The History of Tandoori Chicken And 5 Tips To Perfect It

Tandoori Chicken, a culinary gem rooted in ancient India, holds immense significance in Indian cuisine. Marinated in a blend of yoghurt and aromatic spices, the chicken is cooked to perfection in a traditional clay oven called a tandoor. Its iconic bright red appearance and smoky flavour have captivated palates worldwide. Ancient India boasts a diverse culinary heritage rooted in age-old traditions and incorporating a myriad of spices and flavours. One prominent method was cooking meat in clay ovens, known as tandoors. These cylindrical ovens, heated with wood or charcoal, provided an ideal environment for preparing succulent meats. The high heat and unique design imparted a smoky essence, while the clay's natural insulation ensured even cooking.

The origin of the Tandoori Chicken has sparked lively debates among historians, but it is widely believed that Kundan Lal Gujral played a significant role in its development. It is said that Kundan introduced tandoori chicken to Peshawar before the partition in 1947. The dish gained immense popularity, leading to a demand that necessitated an improvised tandoor.

However, due to the partition, Kundan was forced to flee to Delhi, where he established Moti Mahal, a renowned restaurant. While Kundan is credited with perfecting the art of cooking tender and juicy Tandoori Chicken, it is acknowledged that the practice of cooking meat in tandoors dates back to the Mughal era. Regardless of its exact origin, Tandoori Chicken has become a beloved global sensation enjoyed by people worldwide.

Tandoori Chicken's regal connections can be traced back to the Mughal dynasty, where it found favour among Indian royalty and nobility. The Mughal emperors, known for their love of art, culture, and fine cuisine, were great patrons of this culinary marvel. Tandoori Chicken, with its succulent texture and rich flavours, became a staple at lavish banquets and grand feasts hosted by the Mughal rulers.

The dish's unique cooking method and exquisite taste made it a symbol of opulence and sophistication. It graced the tables during celebrations, royal gatherings, and special occasions, further enhancing its prestige. Tandoori Chicken's association with the elite class not only solidified its place in Indian culinary heritage but also contributed to its eventual popularity as it made its way beyond palace walls and into the hearts of people worldwide.

Popularity and Globalisation

Tandoori Chicken's popularity worldwide can be attributed to several key factors. Firstly, its unique blend of flavours, tender texture, and enticing smokiness appeal to diverse palates. Additionally, the globalisation of cuisines and increased international travel allowed people from different cultures to experience and appreciate this Indian delicacy. Immigration played a pivotal role as Indian communities settled in various countries, establishing restaurants that served authentic dishes, including Tandoori Chicken. As these restaurants gained popularity, so did the dish, spreading its fame across borders. Moreover, the rise of food media and social platforms further fuelled its global appeal, making Tandoori Chicken a beloved icon of Indian cuisine that transcends cultural barriers.

5 Tips To Make The Perfect Tandoori Chicken 

Sure! Here are five tips to make the perfect Tandoori Chicken:

1. Quality of Chicken: Start with good-quality chicken pieces, preferably skinless and bone-in, for maximum flavour and tenderness. Choose fresh chicken from a reliable source to ensure the best results.

2. Marination: The key to authentic Tandoori Chicken lies in the marinade. Create a mixture of thick yoghurt, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, and a blend of Tandoori spices like cumin, coriander, paprika, garam masala, turmeric, and Kashmiri red chilli powder for that vibrant red colour. Allow the chicken to marinate for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight, to infuse the flavours.

3. Tandoor or High-Heat Cooking: While a traditional clay tandoor would be ideal, not everyone has access to one. You can achieve excellent results on a grill or in an oven. Preheat your grill or oven to the highest temperature and cook the chicken at high heat to replicate the tandoor's smoky flavour and charred exterior.

4. Use Skewers: To imitate the tandoor cooking style, use metal skewers to thread the marinated chicken pieces. This ensures even cooking and allows for that signature charred look.

5. Basting with Ghee or Oil: During cooking, occasionally baste the chicken with melted ghee or oil to keep it moist and add an extra layer of flavour.

Recipe For Tandoori Chicken

                                       Video Credits: Chef Ranveer Brar/YouTube


1 kg chicken pieces (skinless and bone-in, like drumsticks or thighs)

1 cup plain yoghurt (Greek yoghurt works well too)

3 tablespoons of vegetable oil

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

2 tablespoons Tandoori masala spice mix (store-bought or homemade)

1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste

1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder (for colour, adjust to your spice preference)

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon of coriander powder

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves for garnish

Lemon wedges and onion rings for serving


Clean and pat dry the chicken pieces. Make shallow cuts in the meat with a sharp knife to help the marinade penetrate better. 

In a large bowl, combine the yoghurt, vegetable oil, lemon juice, ginger-garlic paste, Tandoori masala, Kashmiri red chilli powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, garam masala, and salt. Mix everything well to form a smooth marinade. 

Add the chicken pieces to the marinade and coat them thoroughly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight, to allow the flavours to meld. 

Preheat your oven to 220°C (425°F) or prepare a grill for medium-high heat. 

If using an oven, line a baking tray with aluminium foil and place a wire rack on top. Grease the rack to prevent sticking. 

If using a grill, make sure it's well-preheated and oiled to prevent sticking. 

Take the marinated chicken out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. 

Thread the chicken pieces onto metal skewers, shaking off any excess marinade. 

Place the skewers on the wire rack (oven) or directly on the grill. Cook the chicken for about 20–25 minutes, turning occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and has a charred appearance. 

Once cooked, remove the chicken from the skewers and arrange it on a serving platter. 

Garnish with chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves.

Serve the Tandoori Chicken hot with lemon wedges and onion rings on the side.

Enjoy the delicious and flavorful Tandoori Chicken as a delightful main course or as part of a festive meal!