If you love Indian cuisine, you cannot miss out on the taste and tradition of tandoor, especially its smoky flavours. A tandoor is an oven that perfectly cooks meats, flatbreads and other dishes with a smoked finish, thus creating a world of various grilled dishes! Come on a trip full of flavour as we discover the magic of tandoor cooking.
Also read 5 Benefits Of Tandoori Cuisine
Tandoor is an ancient technique that includes a cylindrical oven fuelled by wood or charcoal. Specially trained chefs and experts handle hot tandoors where the dishes are cooked to perfection every single day across dhabas and eateries in India. Even after being such an intricate and risky technique, the process is still alive because of its flavours. An integral part of Indian cuisine, tandoori delights are now famous around the world.
Here are some of the renowned tandoori delights that you must not miss out on.
Historical Background of Tandoor
The heritage of using Tandoors or cylindrical clay/metal ovens in culinary technique dates back a thousand years in the Indian subcontinent. The method is believed to have originated during the Indus Valley Civilization, one of the oldest recorded human civilisations, to bake bread and cook certain dishes. With the influence of the Mughals in India, the use of tandoors expanded and created the renowned tandoori dishes of India that are now popular around the world. The flavours of tandoori cuisine are unique due to its smoking and charring techniques.
Video Credit: Youtube/Sanjeev Kapoor Khazana
Mystery Behind Marination
In most of the Indian cuisines and especially tandoori food, marination plays a highly integral part. It is a culinary alchemy where the primary ingredient transforms under the spell of various aromatic spices, herbs, and liquid elements. During this culinary ritual of marination, flavours meld and penetrate the ingredients, enhancing taste and tenderness. The main ingredients that go under the marinating process are meats, paneer, fish, vegetables, and tofu to infuse the flavours of spices and herbs, yoghurt, lemon, ginger-garlic, etc. This whole process of marination is crucial to give that divine experience.
8 Must Try Tandoori Delights
Here are the top tandoori delicacies that you must try once in your life.
1. Tandoori Chicken
The famous Indian dish Tandoori Chicken, with its distinctive smoked taste, is among the most popular foods worldwide. The chicken is first marinated with yoghurt mixed with cumin, coriander, and garam masala. They are pierced through the skewer and cooked in a tandoor until well-cooked and infused with smokiness and a soft yet charred feel. It is traditional in India and popular worldwide because of its hearty flavour.
2. Tandoori Paneer
Tandoori Paneer is a well-liked Indian vegetarian speciality, and here, the fresh paneer cubes are bathed in a hot-and-spicy yoghurt batter. The marinated paneer along with onions and capsicum are threaded on a skewer and baked in tandoor, the Indian clay oven until it is crispy, blackened and aromatic. This makes a delicious, tangy, soft paneer suitable for eating as a starter or with naans and rotis as a main course.
3. Tandoori Naan
Tandoori naan is a soft, oven-baked Indian flatbread usually cooked in a tandoor oven. It is prepared using a typical dough of wheat flour, salt and some leavening agent like yoghurt or natural yeast. The cooking process results in the outer surface that is slightly crisp and interiors that are soft and squishy inside. It is a common Indian bread for scooping goodies like curries and other dishes.
4. Tandoori Chai
The tandoori chai is an exceptional addition to the world of drinks and brings together the sweet scent of traditional Indian tea with the attractive smokiness of the tandoor grill oven. This is a robust and aromatic chai brewed over an open fire and infused with spices. The tea is then poured into hot earthenware fresh off the tandoor, infused with smokiness, strained and served. You should try this one if you are looking for something new in tea.
5. Fish Tikka
The fish tikka has this irresistible and delicious taste characteristic of Indian food. The fish is fresh, mostly put into a mix of yoghurt with spices, and then skewered and roasted in a tandoori fire or on the barbecue. This results in a tender yet smoky fish, which is delicately charred on the outside and offers a fantastic mixing between taste and texture. Any lover of exotic seafood flavours cannot fail here.
The kulcha, a popular North Indian flatbread, has become famous for its soft and spongy nature. Usually made with refined flour flour and yoghurt that gives it a slight tang, kulchas are also often infused with garlic, onions and other flavours. Cumin and coriander are among the fragrant spices that are usually adorned on it before baking it in a tandoor. The bread is very easy to serve alongside different Indian curry dishes or chutney.
Video Credits: YouTube/Sanjeev Kapoor Khazana
7. Malai Tikka
Malai tikka is a very delicious Indian dish with marinated hung curd and spices. It is a mixture of cream, yoghurt and aromatic spice applied over succulent chunks of meat or paneer (cottage cheese). This results in a smoky flavour with a tender texture. Malai tikka is a popular dish that is usually eaten with mint sauce and bread and is considered ideal for those who want to have something creamy and rich.
8. Tandoori Soya Chaap
The appetising vegetarian delicacy, Tandoori Soya Chaap, is quite popular among vegans and vegetarians. Soya chaap cooked with yoghurt and spice aromas is the perfect example of tandoori cooking and is served with chutney and salad. The end product is an appetising charred and juicy starter that’s smoky and chewy inside. You can also pair this one with parathas and naans if you like.