Cookbook:Tandoori Masala

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Tandoori Masala
Tandoori Chicken.jpg
Note Tandoori chicken can be made with Tandoori masala

Tandoori masala is a mixture of spices specifically for use with a tandoor, or clay oven, in traditional Pakistani and Indian Punjabi cooking. The specific spices vary somewhat from one region to another, but typically include fenugreek, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, garlic, ginger, etc.

The spices are ground to a fine powder in a coffee grinder or with a mortar and pestle. The masala is mixed with plain yogurt, and meat (usually chicken) is coated with the mixture, then slow-roasted in the tandoor. Chicken prepared in this fashion has a pink-coloured exterior and a savoury flavor.

The masala can be stored in airtight jars for up to 2 months, and is used in dishes like tandoori chicken, chicken tikka masala, butter chicken, etc., all of them mostly Punjabi dishes. It can be used with meat other than chicken, for example, in tandoori fish or paneer tikka.

Nowadays, packets of tandoori chicken masala are readily available at major Pakistani and Indian supermarkets, with varying tastes depending on the brand. This convenience has led to many Pakistanis and Indians buying the masala rather than making it at home.


  • 1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds OR Methi
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon hot masala OR Garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder OR haldi
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder OR Mirchi
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and cleaned
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • fresh ginger (1 thumb-sized piece)
  • 2 jalapeño peppers (seeds and all)
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro (washed, long stems cut off)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (yogurt hung in cheesecloth to remove excess liquid works best)


  • Roast the fenugreek and onion seeds first by heating and tossing in a sauté pan(Dosa Pan) for several minutes. Grind them together using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.
  • In a food processor, blend fenugreek and onion seeds with the salt, garam masala, turmeric, curry powder, coriander powder, cumin, chili powder, paprika, garlic, vegetable oil, ginger, jalapeños, cilantro and lemon juice until all the ingredients become a smooth paste.
  • Spoon the mixture into a large mixing bowl and stir in the yogurt.
  • Marinate meat or fish for eight hours (or bathe first in white distilled vinegar for shorter marination time). Tofu, vegetables or paneer can be tossed into the marinade just before grilling. Use the marinade to baste over the grill.

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