Tandoori Chicken, MalaiTikka, AmritsariKulcha, Naan….
What is the one thing that makes all of them irresistible?
The answer is in the char and the smokiness that comes from the clay oven, yours and only one the Tandoor.
Tandoor came to India with the Mughal rulers and became an inseparable part of north Indian cooking. The genius technique of roasting and cooking was founded by the nomadic tribes in the Steppes of Central Asia. Originally this treasure was devised for making bread but with the evolution of culinary art and craft, led to its extraordinary uses. Eventually, the tandoor became an ideal cooking technique for roasting meat and fish because of the direct and high searing heat plus the moisture-retaining properties. Today the chefs in the best non-veg restaurants of Amritsar consider the simple clay oven to be one of the most popular cooking methods in India.
Despite the archaic foundation and utter humbleness, the tandoor produces absolutely sophisticated delicacies. Because of the presence of clay, the tandoor renders complex and smoky flavors to meats and the flour. Hence, we can enjoy the smoky and succulent dishes like Seekh kebabs and stuffed tandoori kulchas at the most famous family restaurants in Amritsar.
So, let’s understand the magic of this humble tandoor. The cooking in the tandoor employs many distinct layers. The tandoor cooking is not as simple as the Tandoor itself. The cooking style involves management and technique to keep the food juicy and moist as the direct intense heat from extreme temperatures can make the food dry especially the meats.
This is how the process works- The process is similar to grilling. However, the heat comes directly from the charcoal at the base of the clay oven. The hot clay walls are ideal for baking bread like the Tandoori roti and Paranthas. It’s quite fascinating to see how the expert hands stick rotis in the fuming sides of the Tandoor and not everyone has that art.
After the walls, it’s the mystical belly of the tandoor produces some of the best meaty delicacies. Tandoor roasting enhances the taste of the food with the smoke. When the marinade, seasoning and meat juices drip onto fuming coals, comes out the most fragrant smoke that adds the aroma and flavor to the food.
Just think about your favorite authentic chicken corner in Amritsar and you will be able to visualize the marinated meat or fish skewers suspended on top of the Tandoors and instantly that aroma will capture your taste buds. The thought of this aroma takes me to my favorite restaurant at Green Avenue, Bemisaal and I can already savor the taste of their irresistible Tandoori chicken.
The tandoor meats prepared by experts are extremely juicy and succulent as compared to modern cooking techniques. In addition, what makes tandoori dishes irresistible is the special earthiness infused with the clay lining of the oven.
What are you waiting for? Head out now and devour these delicate and complex flavors.