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Tandoori chicken is a popular South Asian (also very popular in UK) dish consisting of roasted chicken prepared with yogurt and spices. The name comes from the type of cylindrical clay oven, a tandoor, in which the dish is traditionally prepared.
The chicken is marinated in yogurt and seasoned with the spice mixture tandoori masala. It is moderately piquant in Bangladesh, Pakistan and India, 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.
Tandoori Chicken is a dish of Mughlai cuisine. It was popular among the noble families and Nawab families. This dish became popular with the ordinary Muslims of South Asia as the Mughal Empire declined.
The tandoori chicken at Moti Mahal so impressed the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, that he made it a regular at official banquets. Visiting dignitaries who enjoyed tandoori chicken included American Presidents Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy, Soviet leaders Nikolai Bulganin and Nikita Khrushchev, the King of Nepal, and the Shah of Iran.
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.
It is popular outside of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and in other parts of South Asia, where it is eaten as a starter before a meal.
See also