If you’re a fan of Indian food, you may already know the aromas and flavors of tandoori. But even if you’re a big fan of Indian food, you may still be wondering, “What is tandoori food? And what is a tandoori oven?
Learn more about tandoori cooking, a traditional Indian cooking method, and its history. We’ll also talk about tandoori oven, preparation methods, and the different types of food that can be cooked. Let’s dive in!
What Is Tandoori Cooking?
Many people mistakenly think that the term tandoori refers to a specific recipe, but it is fair to use this term to describe an entire style of cooking. In tandoori cooking, meat is marinated and cooked at high temperatures in a tandoori oven. The marinating and high-heat cooking techniques are the hallmarks of Tandoori cuisine, which sets it apart from other cuisines of the world.
In many Tandoori dishes, the meat is soaked in a yogurt-based marinade before being cooked to achieve the desired flavor. The natural acidity of yogurt makes it a perfect ingredient for marinades. But that’s not all: its viscosity helps the meat adhere well and preserves the herbs and spices. The spices used in a typical tandoori marinade typically include
- cayenne pepper
- garam masala
What Is A Tandoor Oven?
A tandoor oven is an earthenware oven with a history dating back over 5,000 years.
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They are essentially vertical cylindrical earthenware vessels designed to withstand extremely high temperatures. Unlike the horizontal ovens found in Western kitchens, the tandoori does not have a vertical door that opens for the dressing and cooking of food. The meat and vegetables are skewered and fed into the oven through an opening on top.
In many cases, tandoors are buried in the ground or fenced in. This is to prevent the cook from coming into contact with the hot surface of the clay pot. In addition, they retain heat better and allow the cook to prepare authentic tandoor dishes.
How Do Tandoor Ovens Work?
The key to tandoor ovens is their ability to retain heat. To prevent overheating, tandoori ovens have only one opening on the top, through which heat can escape. The direct heat from the fire is reflected by the walls of the tandoor and produces intense heat, similar to that of a convection oven. Meat and vegetables are skewered and inserted vertically through the top opening, so that the juices flow into the flames and the tandoor also acts as a smoker, enhancing the taste.
The main advantage of the Tandoor oven is that once heated, it maintains its temperature for several hours without the need for additional fuel. And thanks to the ultra-high heat of the tandoor, even beef is perfectly cooked in less than 20 minutes. This is a great advantage, especially for those who like to eat outdoors, as it speeds up the preparation!
What Is The Temperature Of A Tandoor Oven?
As you probably already know, the most important feature of tandoori cooking is high heat. That’s why tandoori grills are designed to be much hotter than traditional horizontal grills. Most Tandoori recipes are cooked at temperatures between 500 and 600°C, but some can exceed 900°C.
What makes tandoori cooking special is that the food remains extremely juicy and appetizing despite the high temperatures. The intense heat of the tandoor allows the meat and vegetables to retain their juices and flavor immediately. Don’t let the charred surface fool you, the meat and vegetables are full of flavor on the inside.
What Can I Cook In My Tandoor Oven?
You can cook almost anything in a tandoor oven. From fish and lamb to mushrooms and zucchini, the culinary possibilities are endless. Of course, some dishes are classic tandoor dishes. These include.
- Tandoori chicken
- Tandoori Peaches
- Tandoori lamb
Naan, in particular, is an ideal dish for tandoor preparation. The dough sticks to the sides of the tandoor oven, bubbles, and browns, giving it a truly authentic taste and aesthetic appearance. Toppings like naan and paratha can also be cooked in the tandoor without any problem. Just don’t forget to prepare a rack to remove them easily and safely!
How to Cook In a Tandoor Oven?
As mentioned earlier, tandoor cooking involves skewering the marinated meat or vegetables and inserting them vertically into the holes at the top of the tandoor oven. This is a very simple technique because as long as the skewers are inserted, the food cooks on its own. Because the tandoor is so hot, most dishes are prepared in 20 minutes.
The biggest challenge when using the tandoor is the initial heat shock when it is opened. For those who are not used to heat-intensive cooking methods, it can be difficult to get used to at first. Remember to take precautions, such as keeping flammable items at a safe distance from the outside of the oven. If your hands are particularly sensitive to heat, you can also use oven mitts to reduce the intensity.