The chicken is marinated in yogurt and seasoned with the spice mixture tandoori masala. It is moderately piquant in India and Pakistan, but the heat is reduced in most Western nations. Cayenne pepper, red chili powder or kashmiri red chili powder is used to give it a fiery red hue in the original version. A higher amount of turmeric produces an orange color. In milder versions, both red and yellow food coloring could sometimes be used to achieve bright colors, however turmeric powder is both mild and brightly colored, as is paprika, a sweet red pepper powder. It is traditionally cooked at high temperatures in a tandoor (clay oven), but can also be prepared on a traditional barbecue grill.
The fame of tandoori chicken led to many derivatives, such as chicken tikka (and eventually the Indian dish popularized in Britain, chicken tikka masala), commonly found in menus in Indian restaurants all over the world.