November 16, 2011

Tandoori Chicken / Tandoori Murgh

The classic Tandoori chicken , originally from India, is marinated in a blend of yogurt and varied spices, then grilled or broiled in a Tandoor oven 
This is my all-time favorite chicken dish !! When I was little, one of my dad's friends was visiting us and took us to this restaurant in Delhi, known for its Tandoori Chicken preparation. After everyone was done dining, they noticed me still working feverishly on my chicken dish, totally oblivious of what was happening around me, gobbling up only the chicken and leaving everything else, including the Naan or other sides, untouched.  When I was done, he asked me if I needed one more order of the same, to which I replied in the affirmative and soon was working on my second plate. Everyone teases me about that incident to this day but that has not toned down my appetite for this delectable dish. 

Tale of Tandoori Chicken unleashed --

The story of its origin goes back to a Punjabi restauranteer, Kundan Lal Gujral, who ran a restaurant called Moti Mahal in Peshawar in the 1920s. Following the partition of the country in 1947, Gujral found himself one among many Hindu refugees fleeing to India to escape the rioting and upheaval. He moved his restaurant to a place in Delhi called Daryaganj. Using new recipes to keep his patrons interested, Gujral tried cooking chicken in tandoors which were until then only used to cook naan. Tandoors are bell-shaped ovens set into the earth and fired with wood or charcoal; they can reach temperatures of about 485°C (903.5°F). 
The tandoori chicken at Moti Mahal was so impressive that the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, made it regular at official banquets. Visiting dignitaries who enjoyed tandoori chicken included American Presidents Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy, Soviet leaders Nikolai Bulganin and Nikita Khrushchev, the King of Nepal, and the Shah of Iran. 
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.


1 - Whole Chicken
4 Tbsp - Yogurt
2 1/2 Tbsp - Fresh ginger-garlic paste
2 Tsp - Chilly powder
1/2 Tsp - Turmeric powder
1/2 Tsp - Ground cumin/Jeera
2 Tbsp - Coriander powder
1 1/2 Tsp - Dry Fenugreek (Methi) leaves/ Kasoori Methi
1/2 Tsp - Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 Tsp - Chat Masala
1/2 Tsp - Garam Masala
1/4 Tsp - Amchur (Dry mango powder)
1/8 Tsp - Asafetida
1/8 Tsp - Dry ginger powder
Salt to taste
Oil /Ghee (optional)
A few drops - Red food color (optional)

Tomato , Sliced
Lime wedges
Onions, Sliced
Cucumber, Sliced
Lettuce leaves


  • Skin the chicken and wash and clean it. Pat it dry with a paper towel.
  • Make a few slits on the breast, back, thighs, leg and back of the chicken.
  • In a large bowl mix all the ingredients mentioned in the marinade section and refrigerate for 8 hrs or overnight.
  • Preheat the oven to 375F
  • Arrange the chicken on an oven proof dish with the breast side up. Tie the legs together with a twine.Tuck the wing close to the body.
  • Bake the chicken at 375F for 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 hrs or until the internal temperature of the chicken is about 180F in the thickest part of the chicken. Make sure you check the chicken occasionally while baking.
  • Take the chicken out and smear some oil or ghee and cover it with a aluminium foil and allow it to rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing it. 
  • Drizzle fresh lime juice over the chicken.
  • Garnish with your favorite veggies and serve hot.

Notes and Tips

  • After taking the chicken out from the oven, allow it to rest for at least 15 minutes.This makes the chicken moist
  • Use fresh ginger garlic paste instead of the store bought version.
  • It is a good idea to invest in a food thermometer rather than serving a raw chicken. It has happened to me :( 
  • Plan ahead as marinating the chicken for at least 4 hours is important.
  • Make slits on the chicken before marinating it so that the flavors penetrate inside the meat.
  • Half way through the cooking process if you see that the wings of the chicken are getting burnt just cover the wing with aluminium foil and return it to the oven. 
  • You can use this same marinade on Turkey for Thanksgiving and give it a Spicy Indian touch!

Sending this recipe for a Blog event - Christmas Delicacy


  1. Wow..just drooling,Shema!!Very beautifully presented,lovely clicks!!I too love tandoori a lot!!
    Ongoing Event- Christmas Delicacy(15Nov-31Dec 2011)

  2. Thanks Shema !!! I prefer baking Chicken to Turkey on Thanksgiving. I was thinking these days about a Tandoori recipe for my "Thanksgiving Chicken". I will try this one out next Thursday :)

  3. Great story behind the tandoori!! yummy!

  4. Now I couldn't resist that. looks delectable.

  5. First time here,loved ur space !,
    enjoyed reading the post too, nobody can resist tandoori's a regular in my house.

  6. Amme ithu kandittu kothivarunnu..Adipoli.

  7. oooh this just looks amazing..i love tandoori chicken

  8. Shema - Very well done. I am particularly impressed with the photos...and ofcourse the cooking is without a doubt awesome...i have witnessed it first hand... keep up the good work :)

  9. Shema, forgot to write my comments after last Thanksgiving... The chicken I made last year turned out very good and was delicious!!! Will be making the same this year too :)


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Thanks a bunch,


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