Tandoori chicken


Tandoori chicken (in a tawa)

This lockdown was indeed an experimenting phase for me. Being a student of 3rd year, cooking was never my forte (though eating was), as I lacked time, skill and ideas. Moreover my Ma and Didun were never keen on letting me into the kitchen because I was a messy and curious kid (a dangerous combination indeed) and more often than not, would create chaos in the kitchen and run away. This lockdown for nine months gave me a long span of time to spend with my family and also try my hand at a few of my favourite dishes with the help of my Ma.

Though I am a fan of homemade dishes, there are a few restaurant dishes which I love, the first being on my list Tandoori  Chicken. Now there was a small problem, the restaurants were closed! All thanks to COVID 19. Being from middle class family, Tandoor was a luxury and hence we could only rely on the gas stove for making this appetizer. Being an extensively tenacious kid, I, at last persuaded my Ma to make it at home.

Now you would think of me as a weird person, but I personally don’t like chicken legs. Yeah yeah, don’t yell at me, we used every bit of the chicken, with bones to create this dish, and trust me the taste was not compromised to even one percent.

Tandoori chicken gets its name from the bell-shaped “Tandoor” or clay oven which is also used to make naan, or Indian flatbread. Traditionally kinless legs and thighs are marinated in a tenderizing mixture of yogurt, lemon juice, and spices and the meat is slashed to the bone in several places helping the marinade penetrate and the chicken cook more quickly. The chicken gets its characteristic red hue from either lots of fiery chilli or the addition of red food dye. We’re not that big on food dyes here, so we’ve skipped it, but if you must have your chicken bright red, feel free to add a bit of red food dye to the marinade.

Tradition and history:


 Although a few archaeologists trace down the history of Tandoor to the Harappan civilization, the dish of Tandoori chicken originated from the state of Punjab. According to Sangvi, Tandoori chicken came into existence as an easy staple prepared by the Punjabi refugees. They came to Delhi after the partition of 1947 and opens Dhabas to sell inexpensive food to their community which included basic Daal, Roti and of course Tandoori chicken. The reason behind making this chicken dish in most of the Dhabas ait that time was the minimalistic approach of adding spices to the chicken and cooking in bulk in the clay oven.

The Tandoori chicken that is popular today is said to be innovated my Kundanlal Gujral. After partition he settled in Daryaganj in Delhi and tried to make his living with the culinary skills he learnt from Peshawar. This iconic Moti Mahal came into existence which gradually developed to become a renowned restaurant.

Recipe for Tandoori chicken


Chicken – 1kg, skinless (cut into pieces of your choice)

For the marinade-

Yoghurt – 200g

Onion – 2 (medium sizes, made into a paste)

Ginger garlic paste – 2 tablespoon

Red chilli powder – 1 tablespoon (according to your spice level)

Kashmiri red chilli powder – 1 tablespoon

Garam masala powder – 1 tablespoon

Salt – according to your taste

Sugar – according to your taste

Turmeric powder – a pinch

Mustard oil – 2 tablespoon

Method –

1.      Wash the chicken thoroughly and slice through it with a knife to let the masalas into it.

2.      Make a fine paste out of the items of the marinade.

3.      Apply it onto the chicken pieces. Massage gently.

4.      Transfer the chicken in an airtight container and refrigerate it for atleast four to six hours. It is best if you marinate it overnight.

5.      Before cooking, bring the chicken out and let it warm up to normal temperature.

6.      Heat a Tawa and brush some mustard oil on it.

7.      Place the chicken pieces (do not forget the leftover marinade in the container) and cook on high flame for around 30mins until the spices stick onto the chicken. Turn over the chicken at intervals to make sure each side turn reddish brown but does not burn.

8.      Cover and cook on low flame for about 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked.

9.      Serve hot with dips of your choice or pudina and mint chutney

Pro tips-

1.      In case you have got chicken with skin on, remove the skin but do not discard it. Fry it until crisp. Better than bacon!

2.      If you want that extra char on your Tandoori chicken, char it directly on your flame.

3.      For that extra smoky flavour, you can always put some charcoal in a small bowl and add hot ghee into it. Put the smoking charcoal on the Tawa and cover with the lid while slow cooking for that extra oomph factor.

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