Tandoori chicken

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Tandoori chicken
Chicken tandoori in Punjab, India
Course Main Course
Place of origin Peshawar, Pakistan[1]
Region or state Indian Subcontinent[2]
Created by Kundan Lal Gujral of Moti Mahal[3][4]
Main ingredients Chicken, yogurt, honey, tandoori masala
Variations Tandoori paneer, Fish tandoori
Cookbook: Tandoori chicken  Media: Tandoori chicken
Tandoori chicken in a tandoor oven

Tandoori chicken is a yoghurt and spice marinated chicken cooked in a tandoor, a cylindrical clay oven. It is a popular dish originating from the Indian subcontinent, particularly from Peshawar, Pakistan. The tandoor oven originates from the northwest frontier. It is popular in Pakistan, India, and has become increasingly popular in other parts of the world.


The raw chicken is marinated in a mixture of yogurt and the spice tandoori masala. Cayenne pepper, red chili powder or Kashmiri red chili powder is used to give it a fiery red hue. A higher amount of turmeric produces an orange color. In milder versions, both red and yellow food coloring are sometimes used to achieve bright colors, but turmeric powder is both mild and brightly colored, as is paprika, a sweet red pepper powder.[a]

The marinated chicken is placed on skewers and cooked at high temperatures in a heated clay oven known as the tandoor. It is heated with charcoal or wood which adds to the smoky flavour. The dish can also be cooked in a standard oven, using a spit or rotisserie, or over hot charcoal.[5]

Indian cookery writer Dharamjit Singh provides a range of tandoori recipes for whole grilled chicken, some of which are cooked in a tandoor and others over charcoal. These include Chirga (Roasted whole chicken); Tandoori Murgh (Roast whole chicken with almonds); Murgh Kabab Seekhi (Whole stuffed chicken on the spit); Kookarh Tandoori (Steamed chicken on spit); Tandoori Murgh Massaledarh (Whole spiced chicken on spit); and Murghi Bhogar (Chicken in the Bhogar style).[6]


Tandoori chicken originated at the Moti Mahal Delux restaurant.[7][8][9][10] Kundan Lal Gujral, a Punjabi,[11] is credited with invention of the dish. Gujral founded the restaurant in the Peshawar area of Pakistan.[12] It was in this restaurant that Gujral invented Tandoori chicken, along with other dishes like Butter Chicken.[13][14]

In the United States, tandoori chicken began appearing on menus by the 1960s. Jacqueline Kennedy was reported to have eaten "chicken tandoori" on a flight from Rome to Bombay in 1962.[15] A recipe for tandoori chicken was printed in the Los Angeles Times in 1963, for "the hostess in search of a fresh idea for a party dinner";[16] a similar recipe was featured in the same newspaper in 1964, along with other chicken dishes from world cuisines.[17]


Tandoori chicken can be eaten as a starter or appetizer, and as a main course, the latter with naan (an Indian flatbread).[18] It is also used as a base chicken in numerous cream-based curries such as butter chicken.[19] Localized varieties of tandoori chicken prepared from the rooyi posto in Bengal have appeared in local eateries, particularly those between Kolaghat and Kolkata. Tandoori chicken was popularized in post-independent India by Moti Mahal Delux in Delhi[20][21] when it was served to the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru.[22] There, tandoori chicken became a standard offering at official banquets.[22]


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.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ For instance, see the recipe in Madhur Jaffrey's Cookery, pp. 66-69


  1. ^ Stephens, Leslie. "The Unlikely History of Tandoori Chicken". Food52. Retrieved 10 June 2017. 
  2. ^ "Malaysian Tandoori Chicken". CNN iReport. 
  3. ^ Gujral, Monish (7 March 2013). On the Butter Chicken Trail: A Moti Mahal Cookbook (1.0 ed.). Delhi, India: Penguin India. ISBN 9780143419860. 
  4. ^ Hosking, Richard (8 August 2006). Authenticity in the kitchen: proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on food and cookery 2005 (1 ed.). Blackawton: Prospect Books. p. 393. ISBN 9781903018477. 
  5. ^ der Haroutunian, A. (2007). Yogurt Cookbook. Armenian Research Center collection. Grub Street. p. 184. ISBN 978-1-906502-61-4. 
  6. ^ Singh, Dharamjit (1970). Indian Cookery. London: Penguin Handbooks. pp. 119–124. 
  7. ^ "Who invented the dal makhani?". NDTV Food. IANS. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  8. ^ "Moti Mahal offers complete Tandoori cuisine". Daily Excelsior. Retrieved 2 August 2013. 
  9. ^ "10 Best Punjabi Recipes". NDTV. Retrieved 13 March 2017. 
  10. ^ "What does it mean to be a Punjabi". Retrieved 13 March 2017. 
  11. ^ Laura Siciliano-Rosen. "Delhi Food and Travel Guide: The inside scoop on the best North Indian foods". 
  12. ^ "Tandoori Chicken - A Royal Punjabi Dish - DESIblitz". DESIblitz. 
  13. ^ "Dish". The Hindu. 17 May 2008. Retrieved 13 March 2017. 
  14. ^ Patel, Perzen (4 January 2015). "Eight Kilometres Of Eating In Purani Dilli". The Huffington Post. 
  15. ^ Matt Weinstock, "Strange Beast Puts the Bite on Robert" Los Angeles Times (15 March 1962): A6.
  16. ^ "East Indian Cuisine Provides Inspiration for Hostesses" Los Angeles Times (14 March 1963): D6.
  17. ^ Marian Manners, "A Flock of Chicken Dishes From Around World" Los Angeles Times (17 September 1964): D1.
  18. ^ Brown, P. (1998). Anglo-Indian Food and Customs. Penguin Books. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-14-027137-9. 
  19. ^ McDermott, N. (1999). The Curry Book: Memorable Flavors and Irresistible Recipes from Around the World. Houghton Mifflin. p. 100. ISBN 978-0-618-00202-3. 
  20. ^ "Hindustan Times: Crystal Awards for Best Restaurants". Delhi Tourism. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  21. ^ "Motimahal celebrates Kabab festival". Indian Express. 7 January 2011. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  22. ^ a b Gujral, M. (2004). Moti Mahal's Tandoori Trail. Roli Books Private Limited. p. pt12. ISBN 978-93-5194-023-4. 
  23. ^ Professional Cooking for Canadian Chefs. p. 381. ISBN 0471663778. Retrieved 16 March 2017. 

External links[edit]