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Tandoor cooking


bigbrowncow
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Hello all.

Some of you might be interested in my experiences building a tandoor from scratch in an oil drum.

gallery_47784_3520_30738.jpg

gallery_47784_3520_144517.jpg

I've put lots of photos on oildrumtandoor.blogspot.com. I've also given step-by-step instructions in case anyone wants to copy (and improve) my approach.

So far we've cooked:

- whole tandoori chickens

- tandoori king prawn

- naan breads

- sag paneer

- roast peppers and onions

- aubergine tikkas

- home made paneer

- corn and potato seekh

- lamb seekh

I would welcome any help on:

- getting the seekh kebabs to stick to the skewer ... they all go limp and fall off when cooked

- any tips on suspending a large chicken from a single skewer. Both chickens fell down onto the charcoal when nearly cooked...didn't taste any the worse for it though

- tips on getting an authentic naan taste - what kind of flour?

And of course I'm happy to answer any questions you might have!

Steve

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Nothing says eGullut like building your own tandoor.  Colour me impressed.  Now can I see pictures of the naan you can make in it?

I can't offer any suggestions but would like to laud you on the incredible effort undertaken to DIY a tandoor. The detailed information ls amazing. The pictures are great and lots of commentary about the building/firing process.

I do have a couple questions though they may sound newbie-ish.

How long does it take to get the tandoor heated up starting with charcoal out of the bag?

How long does it take a full chicken to cook?

I gather that the tandoor is designed to create a much greater heat than other typical baking approaches. How does the intense heat affect the cooked items, simliar to grilling in that you quickly develop a outside crust that keeps the moisture in?

I think I have read that cooking in clay vessels has some effect on moisture, does the tandoor also do something similar?

Thanks for sharing such an ambitious job!

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Hi: interesting project - I'm not any kind of

tandoor experienced cook, but a couple of ideas:

1. food falling off: the angle of your tandoor may

be steeper than those in restaurants? the solution

may be to find skewers with hooks or squiggles at one

end to keep the ingredients on. the other end is ordinary

for sliding on and off ...

2. naan - what flour are you using now?

i've seen a lot of variation in recipes - ranging

from all purpose flour to white flour, but i imagine

something closer to white flour (maida) would work better?

milagai

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Thanks for your comments.

Windtrader, the tandoor takes about an hour and a half to get to cooking temperature. I could probably do it a bit quicker with an improved lighting technique. I'm aiming for about 280-300°C to cook although on reflection I think some of the food would work better even hotter (some of the damper foods don't crisp enough for my taste).

I'm doing a 1.8kg chicken with 15mins in the tandoor, 5mins resting/basting and usually another 5-10mins in the tandoor. Roast chicken in 20mins! The deepest parts inside can be a bit pink but it is definitely cooked through.

The food is very different to oven-cooked. The outsides are crustier and the insides are juicier. Even the blackest parts don't have the burnt taste of badly char-grilled food. I don't know whether this is the result of the clay, the marinade, the shape of the vessel or all these factors and more. It works though!

Milagai, you are right about the angles. The food falling of the skewers I am most bothered about are the soft, hand shaped seekh kebabs. The mixtures (ground lamb based and potato+corn based) start off firm enough to hold their shape, but collapse when partly cooked...

I'm using strong white flour for the naans. Maybe I should try white chapati flour? The recipe uses both yeast and baking powder.

Some naan pictures for Kerry.

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/3390/35...00/IMG_3202.jpg

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/3390/35.../IMG_3235.0.jpg

Steve

Edited to fix "user posted images"

Edited by bigbrowncow (log)
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Second that motion -- nothing says egullet than a homebuilt tandoor oven. I'm awestruck.

As far as making the seekh kebabs stick to the skewers -- I have the same problem myself, but the only useful advice I have, is to uh, "work" the meat when shaping it onto the skewers. Squeezing the mixture seems to compress it and make it stick better, without making the final result hard or dry. That's the only method I've found that helps -- but I'm just grilling them horizontally, over a regular Weber kettle grill, though.

You obviously know what you're doing, so how about sharing your seekh kebab recipe? :smile:

Fantastic work, man... That's a beaut.

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Maybe any of the desi chefs lurking here can chime in,

but my memories of Delhi street food suggest that

seekh kababs are usually made over the horizontal

charcoal grills, not in the (slanting) tandoors.....

I've seen the boti type (chunk type) kababs, whole chickens

etc. made in the tandoors.

How is tandoori fish made to stick without falling off, I wonder...

Milagai

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Brilliant!

I just love the fact that you made your own tandoor. It is my dream to one day too construct a tandoor of my own, hopefully soon I will have the resources to build it and the space to store it.

