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Slight Divergence…

August 28, 2012

I love cooking gadgets, and I don’t mean slap chops, pizza serving spatulas with integrated scissors, or avacado slicers and other junk that is supposed to make cooking easier.   When I say “kitchen gadgets,” I mean things like the 50 year old rotisserie (previously blogged about) that we turned into a home gyro maker.  Or my molcajete which weighs about 30 pounds, or my glorious, glorious big green egg.  These are true kitchen gadgets, things that aren’t exactly necessary and don’t come out that often (ok, the big green egg gets used a lot) but these gadgets really bring the cooking up to the next level of awesome.

So, last night, I added another gadget to our house; a home-made tandoor!  For those not in the know, a tandoor is a traditional Indian cooking vessel used to cook everything from delicious buttery naan bread to chicken tikka and tons of other dishes.

I got the basic idea for making this tandoor from various tutorials/bloggers online.  The basic idea is pretty simple – it’s a ceramic oven with an opening in the top that you stick your food in, and lots of insulation packed around that, and then something to act as an outside skin.  See my diagram below:

So, with a plan in mind, we went to the hardware store and found the necessary supplies.  When we got home, it was a pretty quick process to cut the bottom off of the “top” flower pot, drill some holes in the lower flower pot, and rig the bottom of the garbage can with some rocks and a “door” to keep ventilation going.  Then perlite was thrown in and around the pots for insulation, and in about an hour I had a tandoor!

As with any ceramic you have to heat things up very slowly as any leftover moisture can cause the ceramic to crack.  This was our test run:

I lit a small fire in the bottom and let it go for a few hours just to dry everything out.  Tonight will be the real test when I put a full load of coal in and try to make naan.  We should have more results by tomorrow.

If the tandoor works pretty well tonight, I will replace the rocks at the bottom with actual fire brick and reconfigure things slightly for easier clean out, and better ventilation.  The final version should be more permanent/stable.  Here’s hoping it works!
UPDATE: The tandoor worked great!  After a relatively quick learning curve I was able to keep make naan successfully about 95% of the time.  We also had some Chicken Tikka which turned out perfectly!  So, this weekend I will rebuild the tandoor and include some pictures of the build and making food!

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