If you’ve ever wondered why cooking traditional Indian cuisine at home never tastes the same as it does in a restaurant, the answer lies within the tandoor.
The tandoor is a very important fixture in many Indian restaurant kitchens around the world, and it holds the secret for the unique, delicious taste of authentic Indian cuisine. Most people seem to think that tandoori is a recipe. It is actually a cooking method that is one and the same with the food that is prepared.
A tandoor is a cylindrical clay oven used in cooking and baking. It is similar to a very large clay pot, large enough to hold a very hot, good-sized fire and all the food that gets placed in it. The real secret is that heat can only escape through the top.
The word tandoori means “pertaining to the tandoor” and is used to describe a dish cooked in a tandoor. Tandoori is a marinated meat cooked over an intense fire in a tandoor. Marinated meats are lowered into the oven on long metal skewers and cooked in this smoky and extremely hot environment until done.
The tandoor is also used for cooking certain types of Indian, foods such as tandoori chicken, chicken tikka and bread varieties like tandoori, roti and naan. The dough is needed and then stuck to the walls of the Tandoor where it gets baked into Naan.
The tandoor is used for cooking in India, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Balkans, the Middle East, Central Asia and Bangladesh. The heat for a tandoor was traditionally generated by a charcoal fire or wood fire, burning within the tandoor itself, thus exposing the food to both live-fire, radiant heat cooking, and hot-air, convection cooking. Temperatures in a tandoor can approach 480°C (900°F), and it is common for tandoor ovens to remain lit for long periods of time to maintain the high cooking temperature. Some modern day tandoors use electricity or gas instead of charcoal.
In India, the tandoor is also known by the name of Bhatti. The Bhatti tribe of the Thar Desert of northwestern India and eastern Pakistan developed the Bhatti in their desert dwelling.
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