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Talk about Indian food with a foreigner and guess what he would talk about? Yes, tandoori chicken! Tandoori chicken is bonded with Indian food and no one can deny that. As most of us are familiar with the word bhatti for the tandoor it would interest you to know that tandoor got its name from the the Bhatti tribe of the Thar Desert. This tribe developed the bhatti in their desert abode as a convenient form of heat for cooking and with time the bhatti travelled to Central Asia and the Middle East.

Tandoori food is considered very healthy as it is easy to cook with llimited use of fat as a medium of cooking. A tandoor can cook not only meats, fish and poultry but also breads such as rotis and naans. The lavash of the Middle East is also cooked in the tandoor. In India, the use of a tandoor is the most important in traditional North Indian cooking, and many breads and dishes were designed especially for these clay ovens. This includes parantha, naan, kulcha, roti, tandoori lamb chops, chicken tikka, tandoori chicken, seekh kabab, tandoori prawns, reshmi kabab, and a variety of other dishes.

In fact, it is important to know here that even Irani and Pakistani food is cooked in the tandoor but the way we make the tandoori chicken is world famous. Tandoors are also popular in the Middle East and Bangladesh. Tandoori food has a distinctive smoky flavour that is produced because of the clay oven’s design. Heat in a tandoor is generated from lit coals at the base of the oven (which has a similar shape to a pot-bellied stove). As the food inside it cooks, its juices drop down onto these hot coals, producing deliciously flavoured smoke that is the signature of tandoori food. Tandoor is the hottest form of cooking one can imagine. An electric oven can go to maximum 250? C but a tandoor, powered by hot charcoal fire, can cook food with finesse at temperatures as high as 480? C. Tandoori cooking at such high temperatures first sears the outer most covering of the food sealing in the natural juices. Food that has to go into the tandoor is always pretreated with a marinade. The marinade allows the inner cooking of the morsel as the heat transforms all the flavours.

A tandoor can cook a lot. Like: Gosht Pudina Kabab, Khasta Roti, Boti Kabab, Taftan etc… the recipes given here will give you the perfect taste of tandoor cooking!


-----> Tandoori Cooking @ Home

Are there alternatives?

Modern day tandoors for home use or restaurant use are operated on electricity or gas. Only a few of us these days, however, are lucky enough to have our own charcoal tandoor. Barbecues can be pretty good, especially where cooking can be done over a grill that lets food juices run onto the burners or coals. The effect is not quite that of the tandoor, but the resulting flavour is acceptable.

You could choose a conventional oven to cook tandoori dishes. The similarity here is that both the oven and the tandoor have an enclosed space where heat is trapped, but the former does not produce the trademark smoky flavouring of real tandoori food. This method is the best alternative for cooking tandoori breads (naan, roti, kulcha etc), when a tandoor is not available because the bread is surrounded by heat.

A grill can be used when cooking food like lamb chops or chicken tikka even though the concept of grill cooking is really the reverse of tandoori cooking. A grill does not have an enclosed space and food is heated by elements from above. Nevertheless, we can cook some tasty food on the grill. The grill is good for quick cooking especially when the barbecue is not an option. 

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