When the sun sets at 8:30 p.m. and you trade your turtleneck for a tank top, it can only mean one thing: Summer is finally here! With the new season comes a renewed appreciation for all things barbecue. But before you break out the grill and start flipping burgers, you may want to consider trying your hand at tandoori cooking techniques.
Tandoori cooking is an ancient culinary art form that uses a unique oven to perfectly cook meats and vegetables. While this cooking style dates back more than 5,000 years, the western world has yet to embrace all of the wonderful benefits that tandoor ovens have to offer. Once you learn about all the flavor you’ve been missing out on with traditional barbecue, you’ll wonder how you made it this long without a Hōmdoor oven to call your own.
What is a Tandoor Oven?
Tandoor ovens have been in use for thousands of years, with their origins reaching back to the Indus Valley and Harappan civilizations of ancient India. However, tandoori cookery didn’t make it to mainstream popularity until after 1947 when India was partitioned and Pakistan was formed. Following that, Punjabi refugees fled from Pakistan bringing tandoors along with them. These clay, belly-shaped ovens use burning charcoal at the bottom to super-heat the inside. In fact, the inside of a tandoor can easily reach up to 900º F.
The tandoor oven’s unique design acts as a grill, convection oven, and smoker. Bottom burning charcoals help radiantly heat food like a standard grill while the clay walls retain moisture and circulate moist heat like a convection oven. As the meat and vegetable juices drip down onto the charcoals, smoke rises to add an authentic, delicious flavor that leaves your mouth watering. Because tandoors are made out of clay, they can be easily used to cook homemade naan, sticking the dough to the inside of the oven to quickly cook the Indian-style bread.
What Makes Tandoori Cooking Different from BBQ?
While barbecue has long been an American summer staple, traditional grilling techniques fail to lock in the juices and flavor profiles that can be easily achieved through tandoori cooking. The differences between a tandoor and a standard grill in cooking style, design, heating capacity, and function can completely alter what you ultimately bring to the table. Below are just some of the main differences between traditional grilling and tandoori cooking:
- Style: When using a standard grill, pitmasters must cook food horizontally as they would on a stove or in a standard oven. Meats and vegetables must be flipped in order to cook evenly on each side. Tandoors, however, are cylindrical in design, requiring chefs to cook vertically by skewering meats and vegetables and sticking them into the oven from the top down. Heat circulates and cooks the food to perfection without the need for flipping or removing food from the heat source. Simply place in the skewers, wait the appropriate time, and remove to serve!
- Design: A standard grill is typically constructed from metal, offering propane, charcoal, or wood chips as its main heating source. By contrast, tandoors are created from clay and have a round opening at the top where skewered meat and vegetables are placed to cook. Its cylindrical shape helps circulate heat and retain moisture while cooking.
- Heat: Most grills can reach a maximum heat of around 550º F while tandoor ovens can easily reach 900º F. The super-heating capabilities of a tandoor help quickly char foods to lock in their juices and flavors while the constant flipping and easy escape of heat in a standard grill can end up drying out your meal. However, tandoors can also utilize low-and-slow cooking methods, allowing meats and vegetables to soak up the smoky flavor that characterizes tandoori meals while still locking in juices for a tender, delicious meal.
- Function: Standard grills usually only operate in one way, with more elaborate configurations featuring add-ons like smokers. Tandoor ovens, on the other hand, operate as a grill, convection oven, and smoker all in one, delivering superior flavor with every bite.
Tandoor ovens also offer a great way to cook together. While standard grills are typically handled by one person, tandoors make for great entertaining as your guests try their hand at skewering and cooking their own delicious treats!
Get Your Grill on with Hōmdoor
Hōmdoor’s innovative tandoors are exactly what you need to enhance the flavors of summer. Sourced and created right here in the United States, Hōmdoor brings authentic Indian cuisine right to the comfort of your own backyard. With a Hōmdoor by your side, your next barbecue is sure to be a hit! Grab yours online and get your grill on today.