July 5, 2018
Tandoor ovens are hugely popular across the Middle East, India, Pakistan, and even parts of Central Asia and China, and are renowned for creating the famous flavours we know and love in the Indian and Pakistani restaurants in the UK.
Most tandoor ovens are large, permanent structures constructed in kitchens or outdoor areas, but there are also some smaller, portable versions that can be carried from place to place.
How Does a Tandoor Oven Work?
Although they come in numerous sizes and shapes, all tandoor ovens work on the same principle. The ovens are made primarily of clay with an insulated material on the outside – usually mud. They are cylindrical in shape, curving inwards towards the top like a jug; this shape concentrates the heat. The top is open for ventilation, pulling air through the oven and firing the fuel at the bottom.
A fire – usually made from charcoal – is lit in the bottom of the oven which heats the walls of the oven as well as the air inside to temperatures reaching 500°C. Before any cooking is done in the oven the fire is allowed to burn down so that the embers maintain a consistent temperature.
Cooking in a Tandoor
Flatbreads are made in a tandoor by being stuck to the inside of the oven. The super-heated surface provides the perfect adhesive platform to stick the dough and cook it quickly. They are peeled off when they are done.
Chicken and lamb is the most common meat cooked in a tandoor. It is cut into small pieces and skewered on a long metal skewer before being placed directly into the oven or laid across the top.
Because the ovens are well insulated and the way they are shaped, they can maintain a good cooking temperature for long periods of time with little additional fuel being required. For areas of the world where fuel may be scarce they provide an ideal solution to cooking for large amounts of people.
Tandoor ovens create unique flavours and even if you aren’t lucky enough to have one in your own home, you can always visit Royal Nawaab’s halal restaurant in London to experience true tandoor cooked food.