India is a country rich in history and culture. From the days of the East India Company and British rule, to hunger strikes, peaceful protests and Mahatma Gandhi, India has remained an influential country in the midst of rapid modernization. Among the list of prominent Indian influences are the signature dishes and flavors that make Indian cuisine so distinct and enjoyable.
Tandoori chicken is a popular Indian dish that consists of chicken, a yogurt marinade, and a tandoori masala (garam masala, onion, garlic, cayenne pepper, and ginger) seasoning. Tandoori chicken has reached many parts of the world, each made with a diverse array of spices.
Kundan Lal Gujral, a once restaurant owner in Pakistan, is responsible for the creation of this now signature Indian fare. In the late 1940s, the developing British empire in India had been put to a stop by the Partition of India, which resulted in violent territorial struggle with neighboring Pakistan. In order to escape the less than peaceful goings on in Pakistan, Gujral made his way to India. Once he arrived in India, he recreated his Pakistani restaurant with new recipes and dishes in order to maintain customers. It was then that Gujral decided to cook a well-seasoned, smaller sized chicken at high temperatures in a tandoor (a clay oven traditionally used for baking bread). The Prime Minister of India, impressed by the chicken, had it served at banquets in which various world leaders, (i.e. Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy) attended. The taste for tandoori chicken spread to the western world, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Tandoori chicken, or what is more commonly known as chicken tikka, is a common find on a menu in any Indian restaurant. With its pungent spices, tandoori chicken is a perfect taste of the unique cuisine that India has to offer.
Here are a few recipes for traditional and modern tandoori chicken dishes:
Indian Tandoori Chicken (AllRecipes.com)
Grilled Tandoori Chicken (FoodandWine.com)
Fast Tandoori Chicken (NYTimes.com)
– Gabrielle Castillo