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Author Private Message [ Delete PM ]


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Posts: 2557

Joined: 13-June 02


A Tandoor is a clay pot oven with a bed of charcoal burning at the bottom,it has a large mouth with a lid at the top and a smaller appurture at the bottom.the temperature is regulated by opening or closing the the top and bottom openings allowing for passage of a stream of air making the charcoal at the bottom burn intensely or slowly.

meats and sometimes vegetables are skewered on long steel rods called seekhs (plural) and charcoal broiled in this oven. The flat breads like naan ( from the persian word noon meaning bread) roti and paratha etc are smacked onto the interior hot clay wall, where they stick and get cooked. when done these are pried off with utensils made especially for the purpose.

Foods prepared this way generally get termed ' Tandoori' like tandoori chicken or tandoori roti.

Even though Indian restaurants would have you believe that tandoors are very Indian they have existed for years in persia, the middle east, afganistan, pakistan etc. Tandoors embeded in the ground have been found in central Asia and were used by the mongols, who were nomadic warriors, they conqured northern India and brought these over.Theories abound. If you can get your hands on TANDOOR the Great Indian Barbeque By Ranjit Rai its a whole big book devoted to the tandoor and various reciepes.

A tandoori chicken is a whole or halved chicken, incisions are given so the marinade can work better.

In a basic restaurant style reciepe

A marinade is prepared with

yogurt, salt, garam masalla, cayenne powder, lemon juice, fresh ground ginger and garlic pastes. The chicken is allowed to marinate at least a few hours and then skered and charcoal broiled in a moderately hot tandoor basting occasionally with oil or ghee, until it is done.

Some chefs prefer to rub the chicken with the dry spices and ginger garlic pastes and let it sit a while before adding the yugurt and the rest of the stuff. Some will cook the chicken half, hang it for a while and let the heat cook it through, then finish it off. There is no wrong way, whaever works for you. Prior to farm raised birds a tenderiser like raw papaya paste would be used to soften up the free range chickens which were tough. Patting the bird dry prior to marination will ensure the marinade sticks well and hanging the yourt in a muslin cloth will produce a thicker tastier marinade.

In a restaurant 3 to 3 1/2 lb chickens ( split into two) are used and an order takes about 18 -20 minutes to execute.

On a grill use the indirect method and a few hickory chips will add more flavour.

Why is the tandoori chicken so red???

Contrary to what some people have been led to believe it is simply

Food Color!

Use of red food dyes was banned in the New delhi Hotel where I worked because it was a petrochemical derivative and considered a carcenogen and there were severe penalties if the health deptt. caught you.

We started without any food color but our customers did not accept a timid tandoori chicken things settled down , though, once we reached for that bottle of food color.

Lets do the tikka masalla another time!!


This is good stuff. You should put it on a general post, but I appreciate the PM. thanks.

Bombay Curry Company

3110 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305. 703. 836-6363

Delhi Club

Arlington, Virginia

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i operate a slmall indian restaurant, do a little cooking for the sunday brunch buffet, other restaurant chores dont leave me much time

Thanks for the post.

Ranjit Rai's book is very informative. And has all the tandoor related lore that one would need. Some good pictures of this oven as also the history related to it.

Care to share the name of your restaurant? Location? You have me very intrigued.:smile:

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  • 2 weeks later...
Thanks again.  Hmm...food coloring?

One experience I had with food colouring in Chicken Tikka was very sobering indeed.

Getting on for four years ago now, I got to thinking there was little benefit to adding food colour to some Indian dishes I was making, so decided to discard them. First up I removed the orange colouring from my Chicken Tikka marinades. It made no discernable difference to the taste.

But, my customers were not happy. After a series of complaints - including some pointed comments about what to expect by way of authenticity from a 'white guy' - I returned to the addition of the colouring.

The complaints ended. But not before I'd lost some customers for good. Including a shrink - a former regular who had made the worst of the comments about the authenticity of my cooking. I can't say I was sorry to lose her custom.

Ediot: commas should help a sentence, not make them unintelligble....and unintelligible has two i's not three... :wacko:

Edited by A Scottish Chef (log)
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Sorry about this experience Scottish Chef.

Glad to see you back in the Indian forum and posting... You were missed. :smile:

Thank you, Suvir, for those kind words. I missed this place greatly, too.

Hopefully I'll have more time on my hands to contribute a little more than of late. On top of everything else I'm finally getting together a band again :smile:

It's been a fantastic year so far, and now I hope to manage my time to include my two grandest passions of cooking and music making.

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It's been a fantastic year so far, and now I hope to manage my time to include my two grandest passions of cooking and music making.

Kudos to you for having made this possible.

And I hope we can enjoy reading more of your posts at eGullet. :smile:

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