ — ion Step 3, under the heading Let’s Get Cooking.

      • Kerri says:

        Thank you so much for responding to my question! I just changed my make ahead meal plan and made the chocolate chili – it’s delicious! And it’s now in a ziplock in the freezer, ready for a night when I feel lazy. Thanks again – we are loving your recipes!

  • Meg says:

    We love to grill an upright chicken; could you adapt this recipe for intact whole bird? Or best to chop up into pieces. Also, when you say ‘covered’ we’re taking about foil on the bird or lid down on grill?

    • You can do this with a whole chicken — you might need to double the marinade, and then grill or roast the whole bird the way you usually would.

      “Covered” means “close the lid of the grill.”

  • danielle says:

    For the oven-roasted curry pineapple rice, you say to roast 15 min but don’t specify a temperature. Same temp as the chicken (425)?

  • danielle says:

    Alright, made this yesterday. Conclusion: YUM !! There is only so much room in my one oven or I would double the rice recipe, because yum. My husband doesn’t usually go back for more chicken, but we both did this time. So yum. Did I mention yum? Yum yum.

  • Elizabeth says:

    Thanks for digging this one out of the archives, Mel! It was amazing! Didn’t have enough baking sheets to cook the rice and chicken in the oven at the same time, so I made the rice in a pot on the stovetop (similar to your cauliflower rice pilaf). It turned out juuuuuust fine.

  • Carol says:

    Hello Christie,

    I’m reading this 5 years after you posted! The link for your recipe is no longer valid, and I would love to get your recipe for Tikka Masala. Is it posted somewhere else?

  • Kate says:

    I made this tonight and it was fantastic. We will certainly make this again, especially the cauliflower rice. Thanks!

  • Joanna says:

    I have to say that I am super excited to try this entire dish! My husband and I love Indian food and I’m constantly experimenting with recipes to replicate it at home. I was wondering though, is the mint chutney to put on top of the chicken? I really want to make it but as silly as it sounds, I want to make sure I eat it correctly! haha

    • I”m glad you’re excited!

      Chutney is usually served at the table so it can be added to the food according to the diner’s taste preferences. It’s not a “required” part of the recipe, but it does add a nice contrast with the chicken and rice. I usually just dollop a little bit on top of both when I’m eating it. The mint is potent, so a little goes a long way.

  • Amy says:

    I was a little skeptical about the Cauliflower rice so I only made 1/2 a recipe. I’m making the other half tonight! It was delicious!

  • Carol says:

    I tried making just the chicken without the chutney or rice. It was delicious. I think I could eat it every day. Definitely my new favorite recipe.

  • EmilyS says:

    Made both the chicken and the rice and both were phenomenal! This will definitely be on my meal rotation. Note: I used Trader Joe’s cauliflower rice.

  • Andrew says:

    Would this work with whole milk yogurt instead of coconut milk?

  • Meggin says:

    Hey Mel,

    My husband is somewhat allergic to mint. Any replacement suggestions so I can keep the delicious Chutney?

    • You can use cilantro in place of mint, or use all parsley — it won’t taste exactly the same, but will add a delicious herb-y, grassy bite, which is really what you want to contrast with the curry. Enjoy!

  • Holly says:

    Everyone in my family (kids included) loved the Tandoori Chicken, and while my husband and boys weren’t brave enough to try the Curry Pineapple Rice, I have been LOVING the leftovers all week! Thanks for the great recipes!

  • Sarah says:

    Just got started on the Whole30 and Ohmygoodness this meal was ahmaazing! The ultimate comfort food!

    Thanks for the recipe! I am also super inspired by your move!