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Tandoor Success!

September 5, 2012

Over the long weekend I took apart the tandoor to make the whole thing a bit more permanent.  I bought a bunch of firebricks and cut them to make a nice flat floor.  Next I cut a second layer of bricks to make a ring with an opening facing the lower air vent/ash clean-out.  I cut a piece of metal out of an electric stove burner base to make a sort of “bridge” over the gap.  You can see the whole mess dry fit in the picture below.


After I was pretty sure everything would fit nicely, I put down a bottom layer of grout and bedded the brick in it and used my insanely bad masonry skills to lay the second layer on top and fill in the gaps between the bricks.  All I am going to say about this is, I will not every try to do masonry for anything anyone will ever see.  A thick layer of grout then went on top of everything including the metal “bridge”.


The lower flower pot that forms the bottom of the tandoor then went on top of this mess effectively grouting it in place.  Next the inverted, upper flower pot went on top and perlite poured around to insulate everything.  Finally, I put aluminum foil on top to keep the perlite from blowing away, but would like to come up with a more permanent and cleanable solution for the top.

After letting the grout cure for 24 hours I grew impatient and decided to light a small fire to start drying everything out.  I let the fire go for about 6 hours slowly building it up until by dinner time it was ready to cook in.

I had some paneer marinating and a friend brought over some chicken he had been marinating so we were ready to cook!

The paneer was going into a masala sauce so it was cooked first, the picture below shows it just as it went into the tandoor.


After about five or ten minutes it was charring on the edges and looking absolutely amazing.  Unfortunately I was too hungry to take pictures (sorry!).  Next the chicken went in and I started baking naan.

The naan took a bit of work to master but once I figured out the technique of slapping the dough onto the inside of the tandoor with a gaddi (basically a cotton cloth pad slightly wetted) I was getting every single naan to stick and puff up perfectly.  I also bought a pair of bread seekhs which are tools for removing the naan from inside the oven.  One seekh is sharp and is used to basically spear the naan while the other seekh is hammered flat kind of like a spatula and is used to scrape the naan off the wall of the tandoor.  These bread seekhs are pretty important to not losing your naan in the fire below!

Anyway, as you can see the bread and chicken cooked happily together and we had a delicious feast which we plan to make again tonight.  This time I will try to convince Alexandra to take some video of me putting in and taking out the naan.

In other, non-tandoor related news.  The deck is still slowly inching toward completion.  The weather has been extremely inhospitable towards working with highs near 100 and a lot of humidity considering we are supposed to be in an arid climate.  In fact the weather has been very odd lately including some rain!

The picture below shows where the deck is now, basically all the decking boards are on, bench is done.  Now I just need to put collars around the base of the bench legs to help stabilize them a bit and put redwood rim boards on everything to make everything look nice and finished.  Then we will be on to staining!  Speaking of stain…

While I was working on the deck Alexandra decided the planter boxes that the bamboo are in were looking a bit decrepit so she decided to wash and re-stain them.

As usual she did a beautiful job and they now look like new again!

Hopefully the deck will be stained very soon as well and then it will be back to the front porch to finish the pillars and maybe start painting!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 18, 2012 7:05 AM

    I’m interested in your tandoor and am thinking of making one to your design. Do you cover it with anything while you are cooking?

    • November 19, 2012 9:19 AM

      Thanks for your interest! I use the cut off bottom of my flower pot for a lid when cooking things on skewers, just use some baling wire similar to fashion a handle through the drain hole. You won’t need a lid when cooking naan since they cook so fast. Some other things I’ve learned through the much practice:

      1) Get naan bread tools either online ( or from a local indian grocery store (if you have one) or if you know anyone that knows a bit of metal work they can make them for you pretty easily. Also, make yourself a gaddi, this is the pad you use to put the naan in the tandoor. They are really easy to make, just get two 3’x3′ pieces of cheese cloth or a couple old t-shirts and basically fold one into a thick pad a little bigger than your hand then wrap the other around it and tie the corners together behind. This video shows using a gaddi and naan tools really well:

      2) Get good skewers, the internet is again your friend here. I recommend a variety of round and square skewers as you will find you will need each sometimes. This set even comes with bread tools:

      3) On cooking with your tandoor. You will end up with a lot of bread falling into the bottom of your tandoor at first, don’t give up. Your gaddi has to be a little wet but not too wet, and the bread has to be a little wet on the side that sticks to the tandoor. Then you have to slap it to the inside with just the right amount of force. It takes practice. I made about 30 naan and lost about half of them. Next time I made another 30 and only lost 5. Now I still lose one or two, but not very often. Cooking things on skewers is both hard and easy. First, always put half an onion or half a potato on the bottom of your skewers to protect the food and stop it from slipping down the skewer. Second, the bottom and top of the skewer are generally hotter than the middle.

      Sorry, for the long reply to a short question, let me know how it goes and if you need any more help! Check out our latest blog entry on a DIY pit smoker that can smoke a whole pig, a dozen or two racks of ribs, or a whole goat!

  2. July 11, 2015 3:36 AM

    Nice job – your tandoor looks great. I just found this page when looking how to make a gaddi to use with my flowerpot tandoor. Nothing beats tandoori chicken with homemade naan! I think for now I’ll use a scrunched up tea towel tied in another tea towel. Interesting that there is a tool specifically for getting the cooked naan off. I might have to buy one of those, thanks for posting.

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