Tandoor Oven India

Tandoor – The Ancient Clay Oven

If Italy has its wood-fired brick ovens and Pizza, India has its Tandoor and Tandoori style of cooking. Charred, smoky flavours mark the essence of India’s Tandoori food which originated in its north and northwestern region, now a pan-India and global favourite.

Just like the brick ovens excavated in Pompeii, also the birthplace of Pizza, the Tandoor was found amongst the ruins of the Indus Valley, a Bronze Age Civilisation thus making it an ancient culinary technique. Mesopotamians and ancient Egyptians also used it in different forms. The modern-day Tandoor of India as we know it, however, came with the Mughals. During the reign of Jahangir, a portable version of the Tandoor clay oven was invented to satiate the need of the emperor to be served Tandoori food wherever he travelled.

The importance of the Tandoor, however, goes beyond a simple cooking technique in Sikh history where it was propagated as a community cooking equipment (Sanjha Chulha) to maintain goodwill and remove class and caste barriers. It also served as a place for women to gather, talk, and exchange stories. Lovleen Sagar from our Destination Knowledge Centre saw something similar along the lines of the Sanja Chulha during her recent trip to Morocco.

So next time you are on a holiday in India don’t forget to order the succulent smoky Tandoori chicken. There are excellent varieties of vegetarian Tandoori fare too.

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