FOOD: TRADITIONAL CLAY TANDOOR OVENS

All this talk about ovens this week made my start to think about all the different kinds of ovens I’ve had the chance to work with over the years.  If you haven’t had the Huevos to jump into Indian Food, all I can say is shame on you; shame on you. While it has its time and place, that place, if done right, is better than a kick in the nuts.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou truly haven’t lived until you have cooked in a  tandoor oven.  The most commonly used is a cylindrical clay or metal oven used for cooking and baking. The tandoor is used for cooking in Southern, Central and Western Asia, as well as in the 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 by the fat and food juices that drip on to the charcoal; YUM! Temperatures in a tandoor can approach 480 °C (900 °F).  Ya that’s pretty fuck’n hot, and it is common for tandoor ovens to remain lit for long periods to maintain the high cooking temperature. 

girlOne of the most amazing things to cook in a Tandoor oven is naan bread.  A typical naan recipe involves mixing white flour with salt, a yeast culture, and enough yogurt to make a smooth, elastic dough. The dough is kneaded for a few minutes, then set aside to rise for a few hours. Once risen, the dough is divided into balls, which are flattened and cooked. Sounds pretty normal, but its the method that it is cooked that’s so cool. 

hhThe dough is flattened and then thrown on to the side of the oven to cook. It is removed at just the right moment with two metal sticks that resemble chop sticks, Typically, it is served hot and brushed with ghee or butter.  The Naan is the tortilla of Indian culture and is used the same, wrapped round delicious meats in spicy sauces.  You simply can’t go wrong. – DAN