Have you ever wondered where the word 'tandoori' comes from? A tandoor is a cylindrical clay oven used to cook and bake a variety of dishes in Asia. Any dish cooked in such an oven is called tandoori. 'Tandoor' is derived from Akkadian 'tinuru', 'tin' meaning mud and nuro meaning fire. This is because the heat for a tandoor is traditionally generated by charcoal fire or wood fire at its base. The food inside a tandoor is therefore exposed to live fire, radiant heat, hot-air convection and most importantly smoke that contains volatile compounds from the fat and juices that drip on to the charcoal, imparting a distinct flavour to food that is cooked this way.
The oldest examples of these ovens were found in the ruins of Harappa & Mohenjo Daro (Present day Pakistan and Western India) where it is believed that they were largely used to cook meat. As the Aryans moved south-ward, where the food was predominantly vegetarian, tandoors were used to bake bread. These tandoors were dug into the earth rather than constructed above it.
We have to thank the Mughals for inventing portable tandoors. Jahangir, in particular was immensely fond of tandoori food and both tandoori chicken and naan originated during his reign. The tandoors in picture were being made using diesel drums as a moulds.
Happy world food day, everybody. I just wanted to spend it reading about my favourite cuisine.
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