Tandoori chicken

This article is about the food. For the song, see Tandoori Chicken (song).
Tandoori chicken

Chicken tandoori in Mumbai, India
Course Main Course
Place of origin Punjab region[1]
Region or state South Asia, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Western world and countries with Indian and Pakistani diasporas[2]
Creator Kundan Lal Gujral of Moti Mahal[3][4]
Main ingredients Chicken, yogurt, honey, tandoori masala
Variations Tandoori paneer, Fish tandoor
Cookbook: Tandoori chicken  Media: Tandoori chicken

Tandoori chicken is a dish originating in the Indian subcontinent. It is widely popular in South Asia particularly India and Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Western world. It consists 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. 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.[5] It is traditionally cooked at high temperatures in a tandoor (clay oven), but can also be prepared on a traditional barbecue grill.

Tandoori chicken with oven

Marinated chicken is skewed on to the skewer and cooked in a heated clay oven known as the Tandoor. It is heated by charcoal or wood which also add to the smoky flavour.


Shahi murg tandoori
Tandoori chicken in Punjab, Pakistan

Tandoori chicken as a dish originated in the Punjab before the independence of India and Pakistan.[1][6] Although tandoor cooked chicken dates back to as early as the Mughal era, the dish is believed to be invented by Kundan Lal Gujral, a man who ran a restaurant called Moti Mahal in Peshawar. Gujral moved to Delhi, India after the Independence of India and Pakistan and the subsequent partition of the Punjab Province.[7][8][9][10]

In India, tandoori cooking was traditionally associated with the Punjab[11] and became popular in the mainstream after the 1947 partition when West Punjabis resettled in places such as Delhi.[12] In rural Punjab, it was common to have communal tandoors.[13] Some villages[14] still have a communal tandoor which was a common sight prior to 1947.[15]


Tandoori chicken is also used as a base chicken in many Indian curries.

Rather than mostly being eaten as in starters and appetizers, sometimes it is also eaten as a main course traditionally with naan (an Indian flatbread) and is used in numerous cream based curries such as butter chicken.[16] Of late, 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[17][18] when it was served to the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. There, tandoori chicken became a standard offering at official banquets.

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.

See also


  1. 1 2 Vir Sanghvi. "Rude Food: The Collected Food Writings of Vir Sanghv". google.co.uk.
  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. For instance, see the recipe in Madhur Jaffrey's Pakistani Cookery pp66-69
  6. "Metro Plus Delhi / Food : A plateful of grain". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 24 November 2008. Retrieved 7 May 2009.
  7. "What does it mean to be a Punjabi". Quartz.
  8. "London's Moti Mahal restaurant lauded for food hygiene". The Times of India.
  9. Ananya Jahanara Kabir. "Five exhilarating dance moves that celebrate the traumas of modernity". Scroll.in.
  10. "Tandoori Chicken - A Royal Punjabi Dish - DESIblitz". DESIblitz.
  11. The Rough Guide to Rajasthan, Delhi and Agra By Daniel Jacobs, Gavin Thomas
  12. Raichlen, Steven (10 May 2011). "A Tandoor Oven Brings India's Heat to the Backyard". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 June 2015.
  13. "Alop Ho Reha Punjabi Virsa Harkesh Singh Kehal".
  14. Pind Diyan Gallian PTC Channel - Bilga (Jalandhar) has a communal Tandoor also known as tadoor in Punjabi
  15. "Non-Existent Domain".
  16. Nancie McDermott, Pauline Cilmi Speers (1999) The Curry Book: Memorable Flavors and Irresistible Recipes from Around the World
  17. "Hindustan Times: Crystal Awards for Best Restaurants". Delhi Tourism. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  18. "Motimahal celebrates Kabab festival". Indian Express. 7 January 2011. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
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