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Tandoor vs. Tikka — What's the Difference?

By Fiza Rafique & Maham Liaqat — Updated on May 16, 2024
Tandoor is a type of traditional clay oven used in Indian cooking, while Tikka refers to small pieces of marinated meat or vegetables typically cooked in a tandoor.
Tandoor vs. Tikka — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Tandoor and Tikka


Key Differences

A tandoor is a cylindrical clay oven used extensively in Indian cuisine for baking and cooking. It operates at high temperatures, ideal for cooking naan, roti, and various types of kebabs. Tikka, on the other hand, is a dish consisting of small pieces of meat, fish, or vegetables marinated in spices and yogurt. These pieces are traditionally skewered and cooked in a tandoor, resulting in a flavorful and tender dish.
The tandoor plays a central role in cooking a variety of Indian dishes, not just tikkas. It can reach temperatures of up to 900°F, cooking food quickly while sealing in flavors and juices. Tikka refers specifically to the marinated, skewered pieces cooked in the tandoor or on a grill.
While the tandoor is the cooking apparatus, tikka is the prepared food that benefits from the tandoor's intense heat and unique cooking environment. The marinade used for tikka typically includes yogurt, lemon juice, and a blend of spices, which helps tenderize the meat and infuse it with flavor.

Comparison Chart


Traditional cylindrical clay oven
Marinated, skewered pieces of meat or vegetables

Primary Use

Baking and cooking at high temperatures
Cooking marinated pieces in a tandoor or grill

Common Dishes

Naan, roti, kebabs
Chicken tikka, paneer tikka, fish tikka

Cooking Method

High-heat cooking, often reaching 900°F
Marinated, skewered, and cooked in a tandoor

Flavor Profile

Imparts smoky flavor and char
Spiced, flavorful, and tender due to marinade

Compare with Definitions


Traditional clay oven used in Indian cooking.
The naan was baked perfectly in the tandoor.


Marinated with spices and yogurt.
The fish tikka was marinated in a blend of spices and yogurt.


Imparts a unique smoky flavor to food.
The chicken had a distinct smoky taste from the tandoor.


Known for its flavorful and tender texture.
The beef tikka was tender and packed with flavor.


Operates at very high temperatures.
The tandoor can reach up to 900°F.


Common variations include chicken tikka, paneer tikka.
Vegetarian guests enjoyed the paneer tikka.


Used for baking bread like naan and roti.
They cooked the roti in the tandoor for a smoky flavor.


Small pieces of marinated meat or vegetables.
They served chicken tikka with a side of mint chutney.


Ideal for grilling and roasting meats.
The lamb kebabs were grilled in the tandoor.


Typically cooked in a tandoor or on a grill.
The paneer tikka was cooked to perfection in the tandoor.


A tandoor ( or ) also known as tannour is predominantly a cylindrical clay or metal oven used in cooking and baking. The tandoor is used for cooking in Southern, Central, and Western Asia, as well as in the South Caucasus.The heat for a tandoor was traditionally generated by a charcoal or wood fire, burning within the tandoor itself, thus exposing the food to live fire, radiant heat cooking, and hot-air, convection cooking, and smoking in the fat and food juices that drip on to the charcoal.


A pendant attached by a chain so as to hang from the parting of the hair to the middle of the forehead, worn especially by Hindu brides.


A cylindrical oven made of clay, heated over charcoal or wood, and used in South Asia and Central Asia for baking bread and roasting meat.


A bindi.


A cylindrical clay oven used, in the cuisine of the Caucasus, Middle East, and Indian subcontinent, to make flat bread, or to cook meat.


A South Asian dish consisting of pieces of chicken or other meat marinated in yogurt and spices and cooked on a skewer.


A clay oven used in northern India and Pakistan


A marinade made from various aromatic spices usually with a yoghurt base; often used in Indian cuisine prior to grilling in a tandoor.

Common Curiosities

Can tikka be cooked without a tandoor?

Yes, tikka can also be cooked on a grill or in a regular oven, though the tandoor imparts a unique smoky flavor.

What is the main difference between tandoor and tikka?

Tandoor is a traditional clay oven used for cooking, while tikka refers to marinated, skewered pieces of meat or vegetables typically cooked in a tandoor.

What makes tandoor cooking unique?

The high temperatures and the clay oven's design give food a distinct smoky flavor and char.

What spices are commonly used in tikka marinade?

Common spices include cumin, coriander, turmeric, garam masala, and chili powder.

How hot does a tandoor get?

A tandoor can reach temperatures up to 900°F.

What is the purpose of marinating tikka?

Marinating helps tenderize the meat and infuses it with spices and flavors.

Is tandoor cooking healthy?

Tandoor cooking is relatively healthy as it uses high heat to quickly cook food, reducing the need for excess oil.

Can you bake bread in a tandoor?

Yes, breads like naan and roti are traditionally baked in a tandoor.

What types of food are cooked in a tandoor?

Foods such as naan, roti, various kebabs, and tikka are commonly cooked in a tandoor.

Is tikka always made from meat?

No, tikka can also be made from vegetables or paneer (Indian cottage cheese).

Can you use a regular oven to replicate tandoor cooking?

While a regular oven can be used, it may not fully replicate the high heat and smoky flavor of a tandoor.

What is the texture of tikka?

Tikka is typically tender and juicy, with a flavorful crust from the marinade and cooking process.

Can a tandoor be used indoors?

Traditionally, tandoors are used outdoors, but smaller electric or gas tandoors can be used indoors.

What is the origin of tandoor and tikka?

Both tandoor and tikka have origins in the Indian subcontinent.

Do you need a special skewer for cooking tikka in a tandoor?

Long metal skewers are commonly used for cooking tikka in a tandoor.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Maham Liaqat

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