Tandoori: A Recipe or A Way of Cooking?

Smoky and Spicy Tandoori

You must have sometime dined on tandoori chicken or tandoori lamb. It has that smoky, burnt flavor attached to the meat that has been soaked previously in a strong mixture. Again, it is actually marinated meat cooked over an intense fire using, what else, but a tandoor. A tandoor is a clay oven in which a hot fire is built. Marinated meats are lowered into the oven on long metal skewers and cooked in this smoky and extremely fiery inferno until done. The heat comes from the charcoal or wood fire and the food is cooked by radiant heat, hot air, convection cooking and smoking. It is common for tandoor ovens to remain lit for long hours in order to maintain the high temperature.

Ancient Armenians cook their meats this way, in underground tonirs made out of clay. The Afghan tandoor sits above the ground and is made of bricks. Punjabi tandoors of the Indian subcontinent are also made of clay and is a bell-shaped oven, which can either be set under the earth and fired with wood or charcoal reaching temperatures of 480 degrees Celsius, or rest above the ground.

Some tandoor-cooked dishes are flatbread, roasted cashews, corn and cottage cheese paste stuffed potatoes, chicken and chicken tikka, kalmi kabab, and somosa. Tandoori marinade is made out of yogurt with its natural acidity and thick consistency. The meat is marinated and rubbed with a great combination of spices and produces the striking red color if ground annatto seeds are used; yellow if saffron or ordinary turmeric powder is used. Other traditional flavors come from ginger, garlic, coriander powder, cayenne pepper, and garam masala, a mix of spices.

Like many great dishes, tandoori is actually a cooking method that has become synonymous with the food that is prepared. If you’re having tandoori chicken, then you know how it has been cooked.

Perfect Tandoori in Bellevue

Want to eat tandoori dishes but don’t have the tandoori oven? Your backyard grill might do the same job as well. Or better, why not drop by MokSha, your Bellevue Indian restaurant and dine on perfect tandoori sizzlers and kebabs. We roast our dishes at 500 degrees F in the direct heat of a traditional tandoori oven, served on a pepper and onion salad. It doesn’t get any better than that.