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What is Tandoori and how to make Tandoori Chicken?

The word and its meaning has altered throughout generations, somewhat losing its original and correct description, so what really is tandoori?

Well, nowadays tandoori is a style of dish you will see in many Indian restaurants, just like our Tandoori BBQ Box. But the word tandoori is actually used to describe how the dish is made. All traditional tandoori dishes are not made following a specific recipe or list of ingredients, they’re in fact all cooked in a tandoor.

What is tandoor?

what is a tandoor

A tandoor is a hollowed out cylindrical contraption used to cook different foods, traditionally used in Asian cuisine. Typically made from clay, metal or bricks, a tandoor can be heated and rested above ground or set into the earth surrounded with fire or charcoal.

There are many types of tandoor, however, they all originated in Asia. They include the Afghan tandoor, Punjab tandoor, Azerbaijan tandir, Armenian tonir and the Turkmen tamdyr. Though each tandoor is from a different country and made from different materials, the concept is the same.

Despite the variety of materials and methods to heat the tandoor to the desired temperature, the cooking process is predominantly the same. The tandoor is a versatile piece of cooking equipment. It is traditionally used to bake flatbread, such as naan or roti, by sticking it to the inside walls of the drum, or to grill marinated meats by hanging skewers inside the tandoor.

One of the most popular tandoori dishes we see is, of course, tandoori chicken.

What is Tandoori Chicken?

tandoori chicken

Originating in the Punjab province of India, the classic Indian chicken dish is popular worldwide – a testament to the fine recipes of South Asia.

Traditionally roasted in a tandoor, the raw chicken has its skin removed before marinating in dahi (yoghurt) and tandoori masala, a blend of spices.

The chicken is seasoned and coloured with cayenne pepper, red chilli powder, and turmeric to get the traditional burning red colour.

Although an ancient recipe in India, it wasn’t until the 1960s that this dish started appearing on menus in America. Tandoori chicken is a versatile dish, acting as either a starter, an appetiser, or a main course.

Is Tandoori Chicken Healthy?

healthy tandoori chickenDespite its unhealthy reputation in some corners of the world, the opposite is true.

The yoghurt that the chicken is marinated in not only gives the dish its signature smoky flavour but also contains healthy nutrients such as zinc, potassium, and vitamin B12.

In addition, as the skin is trimmed off the chicken before cooking and cooked at such a high heat, it becomes a low-fat dish. The selenium in the chicken also helps promote a healthy metabolism.

There is also an argument that the chicken’s B3, B5, and B6 vitamins promote brain health, but the research into this is still ongoing.

A once fatty, carb-laden dish is actually pretty healthy, then!

How to Make Tandoori Chicken

Making tandoori chicken is surprisingly straightforward, and we’ve put together a step-by-step guide:

Marinade

  1. Add the dahi or Greek yoghurt to a large bowl.
  2. Throw in tandoori masala spices.
  3. Add any additional spices you’d like, such as garam masala, coriander, pepper, turmeric, chilli powder, or salt. You can also add ginger garlic paste, too.
  4. Squeeze in some lemon juice.
  5. Pour over oil.
  6. Mix well and taste the marinade, adding salt or chilli powder to taste. The marinade should be thick to avoid sticking to the pan, but be aware that a lot of moisture may be released
  7. Ensure the chicken has no excess water, wiping dry if needs be.
  8. Score the chicken with deep gashes – this is to ensure the marinade reaches deep inside the chicken. The marinade will also tenderise the meat.
  9. Cover the bowl and store it in the fridge for at least 6 hours.

Cooking

Of course, for a proper tandoori chicken, you must use a tandoor. If you have a traditional tandoor, be sure to start up the oven around one hour before cooking. You can get ultra-modern tandoor’s these days so follow the cooking instructions for yours.

Using a temperature gauge to check the heat levels, get the temperature between 420C –450C.

Skewer similar sized pieces of chicken and place in the Tandoor. Cook for 10 minutes, ensuring the chicken is piping hot and thoroughly cooked all the way through before enjoying.

We wouldn’t judge you for not having a huge traditionally clay tandoor oven to hand, so you can grill the chicken using a barbeque. Though it technically wouldn’t be tandoori chicken, it’ll still be damn tasty.

Tandoori BBQ Box

So, next time you see a tandoori dish on a menu you’ll know that its name has derived from the method used to cook the meal – in a tandoor.

Craving your own tandoori feast but not interested in digging a hole and burying a tandoor in your back garden? We wouldn’t blame you. You can enjoy the delicious and unmistakable flavours of our Tandoori BBQ Box, delivered to your door.

Aktar Islam

About Aktar Islam

Multiple award-winning English Michelin starred chef, Brummie, all round nice guy... most of the time!

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