I had a discussion the other day with a friend of mine on tandoors, and he theorized that the reason they are able to cook things so quickly is that the clay creates infrared (radiating) heat that penetrates the meat (due to its short wavelength) rather than bouncing off the surface. This allows the tandoor cook to bypass the poor thermal conductivity of meat. A whole chicken in 20 minutes indeeed! I had read that it took half an hour.

Would you be willing to go into more detail about your naan recipe? I have tried a number of recipes myself, though never in a tandoor. I wouldn't suggest the use of chapati flour, in fact I would suspect that the flour itself is not really that important. I have tried recipes that use milk, yogurt, and eggs among other things but usually the flour is unvaried - simply plain unbleached allpurpose or bread. I will have to go back and look over them and see if I can suggest a good one to you.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I've been a bit busy with the day job so experimentation has slowed down.

I tried the Madhur Jaffrey recipe for naans which turned out with perfect texture but a cakey/scone/biscuit flavour. I did manage to get my naan spreading technique under way with some coaching from the local curry house. More experimentation required with recipes.

The clay was from a potters supplier and cost about £50. Now that it has been fired it seems totally stable and there has been no more cracking at all.

Steve

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Your tandoor doesn't sound like it's reaching a high enough temp for naan. The hotter the better. The intense heat triggers a large amount of steam/oven spring, that, in turn, creates a super fluffy interior with a chewy exterior and excellent level of char underneath. Neopolitan pizzas work in a similar fashion.

All purpose flour should work fine, just make sure it's on the stronger side of the spectrum rather than the weaker. For the maximum amount of gluten formation, I'd avoid adding any fat to the initial dough (other than fat that's in the milk).

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Here is somebody else's experience with a Tandoor. :laugh::laugh:

Tandoor, a wedding present!

A world-weary Chicago Transit Authority bus driver transported my steel drum home from the hardware store without batting an eye. Friends and family helped me lug mortar mix and cut the vent. Every Saturday afternoon for four weeks, I lined the barrel - and the basement floor - with cement.

I fry by the heat of my pans. ~ Suresh Hinduja

http://www.gourmetindia.com

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Hello all.

Some of you might be interested in my experiences building a tandoor from scratch in an oil drum.

gallery_47784_3520_30738.jpg

gallery_47784_3520_144517.jpg

I've put lots of photos on oildrumtandoor.blogspot.com. I've also given step-by-step instructions in case anyone wants to copy (and improve) my approach.

So far we've cooked:

- whole tandoori chickens

- tandoori king prawn

- naan breads

- sag paneer

- roast peppers and onions

- aubergine tikkas

- home made paneer

- corn and potato seekh

- lamb seekh

I would welcome any help on:

- getting the seekh kebabs to stick to the skewer ... they all go limp and fall off when cooked

- any tips on suspending a large chicken from a single skewer. Both chickens fell down onto the charcoal when nearly cooked...didn't taste any the worse for it though

- tips on getting an authentic naan taste - what kind of flour?

And of course I'm happy to answer any questions you might have!

Steve

Back when I was researching for my outdoor pizza/bake oven DIY, I am almost positive that I read that naan were composed of chick-pea flour. If so, nothing else would duplicate that.

Ray

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Hi bigbrowncow!

Did you have a hard time finding the restaurant type skewers? It was the most frustrating thing for me and I ended have them machine shopped.

Oh well, it was a worth it :)

I'll post some pictures tomorrow.

Namaste!

**Edit

bbc, I missed your queries. I'll try to answer them here:

- getting the seekh kebabs to stick to the skewer ... they all go limp and fall off when cooked

- any tips on suspending a large chicken from a single skewer. Both chickens fell down onto the charcoal when nearly cooked...didn't taste any the worse for it though

- tips on getting an authentic naan taste - what kind of flour?

- Getting the protein to stick on the kebeb: Are your kebabs flat or round? On flat kebabs, keep the metal and your hand moist while wrapping around the meat. Press firmly, but not hard. Do a once or twice over to make sure the meat is solidly in place.

The oven has to be very HOT. This is important. 700-900 F. The hotter the better. You want the metal to sear the meat that is sticking to it almost instantly.

It may take some practice, but the important thing is HEAT and kebab shape.

- Yes. Buy or have a spit made that can hold a small pig or mutton (why stop at chicken? :) ) securely, vertically. It will hold a chicken, no problem. You need a spit though. I think it's the only way.

- Naan. Sorry, with that much heat, I'm too chicken to stick my hand in there! :)

Regards!

Edited by Obese-Wan Kenobi (log)
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