Sonia’s Food Field Note

A small tidbit first:

On the weekend April 20th, I took a trip with my roommates to the West Indian state of Goa. It wasn’t until after we had enjoyed the state’s beautiful beaches and seafood that I had one of my favorite dishes. As we were leaving to go back home (in Bangalore) we took a rest stop to eat before our bus arrived. This is what we ate…

What food did I try?

Tandoori Chicken—what is it? It is a deliciously delectable roasted-to-a-crisp chicken dish. Prepared from yogurt and spices, it is a very unique South Asian meal that has become popular throughout the world. The name “Tandoori” comes from the type of cylindrical clay oven, a tandoor, in which the dish is traditionally prepared. Into the oven goes the chicken and out comes one of my favorite dishes.

How did I feel when I tried it?

First of all, I must tell you that I am a chicken fan. I love all types of chicken—chicken in soups, chicken fingers, chicken burgers, chicken pasta, baked chicken, chicken pot pie…you probably get the point. So it was with much excitement that I ordered my meal. It came to me and was in chicken euphoria. The chicken comes out bright reddish orange, the edges of which are burned to a crisp—a crisp that contains all the lovely tandoor spices the chicken was originally marinated in.

How is this food prepared?

Upon arriving I saw a small storefront restaurant crowded with people who were surrounding a man that seemed to be pulling out a very large shish kebab from a garbage can. I was curious and a bit terrified at the thought of food coming out of a metal trash bin. I took a small peek into it and saw that the metal bin had been customized to roast chicken. The smoke wafted toward my nostrils and the smell coming from that strange trash can was just too irresistible. I took my chances and ordered a plate. As mentioned before, tandoori chicken is roasted in a clay oven (in this case a metal bin) where it is first marinated in yogurt then seasoned with the tandoori “masala” or spices. These spices include cayenne pepper and red chili powder is used to give it a fiery red hue. At the bottom of the Tandoor, layers of charcoal are set which act as the fuel for the fire. There is also a small opening at the bottom that acts as the natural chimney allowing the air to enter.

Is this food connected to its environment? How?

Tandoori chicken is a very old dish originating from Northern India dating back to the 17th century when Mughal emperors ruled the land (Mughals were Muslim and direct descendants of Genghis Khan). It has become a world-renown dish that both tourists and locals enjoy. From my travels around India I’ve seen it sold almost anywhere but it is most predominantly regarded as a Northern dish.

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Tandoori chicken dish with green chutney 

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Tandoori coming out of the tandoor

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Tandoori chicken stand

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