Tandoori chicken

Tandoori chicken
Chicken tandoori in Punjab, India
Course Appetizer or Main Course
Place of origin British India[1][2][3][4]
Region or state Punjab region[5][6][7][8]
Created by Kundan Lal Jaggi, Kundan Lal Gujral, Thakur Dass[9][10][11]
Main ingredients Chicken, dahi (yogurt), honey, tandoori masala
Variations Tandoori paneer, Fish tandoori
Cookbook: Tandoori chicken  Media: Tandoori chicken

Tandoori chicken is chicken dish prepared by roasting chicken marinated in yoghurt and spices in a tandoor, a cylindrical clay oven. It is a popular dish originating from the Indian subcontinent, and has become sought-after in other parts of the world.


According to eminent archeologist and vice-chancellor of Deccan College Professor Vasant Shinde, the earliest evidence for Tandoori Chicken can be found in Harappan civilization and dates back to 3000 BCE. His team has not only found 'tandoors' at Kalibangan,[12] that resemble modern day 'tandoors', but also physical remains of chicken bones with char marks. He goes on to suggest that "Tandoori chicken was a Harappan delicacy".[13][14][15]

In recent times, Tandoori chicken was popularised at Moti Mahal in Peshawar Pakistan by Kundan Lal Jaggi, Thakur Dass, and Kundan Lal Gujral, who are all Punjabi Hindus[9][16][17][18][19] as well as the founders of the Moti Mahal restaurant.[1][2][3][4][18] Mokha Singh had founded the restaurant in the Peshawar area of British India, which is now Pakistan.[5][6][7][8]

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.[20] 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";[21] a similar recipe was featured in the same newspaper in 1964.[22]


The raw chicken is marinated in a mixture of dahi (yogurt) and tandoori masala, a spice blend. It is seasoned and colored with cayenne pepper, red chili powder, or Kashmiri red chili powder as well as turmeric or food coloring.[lower-alpha 1] The skin is generally removed before the chicken is marinated and roasted.

The marinated chicken is placed on skewers and cooked at high temperatures in a tandoor oven, which 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.[23]

There is 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).[24]


Tandoori chicken can be eaten as a starter or appetizer, or as a main course, often served with naan flatbread.[25] It is also used as the base of numerous cream-based curries such as butter chicken.[26] Local 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, Daryaganj in Delhi[27][28] when it was served to the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru.[29] There, tandoori chicken became a standard offering at official banquets.[29]


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.[30] Nearly all derivatives of tandoori chicken begin with a yogurt and citrus-based marinade. [31] [32]

See also


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


  1. 1 2 "Who invented the dal makhani?". NDTV Food. IANS. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
  2. 1 2 "Moti Mahal offers complete Tandoori cuisine". Daily Excelsior. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  3. 1 2 "10 Best Punjabi Recipes". NDTV. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  4. 1 2 "What does it mean to be a Punjabi". Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  5. 1 2 "About Us How it all began... Invention of Tandoori Cuisine". Moti Mahal Delux. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  6. 1 2 "Tandoori Chicken Recipe and History". Indiamarks. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  7. 1 2 "Origin of Tandoori Chicken". Indianfoodsguide. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  8. 1 2 "Tandoori Chicken – A Royal Punjabi Dish – DESIblitz". DESIblitz.
  9. 1 2 "Punjab on a platter". 31 March 2018.
  10. Gujral, Monish (7 March 2013). On the Butter Chicken Trail: A Moti Mahal Cookbook (1.0 ed.). Delhi, India: Penguin India. ISBN 9780143419860.
  11. 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.
  12. Sanghvi, Vir (2004). Rude Food: The Collected Food Writings of Vir Sanghvi. Penguin Books India. ISBN 9780143031390.
  13. Lawler, Andrew (2013-01-30). "The Mystery of Curry".
  14. Ritu, Grishm. "Virasat" (PDF).
  15. Bhuyan, Avantika (2017-04-09). "How archaeologists across the country are unearthing the food of ancestors to shed light on the evolution of eating".
  16. "'Vadiya Khao': Refugees taught Delhi how to eat out in style". 14 August 2017.
  17. "ICC 2017 by IFCA – Showcasing the culinary spirit of IndiaKundan". Hospitality Biz India. October 11, 2017.
  18. 1 2 "Partition brought Moti Mahal, a landmark in India's culinary history, to central Delhi". www.sunday-guardian.com.
  19. Laura Siciliano-Rosen. "Delhi Food and Travel Guide: The inside scoop on the best North Indian foods".
  20. Matt Weinstock, "Strange Beast Puts the Bite on Robert" Los Angeles Times (15 March 1962): A6.
  21. "East Indian Cuisine Provides Inspiration for Hostesses" Los Angeles Times (14 March 1963): D6.
  22. Marian Manners, "A Flock of Chicken Dishes From Around World" Los Angeles Times (17 September 1964): D1.
  23. der Haroutunian, A. (2007). Yogurt Cookbook. Armenian Research Center collection. Grub Street. p. 184. ISBN 978-1-906502-61-4.
  24. Singh, Dharamjit (1970). Indian Cookery. London: Penguin Handbooks. pp. 119–124.
  25. Brown, P. (1998). Anglo-Indian Food and Customs. Penguin Books. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-14-027137-9.
  26. 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.
  27. "Hindustan Times: Crystal Awards for Best Restaurants". Delhi Tourism. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  28. "Motimahal celebrates Kabab festival". Indian Express. 7 January 2011. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  29. 1 2 Gujral, M. (2004). Moti Mahal's Tandoori Trail. Roli Books Private Limited. p. pt12. ISBN 978-93-5194-023-4.
  30. Professional Cooking for Canadian Chefs. p. 381. ISBN 0471663778. Retrieved 16 March 2017.
  31. "The Food Lab: How To Make Awesome Tandoori-Style Grilled Chicken At Home". Serious Eats. Retrieved 1 March 2018.
  32. "Authentic Tandoori Chicken". Perdue.com. Retrieved 1 March 2018.
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