A tandoor is a large urn-shaped oven, usually made of clay, originating from the Indian Subcontinent. Since antiquity, tandoors have been used to bake unleavened flatbreads, such as roti and naan, as well as to roast meat.
Tandoor ovens are clay ovens that date back over 5,000 years and are most commonly associated with the Punjabi region of India and Pakistan.
They can be large, permanent structures ensconced in a kitchen or outdoor area, or they can be smaller, portable ovens that can be moved from place to place.
Traditionally the fuel used in Tandoor is charcoal or firewood. Modern Tandoor ovens use cooking gas and electricity also instead of charcoal.
The ovens are made of clay with insulating material like concrete or mud on the outside. They are cylindrical and often curve inward toward the top like a beehive or jug to concentrate the heat. A top opening is left clear to allow access and ventilation.
The key to a tandoor oven’s function is its ability to lock in heat. A fire is built in the bottom of the tandoor, which heats both the walls of the oven and the air inside to upwards of 900° Fahrenheit!
Before cooking, the fire is allowed to die down to coals so that the temperature remains consistent while the food is cooked. The biggest advantage of these ovens is that once they are heated, they will maintain a consistently high temperature for hours with very little additional fuel.
From fish and lamb to mushrooms and zucchini, there’s no end to the possibilities for preparing the perfect meal. Naan in particular is an excellent dish to prepare in a tandoor. The bread dough sticks to the side of the tandoor oven, bubbling up and charring to perfection for a truly authentic aesthetic and flavour. You can even cook roti, stuffed naan and parathas in a tandoor for a meal.
Tandoori cooking is a very healthy way to prepare food because it does not incorporate any chemicals into the food, nor does it use any synthetic fuel or gas to cook. Also, no healthy elements of the food will be lost during the cooking process. Better still, the flavour of the meats will be locked into the food.