Tandoori Chicken was never my favorite dish, until I had it in Penang, Malaysia
Tandoori Chicken always tasted a little bland, sometimes sweet, and often times burnt, to me. I’ve had it in various parts of the world, including India / Pakistan. I keep going back to ordering it as every now and then though. For every now and then a restaurant seems to offer that subtle hint of culinary greatness.
When a certain dish hits your mouth and makes your taste buds come alive , you know this is how it was meant to taste originally
Where does Tandoori chicken come from?
The history of Tandoori chicken is not what most people think. The origin of tandoori chicken actually comes from Peshawar in North
West Pakistan. Of course this was in the 1920’s when Pakistan was still India, so India still claims the right to it. What’s more, the man who created Tandoori Chicken, Kundan Lal Gujral, was a Hindu Punjabi who after partitioning in 1947 fled to Delhi, India.
So, yes, although created in what is now Pakistan, tandoori chicken was technically invented in India.
How is tandoori chicken made?
Chicken is marinated with tandoori masala mixed with curd (a sour yogurt). Coriander, chili, and cayenne pepper are added with turmeric which gives it that infamous orange color you see. Though I have no doubt, in some places, excessive food coloring is also used.
The marinated chicken is then skewered with a metal rod, and placed into a clay tandoor oven to cook. The result means the chicken is slow cooked all the way though, leaving it moist inside, while crispy on the outside.
Discovering the best chicken tandoori in the world
If you read my travel journal about arriving into Georgetown Penang, you’ll know I had a rough day. I sat down at a restaurant I knew nothing about. And, ordered something that looked to have a lot of meat.
The first thing that hit me when my dish arrived was the smell. The tandoori masala scent was evident from the start. So much so it sent a wall of saliva cascading into my mouth.
Not to be disappointed, the first bite set my mouth ablaze with a mass of near euphoric excitement due to the exposure of exceptional taste alone.
Yes, it was so good I let out a moan. And, yes, the waiter, from Chennai, called his buddy over in amusement.
There have been very few times in my travels that I have tasted something so exceptionally good that it leaves a mark I will never forget. This did.
So much so, I ordered again. Just in case this was a one-off experience.
Is it Penang, or the restaurant that produces the best tandoori chicken?
I went back to the same place for a very early lunch the next day. And, yes, the same result. Mouth watering near on soul reviving flavors hit my taste buds once again.
A few days later in Penang, and I was quickly learning that food here is exceptionally fantastic.
No doubt about it, if you like food, get to Penang. Rarely does something taste bad here.
But what about the Tandoori chicken? I tried five other places. Yes, a little obsessive, but what the heck, if you are in search of the best tandoori, isn’t it worth it.
While good, the chicken tandoori in other restaurants paled in comparison to that very first place. A place I went to back to nearly everyday. A place I will not forget. Restoran Kassim Mustafa , on Chulia Street, Georgetown, Penang.
Everyone has their favorite place to eat
Food, certain dishes more so, brings out a passion in many people. They will swear by a place, or a cook.
Kassim Mustafa serves local style food, and most of it is quite good. Not great, but good.
However, honestly speaking, this place certainly has my seal of approval when it comes to the best tandoori chicken in the world.
I don’t know if they use a special ingredient, or the head cook is related to Kundan Lal Gujral. But they got it right every time I ate there.
Looking at the chicken, I can only assume it’s marinated for a very long time in authentic ingredients, and cooked from fresh. Yes, I’ve spent a lot of time there watching!
And, before anyone says anything, I paid for everything I ate there, and they don’t know about this article.
Argue your points, places and taste bud opinions away. But I challenge anyone who eats tandoori chicken here to say it’s not amazing!
This is an additional post and one of a series highlighting Food in Malaysia