Originated in Persia, Tandoor became popular all across Central, Western, and South Asia. Tandoor is usually a cylindrical clay or a metal pot/oven with a height of about one metre. The heat is generated within the oven using charcoal or wood and the food is directly cooked on being exposed to the live-fire and the hot convection air.
Tandoor-cooked dishes have a unique charcoal earthen flavour and they are cooked at high-temperatures of 480 degree C.
Numerous techniques of cooking that can be initiated in a Tandoor
The high temperatures of the earthen oven provide radiant heat for baking. Fruits and vegetables like potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers are stuffed with vegetables, meat, spices, and roasted in a tandoor.
Food items can be grilled in the direct heat of the tandoor. Vegetables, cottage cheese, or meat pieces are marinated with yogurt, sauces and spices, added to skewers and grilled on the high flame. The dish attains a smoky flavour owing to the smoke that is produced from the dripping food sauces. Tandoori chicken, chicken tikka, and Galouti kababs are some of the savoured delicacies of the tandoor.
Also, flat breads are cooked by sticking them to the hot clay walls which produces an effect similar to griddling. Breads like naan, kulcha, tandoori roti are relished with vegetables and meat curries.
Brief comparison of the Traditional Tandoor with its modern counterpart- the Microwave Oven
A conventional tandoor uses natural sources of heat like charcoal or wood and is usually setup in an open area for allowing the heat and the smoke to escape easily. The flavours are rich and the taste of the dish comes out delectable. However, it is very difficult to install and operate a clay tandoor at home.
A microwave uses an electrical heating system with a plug-in power supply which can be easily installed in your kitchen. The modern microwave is being designed with features like charcoal grilling to mimic closely the functions of the authentic tandoor. The microwave is a more convenient option when we speak about home cooking, however, fans of tandoor still advocate the traditional method of cooking for getting the perfect tandoori taste.
A Traditional Tandoori Chicken Recipe
Tandoori chicken is the most popular and celebrated dish from the tandoor. Succulent, juicy, delicious and scrumptious, this basic recipe can do and go a long away for every tandoori chicken lover.
- Chicken pieces (remove skin)- 8 large (thighs, breast, wings)
- Oil for brushing
For the marinade:
- Chilli paste- 4 tsp
- Ginger Garlic paste- 3 tbsp
- Chaat Masala- 2 tsp
- Oil- 1 tbsp
- Curd- 3 tbsp
- Lemon juice- ½ lemon
- Tandoori masala-1.5 tsp
2 sticks cinnamon, 1 tbsp back peppercorns, 5 green cardamoms, 3 brown cardamom, 3 cloves, 1 bay leaf, ¾ tsp turmeric. Dry roast and grind all spices together. Tandoori Masala is ready.
- In a bowl, combine the chilli, chaat masala, tandoori masala, ginger garlic paste, curd, oil, salt, and lemon juice. Mix well.
- Rub the marinade thoroughly over the chicken pieces and also underneath the skin.
- Leave the chicken for 30 minutes in the marinade.
- Heat the tandoor well and grill the chicken pieces on a medium-high heat, till the chicken is char-cooked well and the juices stop dripping.
- Enjoy as a side dish or with flatbreads!