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Origin of Tandoori Chicken - Indian Food Trivia


Origin of Tandoori Chicken - Indian Food Trivia
A man named Kundan Lal Gujral ran a restaurant called Moti Mahal in Peshawar before the partition of India. Trying out new recipes to keep his patrons interested, Gujral tried cooking chicken in tandoors (clay ovens) used by locals until then to cook naans (bread). The tandoors are bell-shaped ovens, set into the earth and fired with wood or charcoal reaching temperatures of about 900 degrees. Gujral was able to cook the tender chickens in these ovens making them succulent inside and crispy outside.

After the partition in 1947, Punjab was partitioned with the Eastern portion joining India and the Western, Pakistan. Peshawar became part of Pakistan and Gujral found himself one among many refugees fleeing the rioting and upheaval by moving to India. He moved his restaurant to Delhi in a place called Daryaganj.

The Tandoori chicken at Moti Mahal so impressed the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru that he made it a regular at official banquets. Visiting dignitaries that enjoyed Tandoori Chicken included American Presidents Richard Nixon and John 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 like Chicken Tikka Masala and Butter Chicken, commonly found in menus in Indian restaurants all over the world.