Bhangra, wheat fields and turban- rang a bell? Unsurprisingly, one word that comes to our mind on these references is Punjab- The land of five rivers. While these are the visual references that represent this beautiful land, there is another culinary delight that is a masterpiece from this land – Tandoori Chicken. Our foray into the origin of Tandoori Chicken landed in Punjab of the post partition era.
Who invented Tandoori Chicken?
It is believed that a Punjabi Hindu, Kundan Lal Gujral is the man behind the origin of Tandoori Chicken. He was working on Moti Mahal, originally founded by Mokha Singh in the Peshawar area of United India. Kundan Lal, Kundan Lal Jaggi and Thakur Dass were working for him.
During partition, he moved to India. But upon reaching New Delhi, India, he put up the Moti Mahal Restaurant in New Delhi along with Kundan Lal Jaggi and Thakur Dass. Unknown to himself he was creating history.
His Tandoori chicken is known for its orange colour exterior which makes it all the more desirable.
Now we have several varieties of Tandoori chicken boneless being the modern version, but the spices mostly remain the same. The peculiar mix of cayenne pepper, ginger, garlic and garam masala is the identity.
Where does Tandoori come from?
The historians and archeologists believe that the origin of Tandoori Chicken took place during the Harappa Civilization because the excavation revealed the remains of the clay oven named Tandoor used for cooking the chicken. Hence the origin of Tandoori chicken can be dated back to Harappa Civilization while it was reintroduced by the Punjabi from Pakistan. Who would have imagined while devouring the Tandoori chicken with green chutney from your favourite eatery that our forefathers would have had as much luck as to have what we are having now.
Another proof that reinforces the fact that the origin of Tandoori chicken took place in the Harappa Civilization is the menion of roasting the meat, after marinating it in the spices,in the clay oven in the Susruta Samhita.
However, there have been arguments that the origin of Tandoori chicken dates back to the Mughal era. The counter argument for the same is that it is not in Awadhi cuisine.
Folklore says that Afghani women used the clay oven aka chula for making food. While someone else coined the term Tandoori, chula was being used already.
While the answers to Where does Tandoori come from?, and Who invented Tandoori Chicken? would be different but the man behind the popularised version of Tandoori chicken green chutney is indeed Kundan Lal Gujral and the origin of Tandoori Chicken in the current form is from his Moti Mahal. Did you know this before? Do you have any interesting food stories to share? If so share them in the comments below.