Tandoori chicken

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Tandoori chicken
Tandoori chicken laccha piyaz1 (36886283595).jpg
Chicken tandoori in Mumbai, India
Alternative namesNone[1][2][3][4]
CourseAppetizer or Main course
Place of originPunjab, British India[5][6][7]
Region or stateIndian subcontinent
Created byKundan Lal Gujral, Kundan Lal Jaggi[8][9][10]
Main ingredientsChicken, dahi (yogurt), honey, tandoori masala
VariationsTandoori paneer, Fish tandoori

Tandoori chicken is a chicken dish prepared by roasting chicken marinated in yogurt and spices in a tandoor, a cylindrical clay oven. The dish originated from the Indian subcontinent and is popular in many other parts of the world.


Dishes similar to tandoori chicken may have existed during the Harappan civilization. According to eminent archeologist and vice-chancellor of Deccan College Professor Vasant Shinde, the earliest evidence for a dish similar to tandoori chicken can be found in the Harappan civilization and dates back to 3000 BC. His team has found ancient ovens at Harappan sites which are similar to the tandoors that are used in the state of Punjab. Physical remains of chicken bones with char marks have also been unearthed.[11][12][13] Harappan houses had keyhole ovens with central pillars which was used for roasting meats and baking breads.[14] Sushruta Samhita records meat being cooked in an oven (kandu) after marinating it in spices like black mustard (rai) powder and fragrant spices.[15] According to Ahmed (2014), Harappan oven structures may have operated in a similar manner to the modern tandoors of the Punjab.[16]

Tandoori chicken as a dish originated in the Punjab before the independence of partition of India.[17][18] In the late 1940s, tandoori chicken was popularised at Moti Mahal in the locality of Daryaganj[19][20] in New Delhi by Kundan Lal Jaggi and Kundan Lal Gujral, who were Punjabi Hindus[8][21][22][23][24] as well as the founders of the Moti Mahal restaurant.[1][2][3][4][23] Mokha Singh had founded the restaurant in the Peshawar area of British India, which is now a part of neighbouring Pakistan.[5][6][7]

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.[25] 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";[26] a similar recipe was featured in the same newspaper in 1964.[27]


Tandoori chicken being prepared in a tandoor oven.

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.[28]

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).[29]


Tandoori chicken can be eaten as a starter or appetizer, or as a main course, often served with naan flatbread.[30] It is also used as the base of numerous cream-based curries, such as butter chicken.[31] 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-independence India by Moti Mahal, Daryaganj in Delhi[32][33] when it was served to the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru.[34] There, tandoori chicken became a standard offering at official banquets.[34]


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.[35] Nearly all derivatives of tandoori chicken begin with a yogurt and citrus-based marinade.[36][37]

See also


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


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Who invented the dal makhani?". NDTV Food. IANS. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Moti Mahal offers complete Tandoori cuisine". Daily Excelsior. August 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "10 Best Punjabi Recipes". NDTV. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "What does it mean to be a Punjabi". Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Tandoori Chicken Recipe and History". Indiamarks. 14 June 2012. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Origin of Tandoori Chicken". Indianfoodsguide. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Tandoori Chicken – A Royal Punjabi Dish – DESIblitz". DESIblitz. 22 April 2009.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Punjab on a platter". 31 March 2018.
  9. Gujral, Monish (7 March 2013). On the Butter Chicken Trail: A Moti Mahal Cookbook (1.0 ed.). Delhi, India: Penguin India. ISBN 9780143419860.
  10. 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.
  11. Lawler, Andrew (30 January 2013). "The Mystery of Curry".
  12. Ritu, Grishm. "Virasat" (PDF).
  13. Bhuyan, Avantika (9 April 2017). "How archaeologists across the country are unearthing the food of ancestors to shed light on the evolution of eating". The Economic Times.
  14. "7 Kenoyer 2015 Indus Civilization.pdf: ANTHRO100: General Anthropology (002)". canvas.wisc.edu. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
  15. "Full text of "Indian Food Tradition A Historical Companion Achaya K. T."". archive.org. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  16. Ahmed, Mukhtar (2014). Ancient Pakistan – An Archaeological History. Vol. IV. Foursome Group. pp. 211–. ISBN 978-1-4960-8208-4.
  17. Sanghvi, Vir (22 April 2004). Rude Food: The Collected Food Writings of Vir Sanghvi. Penguin Books India. ISBN 9780143031390 – via Google Books.
  18. "Metro Plus Delhi / Food: A plateful of grain". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 24 November 2008. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 7 May 2009.
  19. "Punjab on a platter". Hindustan Times. 31 March 2018.
  20. "The History of Tandoori Chicken: Infographics". The Times of India.
  21. "'Vadiya Khao': Refugees taught Delhi how to eat out in style". Hindustan Times. 14 August 2017.
  22. "ICC 2017 by IFCA – Showcasing the culinary spirit of IndiaKundan". Hospitality Biz India. 11 October 2017.
  23. 23.0 23.1 "Partition brought Moti Mahal, a landmark in India's culinary history, to central Delhi". Sunday Guardian.
  24. Laura Siciliano-Rosen (13 January 2014). "Delhi Food and Travel Guide: The inside scoop on the best North Indian foods".
  25. Matt Weinstock, "Strange Beast Puts the Bite on Robert" Los Angeles Times (15 March 1962): A6.
  26. "East Indian Cuisine Provides Inspiration for Hostesses" Los Angeles Times (14 March 1963): D6.
  27. Marian Manners, "A Flock of Chicken Dishes From Around World" Los Angeles Times (17 September 1964): D1.
  28. der Haroutunian, A. (2007). Yogurt Cookbook. Armenian Research Center collection. Grub Street. p. 184. ISBN 978-1-906502-61-4.
  29. Singh, Dharamjit (1970). Indian Cookery. London: Penguin Handbooks. pp. 119–124.
  30. Brown, P. (1998). Anglo-Indian Food and Customs. Penguin Books. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-14-027137-9.
  31. 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.
  32. "Hindustan Times: Crystal Awards for Best Restaurants". Delhi Tourism. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  33. "Motimahal celebrates Kabab festival". Indian Express. 7 January 2011. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  34. 34.0 34.1 Gujral, M. (2004). Moti Mahal's Tandoori Trail. Roli Books Private Limited. p. pt12. ISBN 978-93-5194-023-4.
  35. Gisslen, Wayne; Griffin, Mary Ellen; Bleu, Le Cordon (2006). Professional Cooking for Canadian Chefs. p. 381. ISBN 0471663778. Retrieved 16 March 2017.
  36. "The Food Lab: How To Make Awesome Tandoori-Style Grilled Chicken At Home". Serious Eats. Retrieved 1 March 2018.
  37. "Authentic Tandoori Chicken". Perdue.com. Retrieved 1 March 2018.

External links