The Fresh Loaf

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Tandoor Ovens--Any Information On Their Construction and Use Appreciated

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baltochef's picture
baltochef

Tandoor Ovens--Any Information On Their Construction and Use Appreciated

I have lately taken an interest in flatbreads..In that vein, I am curious to get any feedback from TFL members, especially those that were born in, currently live in, or have lived in those countries in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East where tandoor oven are used to bake flatbreads..Tell me anything..Their sizes, how they are constructed, how long they last, what type of fuel they use, the tools used to apply and retrieve the breads from their hot walls, and what types of breads thet you have experience baking in a tandoor oven..Any authentic recipes for tandoor baked breads would be highly prized..


Thanks, Bruce

rockfish42's picture
rockfish42

http://oildrumtandoor.blogspot.com/
This might come in handy, it's a blog with semi useful instructions for building your own at a decent cost.

proth5's picture
proth5

How it came to live in my backyard is a story for which the world is not yet prepared, but I have an "oil drum" tandoor that has survived unprotected in Colorado winters and summers for about 10 years.  Still works.


I did a blog entry last summer on my attempts to use it.  I'm going to paste in the url here http://www.thefreshloaf.com/blog/proth5?page=1 but if it doesn't work, just look on page 2 of proth5's blog.


There are a lot of people who do naan breads in regular ovens.  My take on it is that working with a tandoor is hot and hazardous (but kinda nifty) and if you aren't supplementing your flatbread baking with some kind of meat cooking - a bit expensive.  I have come to appreciate the ease of turning a knob and getting a hot oven.


I buy large bags of mesquite charcoal - not the briquettes, but the whole tree branch kind - and can stoke up a pretty hot fire over the course of about 3 hours.  I start by lighting a few briquettes on my regular grill, then putting them in the bottom of the tandoor, and then building up the fire with the mesquite.


I did a round of naan some years back and tried it barehanded (as I had seen tandoor cooks do in Malaysia) and I'm here to tell ya that the little tool (which I describe in my blog) is the way to go.  Here is a link to my source for this tool http://www.nishienterprise.com/Tandoor-Accessories-s/64.htm (and this same website does have a recipe for naan.)  No matter what, you are sticking your hand in an oven with very hot walls and a live fire.  I keep a large bowl of ice water nearby to handle the inevitable results.


Heavy gloves for dealing with hot coals while building the fire are a must.  One of those "point and shoot" thermometers is very helpful.


It's a fun kind of adventure and I'll probably fire the thing up a few times over the summer,  but it takes dedication.


Hope this helps

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Bruce, I came across this site today and thought it looked pretty authentic and easy to construct.


http://www.poptastic.com/tandoor.html


--Pamela

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I only have one Indian cookbook which I've owned it for probably over 20 years: Invitation to Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey. The three recipes I have made over and over again are two tandoori recipes, one for lamb and the other for chicken, and her naan. For some reason I can't locate my copy of her book (I'm hoping I wasn't stupid enough to loan it to someone, but fear that that may have happened). I did find her recipe for naan on the web here.


--Pamela

baltochef's picture
baltochef

Thanks for the responses..


I was hoping there were more folks on TFL that were from a county where tandoor ovens were used daily..


Some prolonged internet perusing today turned up this post by a man in Eugene, Oregon from January, 2009, that built a propane-fired tandoor oven using a combination of building techniques taken from the Oil Drum Tandoor Blog, the Poptastic tandoor oven site, and a third site that uses a galvanized steel garbage can as the exterior vessel instead of an oil drum, or a sawn down hot water heater..


http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/kirby/2/1231144320/tpod.html


I am giving serious though to building one for myself that will utilize a propane burner and lava rocks, instead of wood or charcoal as a heat source..What I would really like to incorporate into a backyard tandoor oven is the ability to put a concave cast iron tawa, for cooking roti flat breads, and a cast iron wok on top of the tandoor without damaging the rim..Along with a set of four locking casters so that the tandoor could be moved abour relatively easily..


I have got an absolute maximum budget of $500.00 in mind for the entire project..


It is unlikely that I will use a galvanized steel garbage can due the the possibility of the zinc galvanization heating up to the point where toxic zinc chloride and zinc oxide fumes could be released into the air around the tandoor oven..As those folks with wood-fired ovens already know it is easily possible to generate temperatures in excess of 1000F in a tandoor or pizza oven..This is more than hot enough to cause me concerns about incorporating a galvanized steel trash can into a tandoor oven..


proth5 -- Any thoughts on how you would improve the tandoor oven that you have??..


Bruce


 

proth5's picture
proth5

The wheels are definitely a good idea.  For me, given the space limitations that I have they would not be useful, but I think in general they would be great.


The finish at the top of my oven is a bit dodgey.  I would make sure that however I finished the top that it would be durable and stand up to a wok or a tawa better.


A lid with a long handle for use when the tandoor is beiung used would be nice.


I would like the ash cleanout to be large enough so that I could use a tool other than my hand.


I'd make sure I could cover the thing - which I didn't do for so long I don't see the point now. (As I said, a story for which the world is not yet prepared...)


And the propane burner would be nice, I guess, but since I like to do meats as well as breads I would miss the mesquite tang.  "Taste the heat - not the meat" (or something...)


You need to buy a set of skewers - one with a flattened end and the other with a hook.  You hold the naan with the hook and scrape the top a bit with the flattened one to remove the bread.  Don't improvise - they make a big difference. I KNOW...


I might want a large built in prep area around the tandoor as it would be nice to shape a bread as the last one bakes.  I simply don't have the room for that, but I'd like it.  And I'd like it to be very heat resistant.  I'd also like a rack to hang the meat skewers both before and after cooking. (The meat skewers have a crook on them for a reason.) That rack would have a drip tray under it and be no higher than my shoulder.


Other than that, I don't see that the structure itself is limiting - it's the skill of the operator.


The outside of my tandoor stays "relatively" cool and I have had the thing up to 900F - I don't know if that changes your thoughts about the galvanized can.  In general you want the insulation to be good enough that only the clay liner heats that hot. You are going to get very close to the outside of the tandoor when you load the naan and you really don't want it to be anywhere close to the interior temperature >Youch!<


Last summer when I was looking for advice I got a lot of inspiration on naan recipes but most folks on these pages do naan in the oven.  I hope some others can chime in, but I did work with the thing a lot last summer and learned alot.  I'm sure there is more to learn.  Hope this helps.