Classic Northern Indian Cuisine: Chicken Tandoori

Different cultures have signature dishes and cooking methods that define specific styles of cuisine. When one thinks of Indian food, tandoori chicken is likely to come to mind. While chicken itself doesn’t denote the flavors of India, its method of preparation does. The tandoor oven is an integral factor in authentic Northern Indian cuisine. At India Gate Restaurant, our traditional clay oven is used for many dishes, including our house tandoori chicken with spices.

Chicken tandoori is one of the most popular dishes of Northern India. Its name is derived from the type of oven, a tandoor, used in its preparation. The tandoor oven is a cylinder-shaped clay or metal oven heated by a live wood or charcoal fire. Food is speared through a rod and lowered into the oven for a convection cooking technique that roasts the meat 360 degrees. This method allows the juices and flavors to integrate into the food as it cooks. The temperature is high, reaching over 900 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s hot!

The tandoor oven is generally used for meat—in Northern Indian cuisine mainly chicken, lamb, or prawns. Tandoori chicken is one of the most popular dishes of India. The chicken is marinated in yogurt and seasoned with tandoori masala, a spice mixture that generally consists of garam masala, cayenne pepper, garlic, ginger, onion, and red chili powder. These spices are complimented by the tangy/sour taste of the yogurt, and these flavors are soaked into the chicken during tandoor cooking.

The first version of tandoori chicken can be traced back to Moti Mahal Restaurant in Dehli, India. Until the 1920s, tandoor ovens were strictly used to make naan bread. Moti Mahal had the first built-in tandoor oven of any restaurant in India, which popularized this method of cooking for meat. Thus, tandoori chicken was born and became a favorite on menus in Indian restaurants around the world.

Get a taste of traditional, mouthwatering tandoori chicken and Northern Indian food at India Gate Restaurant in Bellevue!

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