The Technique of Cooking in the Tandoor
Tandoor cooking is the technique of cooking poultry, meat, fish, or even bread. Commonly, meats are spread with a paste made of cumin, turmeric, ginger, cayenne, coriander, garlic, oil and lemon juice. A tandoor is an almost beehive-shaped clay oven in which food is cooked over a hot charcoal fire. This method of cooking is used in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and all over the Middle East and Central Asia.
You will always find various countries associated with such kind of tandoor cooking. Like other exclusive world dishes this too is considered to be one of the famous cooking methods that have become synonymous with the food that is being prepared. So, the hotter a tandoor gets the quicker it can cook your food. You can enjoy a sumptuous meal if you can prepare something really delicious on tandoor. You can therefore enjoy marinated meat cooked over an intense fire in a tandoor.
The design of a tandoor is thought to be something of a transitional form between a masonry oven and a makeshift earth oven, and is used almost exclusively for radiant cooking over live fire. Typically, a tandoor is buried into the ground and is enclosed in order to retain heat and prevent people from coming into contact with the outside surface. The secret to the tandoor is that heat can only escape through the top, and the ceramic sides intensify the heat from the direct flames. This creates a cooking environment that can reach soaring temperatures of around 480 degrees centigrade. It is quite normal for tandoor ovens to stay lit for extensive periods of time in order to keep this extremely high cooking temperature. Therefore, you can enjoy marinated meats which is lowered into the oven on long metal skewers and cooked under smoky and extremely hot environment.
Indian breads, such as roti and naan, are stuck to the inside of the tandoor in order to be cooked and perfectly accompany Indian curries and tandoori dishes. It is said that cooking naans and rotis in a tandoor is a crafted skill that not only requires a nimble hand but also a tolerance to high temperatures. The result is delicious; soft in the centre, flaky on the outside. They can then be used to scoop up other dishes, or are stuffed with a filling such as potatoes, nuts and raisins, or minced meat (usually mutton or lamb). Therefore, you can enjoy such a delicious dish within such a quick span of time. You can always cook the delicious delicacies in the tandoor through its unique cooking method without much hassle quite easily.
The blisteringly hot and smoky tandoor is the perfect environment for skewered meats to be lowered into. But the secret of any great tandoori dish lies in the marinade. Typically, marinades used for tandoori dishes start with yoghurt; it is thick, and has a natural acidity. It keeps the spices and herbs in place, and sticks to the meat very well. Traditionally, the yoghurt is flavoured with garam masala, coriander powder, ginger, cayenne pepper and garlic, amongst other flavours and spices. Meat will normally sit in this marinade for hours, sometimes even overnight; the longer the marinating, the better the taste. As well as this, the actual cooking process will be shorter as yoghurt acts as a tenderiser. Occasionally, especially when cooking goat, lamb or beef, raw papaya’s green skin will be used to tenderise the meat further. Vegetables are marinated in a similar style, but for a shorter period of time as no tenderising is necessary. A very popular vegetarian option for the tandoori is paneer – cottage cheese. You can always enjoy these delicacies such as paneer-cottage cheese anytime of the day. You just have to grill the paneer on tandoor to enjoy this wonderful delicacy.
In many Indian restaurants, both in India itself and worldwide, the tandoor is a fundamental fixture. It is being used everywhere across the world. Some new tandoors in modern Indian restaurants use gas or electricity instead of charcoal. Tandoor cooking is just one method contemporary Indian chefs use for cooking. Amaya restaurant at Knightsbridge in London has in fact used Tandoor grills as one of the cornerstones of their menu.