Tandoori masala is a mixture of spices specifically for use with a tandoor, or clay oven, in traditional north Indian, Pakistani and Afghan cooking. The specific spices vary somewhat from one region to another, but typically include garam masala, garlic, ginger, onion, cayenne pepper, and other spices and additives (e.g. lemon juice ...). The spices are often ground together with a pestle and mortar.
Tandoori masala is used extensively with dishes as tandoori chicken. In this dish, the chicken is covered with a mixture of plain yogurt and tandoori masala. The chicken is then roasted in the tandoor at very high heat. The chicken prepared in this fashion has a pink-colored exterior and a savory flavor.
Other chicken dishes, in addition to tandoori chicken, use this masala, such as tikka or butter chicken, most of them Punjabi dishes. Meat other than chicken can be used (for example, in tandoori fish) or replaced by paneer (paneer tikka).
If freshly prepared, the masala can be stored in airtight jars for up to two months. Now, though, packets or canisters of tandoori masala are also readily available at larger supermarkets and specialty Asian stores, with varying tastes depending on the brand. This convenience has led to many tandoori enthusiasts buying the masala rather than making it at home.
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