Types of Tandoor
In a layman’s parlance tandoor is clay oven with a hole in the bottom. The hole is used for adding and removing fuel .Typically, a special type of clay along with shredded coir rope is used to prepare the oven. To solidify the oven a special paste of mustard oil, jaggery, yoghurt and ground spinach is rubbed inside the oven. The history of tandoor indeed goes back to Arab countries from where it has spread to India and finally to western countries. The word tandoor has been derived from Babylonian word ‘tinuru’ from the Semitic word ‘nar’ meaning fire. Arabic then made it tannur and then Turkey and Central Asia made it tandoor. In ancient times there were only clay tandoor but now a days, there are different types of tandoor as discussed below.
Square tandoor is commonly used by all restaurants across the world in their kitchen. To make square tandoor, first Stainless Steel Square Box is made and given smooth finish around edges. After box is made, clay pot is installed inside the box and remaining space is covered with Fiber Blanket and Thermal Insulation to keep heat inside the clay pot.
Till 2004 most of the restaurants were using tandoors with charcoal as fuel. All cooks prefer charcoal due to unique combination of clay and charcoal in Tandoori cooking as charcoal burns slowly and keep clay pot hot for longer time.
But charcoal has its own issues like irregular supply from vendors and requires special exhaust hood in kitchen. Due to these factors, most restaurant users stopped using Charcoal as fuel and shifted to Gas Tandoors.
Gas tandoors are similar to Square tandoors and only difference is fuel which can be Natural Gas or Propane (L.P.G). Gas tandoors are fitted with burners and unique Baffle plate which sits on burners, to deflect flame of the burner, to heat up clay pot.
Gas Tandoors are as good as charcoal tandoors though some Tandoori lovers may disagree. Gas tandoors are more users friendly, easy to operate clean fuel and offer economical operating cost. Before buying Gas Tandoors, please make sure about kind of burners used, whether burner comes with Pilot Safety System and Igniter as unsafe Gas Burner installation can be dangerous. Therefore buy Gas Tandoors which are certified by recognized agencies and come with “CE “or “NSF” or “ETL” labels.
A Regular size Square tandoor is good for 60 seats Restaurant for Bread and Kebab use. If you have more seats, it is suggested to buy 2 tandoors and use 1 for Bread and other for Kebabs.
Clay pots for tandoors are prepared by hand with great care. The clay for the tandoor is available freely but cautious approach should be taken when selecting the best clay for this purpose. In Asian countries like India, clay is sourced from special locations and is cleaned and refined for making clay pot. Various additives like hay and hairs of goats & sheep’s hair are added in the clay mixture in order to give special strength as temperatures ranging upto 1000 degrees centigrade can be seen in clay pots.
In recent years, makers of tandoors in United Kingdom are making clay pot with special clay only available in few mines across the world. Though this clay is different from Indian clay, it is more pure and strong when fired. Due to these features, you will find most restaurants in UK are not using Indian clay pots and sourcing their tandoors locally. The same quality tandoors are sold in USA also for past 2 years.
In Catering/Drum Tandoor, clay pot is fitted in Steel or Stainless Steel Barrel, in a plain design with S. S. Straps tied round its top, centre and bottom for reinforcement. The pot inside the barrel is duly insulated with thermal Insulations, glass wool, rock salt and ceramic powders. A hole is there at the bottom of the drum to remove ashes .A wheel can also be attached at the bottom to move the drum from one place to another. Generally handles are provided for Lifting, Pushing and Pulling.
Most of the time, catering tandoor is used by Restaurant or caterers for On-Site cooking of Bread and Sheesh Kebab. As it is not used very often, Charcoal is preferred fuel for heating up the tandoor.
Now days, lot of customers are requesting Gas tandoors for their backyard or patio. Catering tandoor is good example of tandoor which can be used with Propane or Natural Gas due to large size.
After eating delicious food in restaurants, most of the customers want to experience same food in their homes also. To do that, there are many options.
If you plan to use tandoors during summer time for BBQ or Sheesh Kebab, you can select small Catering tandoors which are good for personal use and work on charcoal. Due to small size, these tandoors are portable and can be taken anywhere.
But if you want to use your tandoors very often, one can choose Gas Catering Tandoors or Regular sized Square Tandoors. Gas catering tandoors can be of Natural Gas or Propane and take about 25 minutes to be ready to use.
Regular Size Square tandoor is good option if you want to install tandoor in your kitchen and use it on daily basis. Please note that you need to have good quality exhaust in kitchen to use tandoor on regular basis.