Although I love Indian food, I’ve never been daring enough to make it at home. But that all changed today.
Meet Tandoori Chicken, my spicy new best friend.
According to Wikipedia, this is one recipe that really tells the story of two nations that share many things, including animosity towards each other.
It was originally created by a restauranteur in Peshawar province, before the partition of British-controlled India.
Partition was an incredibly violent and dangerous time. Carving up the territory into rival nations, India and Pakistan, meant that many Hindus found themselves on the “wrong” side of a newly created border and the same thing happened to Muslims in India.
The restauranteur, Kundan Lal Gujral, was Hindu and he made the dangerous journey out of Peshawar to finally arrive in Delhi where he started a new restaurant but maintained his prized Tandoori Chicken recipe.
The dish soon became a favorite of India’s first Prime Minister Jawarhalal Nehru and he served it at state dinners honoring American presidents John Kennedy and Richard Nixon, as well as other world leaders.
Like many dishes, Tandoori Chicken can’t be said to belong to any one nation. Its name comes not from a region or a religion but from the tandoor – a small, bell-shaped clay oven.
However, I – a Catholic in New Jersey who has never visited South Asia – made a pretty good version of it on a grill in my backyard.
If you’re interested in learning more about partition – a really fascinating story – there are many books and articles you can read about Mohandas Gandhi and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the men who led India and Pakistan, respectively, during this time.
I can recommend the film “Jinnah,” which was written by Dr. Akbar Ahmed, with whom I worked at American University.
Although I have always been interested in history and world cultures, Dr. Ahmed was the person who introduced me to this really incredible story.
Isn’t it amazing that food can be an avenue to explore all this?
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