Red Dye Tandoori Chicken – You should avoid using the red dye for tandoori chicken.
When most of us go to Indian/Pakistani restaurants and we order Tandoori chicken we see the traditional red colored chicken that has been grilled in a tandoori clay oven. The red color identifies tandoori chicken against all other forms of grilled chicken dishes. It’s become the signature color for Indian grilled chicken also known as Tandoori Chicken. You might be a fan of the red color but in full disclosure, it does nothing to the taste of the chicken — it’s all about the spices.
Red dye tandoori chicken is simply just red color added to the marinade. There’s no magic trick and there is no magic spice that makes it turn this deep red color. Unfortunately most Indian restaurants use a red dye in their tandoori chicken.
There’s a long history to food coloring and I am not going to get into that here but I will tell you that current USA approved color for tandoori chicken is FD&C Red No. 40. Sounds crazy right? That’s because it is crazy to use a product called FD&C Red No. 40 which is essentially Allura Red AC. If you were to look at the ingredients of red coloring, it will contain Allura Red AC along with propylene glycol and propylparben. Certainly something I don’t want to consciously add to my food.
What do I recommend instead of food coloring to your tandoori chicken? You will not be able to exactly recreate tandoori chicken from a restaurant unless you use a tandoori oven and red food coloring so I recommend that you use my Tandoori Masala powder which has ground chili pepper skins that will help provide a natural red color. If you take some of my tandoori masala and mix it with Yogurt, you will quickly see the marinade turn red. When you grill it, it will retain most of the red color but also have a turmeric orange to it as well.