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Tandoori Cooking Without The Tandoor

The tandoor oven is central to traditional North Indian cuisine, and many breads and meals were developed specifically for these clay ovens. Paratha, naan, kulcha, roti, and other enticing breads; tandoori lamb chops, chicken tikka, tandoori chicken, seekh kabab, tandoori prawns, reshmi kabab, and many other meals; all prepared in a traditional clay oven. However, only a select handful of us can boast having our very own tandoor at home these days. In this piece, we’ll take a look at some alternate methods of preparing tandoori-style dishes.

Tandoori Cooking

The shape of the clay oven is what gives tandoori cuisine its signature smokey flavour. Traditionally, a tandoor’s heat comes from a bed of glowing coals at the bottom (which has a similar shape to a pot-belly stove). The tandoor’s characteristic flavour comes from the smoke it generates as the juices from the food being cooked within drip down onto the hot coals below.

It’s not easy to locate a substitute for a tandoor, but there are several possibilities. Barbecues may be rather delicious, especially when the meal is cooked over a grill that allows the juices to drip directly onto the heat source (be it a gas flame or charcoal). There isn’t quite the same impact as the tandoor, but the resulting flavour is very close.

To prepare ‘tandoori’ food, you could use a regular oven. The oven is similar to the tandoor in that it is an enclosed room where heat is contained, but it does not create the distinctive smokey flavour of authentic tandoori cooking. When a tandoor is not available, this method is the greatest replacement for cooking tandoori breads (naan, roti, kulcha, etc.) due to the bread being encased in heat.

Even though grilling is conceptually the opposite of tandoori cooking, it may be utilised to make lamb chops and chicken tikka. Unlike an oven, a grill has no roof to keep the heat in and instead uses horizontal bars or coils to cook food. Still, delicious cooking is possible. When time is of the essence, use the grill (ie when the barbecue is not an option).


If you want to cook North Indian food but don’t have a tandoor, a charcoal barbeque is the next best thing. But tandoors are now much simpler to get in the West, so if tandoori-style food is a regular feature on your menu, it may be well worth the expense.


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