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TandoorIn India, we have basically three types of tandoors. The small home tandoor- clay and iron. Commercial clay tandoor and commercial iron tandoor. The home clay tandoor is small in size and can accomodate 8 to 10 rotis at a time. In a major improvisation, the tandoor is now enclosed in a metallic drum. It prevents it from cracking and can be carried from place to place. The commercial tandoor is usually a much larger version that has been enclosed in brick walls that have been cemented. The caps between the cement plastered walls and the tandoor are filled with sand and glass wool. Sand is a good conductor of heat and also serves as the heat bank. Glass wool serves as an insulator and doesn’t let the heat to escape. When fixing the tandoor, the mouth of the tandoor should be nearest to where the cook stands, and the opening at the bottom on the left side wall, away from the cook, so that direct heat is not felt while cooking. The counter top is used for holding the basic cooking materials such as dough, flour and water. The commercial iron tandoor is basically a creation of the Nawabs of Awadhi cuisine. It is used to bake enriched rotis which have a very high content of butter or fat. If cooked in the traditional clay tandoor the rotis tend to stick to the clay as the clay absorbs the butter or fat. But in an iron tandoor such is not the case. The first iron tandoor used in any of the Oberoi Hotels is in the Gharana Kitchen of the Oberoi Grand, Calcutta. Baked terracotta tandoors are used in the remote villages of Punjab on festive occasions. These are cylinderical storage jars sunk into the ground and converted into tandoors. Fuel is put in from the top. A side channel replaces the opening at the bottom that allows both air to circulate, and the ashes to be removed. The cooking is done in the usual way, by slapping the dough along the sides of the walls. TANDOORS ALL OVER THE WORLD CHINA China is also familiar with the tandoor. In North China, a very special dish called the Peking Duck is still prepared in the tandoor. This dish, as served at the more sophisticated restaurants of the other parts of the world, is usually cooked in the oven. The tandoors in China were made with a very special porcelain clay that is specific to that region. The basic construction and operation is the same, the only difference being that this tandoor has a lid. To cook the Peking Duck, skewers are replaced with hooks. IRAN Known as a Tanoor, the tandoor is even today, extensively used in Iran to bake naans. No one makes these at home, for they are available as bread, at every corner in each locality. The three main types are called berbery, sangak and lavash. The tandoors are very big, with the floor made of brick or stone. The dough is rolled out by an assistant and put on a board that has a long stick attached to it. The nanva, as he is known, puts this board through the small opening of the tandoor and the dough goes on the floor. Thirty to forty naans can be had in one heating. The naan baked on a brick floor is the berbery and is generally eaten at breakfast. It is slightly thick and oval shaped. The top is patterned with the fingers. The naan baked on a stone floor is called sangak. This naan has the impressions of the stones on it, is crisp and delicious, and is generally eaten at the mid day meal. Lavash is made in a mud tandoor similar to those we have in India, though bigger in size. This tandoor is also made in India, particularly in Delhi by one of the most famous tandoor makers in the world - Munni Lal. Lavash is very thin and keeps well for a number of days. ARAB COUNTRIES Some desert tribes still use a very oprimitive form of the tandoor that can be constructed at any site where caly and twigs are avialable. Once ready, twigs and leaves are burnt in this oven and when it is hot, the flattened dough is stuck onto the sides. When baked, it falls off and is taken out. Sometimes a stand is constructed in the middle of the tandoor on which a single pot of meat curry or dal is cooked along with the breads being prepared. CAUCASUS In the Caucasian region, an oven called Tone resembles the Tandoor and also works on the same principle. It is made of bricks and measures three feet across and four feet in depth. The dough is usually patted into an elongated shape, placed in the Tone and baked till it is golden brown. EUROPE By a strange coincidence, in Zurich there is a traditional clay cooking pot called the Romertopf, which is more like a makeshift tandoor. The Romertopf is small and it has to be put in an oven with the dish in the romertopf. As the romertopf heats up, it imparts a wrap around heat similar to that in a tandoor. The skewers resting on the edges of the dish have to be turned occasionally, the dripping falling to the bottom of the dish.

Note: The blog is adapted from the book "Tandoor by Ranjit Rai".


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