||Material Used – Material used is plastic clay (without sand) mixed with munj (a kind of grass).
Modeling Method of making Tandoors
Step I: Once the clay is ready for use, slabs about 120-150 mm wide, 500-600 mm long and 20-30 mm thick, are made. Some dry clay is sieved on to these and then they are rolled into cylinders. These cylinders are then unrolled into a sort of semi-circle. Two or three such unrolled cylinders are molded together into a circle. This circle forms the base of the clay oven.
Step II: After the base is made, the uppermost part of this ring is pinched at intervals to create little notches. It is then left to dry overnight so that it becomes hard and ready to receive the weight of the next ring.
Step III: When the clay has dried to the correct hardness, another ring is fused on top of this ring. This smooth and wet clay ring fits on top of the earlier ring, especially where the notches have been pinched. This is designed to give the clay oven firmness and stability. Subsequent sections are then added until the required height is attained.
Step IV: This involves the shaping of the last section on top, widely known in the international segment as ‘The Mouth’ which is turned in wards by hand and shaped like the upper part of a pitcher. A lot of buyers overseas have asked me weather a turning machine “like those in wood working’ is used to make these mouths.
Step V: The last step before the clay pots are dired in the open air is to lock the rim around the mouth with a tensile steel belt using the tensioning mechanism. To further increase the strength of the clay pot specially made jute wrapping is applied on the outside. This helps in the wear and tear of the clay pot while packing or fitting.
The clay oven is now complete but it is still not a complete Tandoor till it is fitted in the earth or a metal container or even in a counter at a restaurant & treated by the head chef ‘Tandooria’
A Peshawar refinement
Although Persians can claim the design of the tandoor, 19th century cooks in the northwest Indian city of Peshawar (now in Pakistan) are responsible for its legendary versatility. They came up with the idea of using the tandoor for cooking meats, fabricating thin metal spikes for holding the food.
That brainstorm proved simple and practical: Small whole chickens and chunks of lamb, marinated in a spice-laced (but not chile-hot) yogurt mixture and brushed with ghee (clarified butter), are threaded onto long iron skewers. They are then lowered into the tandoor, with the pointed ends resting in the glowing coals and the tops leaning against the oven’s neck. Every now and again the skewers are pulled out, the foods are brushed with a little ghee and/or marinade, and then the skewers are returned to the tandoor. This inspired technique yields a flavor bonus: The food absorbs both the subtle earthy scent naturally released by the clay and the wisps of fragrant smoke created by errant drops of marinade falling onto white-hot coals.
An order of tandoori murg (chicken) and nan, accompanied by lemon or lime wedges, onion slices and achar (pickles) and/or chutney, is still arguably the most popular tandoori meal, with boti kebab (lamb cubes) a close second. But the clay oven repertoire, both in India and in its culinary outposts, has expanded considerably since those early days. Seekh kabob (minced lamb or chicken), bara kabob (strips of lamb loin) and tikka kabob (lamb, fish or chicken chunks) regularly show up on tandoori menus.
Fish tandoori, in particular, is an innovation that tradition-bound tandoori cooks turn up their noses at, declaring it a radical – and unacceptable – departure. Not surprisingly, it was created by coastal cooks to satisfy the seaside palates of Bombay and Calcutta.