Indian Foods Guide

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What is a Tandoor and where does Tandoori originate from?

Have you wondered, "Where does the word tandoori come from"? or have you tried making Tandoori chicken or Naan at ome and wondered, "Why does it not taste like it does in the restaurant?. The reason is because the restaurants would prepare the tandoori items and various breads in a tandoor. The tandoor is currently a very important fixture in many Indian restaurants around the world.  The word tandoori is the adjective meaning "pertaining to the tandoor" and is used to describe a dish cooked in a tandoor.

A tandoor is a cylindrical clay oven used in cooking and baking. The tandoor is used for cooking in Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Transcaucasus, the Balkans, the Middle East, Central Asia as well as India 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.

The tandoor is used for cooking certain types of Afghan, Pakistani and Indian, foods such as tandoori chicken,chicken tikka and bread varieties like tandoori roti and naan.  The tandoor is basically used to cook meat while Hindus and Sikhs of India are mostly vegeatarian so it was popularised during Muslim reign in South Asia. It is thought to have travelled to Central Asia and the Middle East along with the Roma people, who originated amongst the Thar Desert tribes.

The tandoor is also known by other names - 

  • 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 abode, and thus it gained the name.
  • In Armenia, It is known as a tonir which is a widely used method of cooking barbecue and lavash bread. 
  • In Georgia it is called a tone and is used for bread and kebab.

In the images below, you can see the chef cooking some kababs in the tandoor and also you can see him bake the Naan bread in the oven. The dough is kneaded and then the dough is stuck to the walls of the Tandoor where it gets baked to for the Naan. 

*  Images Courtesy of India Jewel Restaurant in Prague -

Source :
Images Courtesy of India Jewel Restaurant in Prague -  - Please do visit them if you are ever in Prague.

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