A tandoor (Sanskrit: कन्दु, Arabic: , Persian: تنور, Turkish: tandır, Urdu: تندور, Armenian: Թոնիր, Azerbaijani: təndir, Hindi: तन्दूर, Bengali: তন্দূর, Georgian: თონე, Punjabi: ਤੰਦੂਰ, Uyghur: تونۇر/tonur, Chinese: 馕坑) is a cylindrical clay or metal oven used in cooking and baking. The tandoor is used for cooking in Southern, Central and Western Asia, as well as in the Caucasus.
The heat for a tandoor was traditionally generated by a charcoal or wood fire, burning within the tandoor itself, thus exposing the food to live-fire, radiant heat cooking, and hot-air, convection cooking, and smoking by the fat and food juices that drip on to the charcoal. Temperatures in a tandoor can approach 480 °C (900 °F), and it is common for tandoor ovens to remain lit for long periods to maintain the high cooking temperature. The tandoor design is something of a transitional form between a makeshift earth oven and the horizontal-plan masonry oven.
From ancient times till now the Tonir was worshiped by the Armenians like other sun symbols and it is known as a symbol of Sun in the ground.
Ancient Armenians made tonirs in resemblance with the setting sun “going into the ground” (Sun being the main deity). The underground, clay Tonir is one of the first tools of Armenian cuisine, as an oven and as a thermal treatment tool. Everything that is made in pots and in tonirs has Armenian origin, but only Armenians had underground tonirs. It isn’t accidentally that the secret of the special taste of Armenian dishes /Kashika, Kchakhash, BBQ-Xorovats, Khorvu, Fish, Gata, Lavash/ cooked in a tonir is hidden there, where the food is made. Other nations have borrowed the Tonir from Armenians and are using it nowadays, but only Armenians are aware of the ritual meaning of the Tonir. Armenians were already using the tonir thousand years ago. In the stage of sunworshipping, the Tonir is considered to be the symbol of sun on the earth. Pagan Armenians have similared tonir with sunset. Every time Armenian women are baking bread or preparing food, they bent down before the Tonir, which also meant worship for deity.
Unlike other people, who also may have something like the Tonir to bake bread, the Armenian Tonir has been used for different purposes. The Armenians cooked meals in the Tonir, they used the Tonir to heat the house, moreover, it was perfect for medical purposes, for example, to warm and cure the sick and afficted. Obviously, the traditional tonir has a great medicinal effect. In ancient times it has been situated in the center of the house, which was symbolizing the permanent providing of sun heat in the house. They were putting “kursi” on the Tonir, were covering it with a carpet and they were putting their feet under the ”kursi” in cold days. The Tonir had also a non bacterial effect, as they have used the cow’s dung, as a fuel, which has been famous for its medicinal traits since ancient times.
Formerly, the Tonir hasn’t only an impotant meaning in Armenian cuisine, but also in lifestyle. In traditional families the Tonir has always been identified with “home”. It is no secret, that in ancient times Armenian families have lived under one single roof, where, as a rule, in the center of the large room was a Tonir. It was the base of the Armenian family, where they were not only baking bread and preparing food, but also proceeded Armenian family’s life in good, old times around it. They were marrying, baptizing a child and even healing near the Tonir. The members of the family were gathering around it at dinner time, or during the parties and the rest. In the Armenian Highlands they have baked bread 3-2 milleniums before the birth of Christ. That confirms the clay ovens (tonir) and the relics of bread, which have been discovered in a variety of old places. During the excavations of Artashat city, Armenia, there have been discovered tonirs of that same period.
Though the rules of lifestyle have changed in time, the custom of baking Lavash, bread, gata and making a lot of food in a Tonir has remained unbreakable.
Smoke of tonir is continuing to stay the symbol of peace, unification and strengthening of Armenian family and home.
Since 2012 “Tonraton” – the Food Festival has been held in Armenia. On August 11, for the Navasard holiday (the old Armenian “New Year”, which was dedicated to Armenian pagan gods), featuring dishes cooked in this forefather of the modern oven.
The word tonir is used in various languages like Dari words tandūr and tannūr; these are derived from very similar terms, viz. Persian tanūr (تنور), Armenian t’onir (Թոնիր), Arabic tannūr (تنّور), Hebrew (תנור) e.g. in Leviticus 2:4 Turkish tandır, Uzbek tandir, Azeri təndir and Kurdish tendûr. However, according to Dehkhoda Persian Dictionary, the word originates from Akkadian tinûru "tin" means mud and nuro/nura means fire, and is mentioned as early as in the Akkadian Epic of Gilgames (as reflexed by Avestan tanûra and Pahlavi tanûr). As such, tandoor may have originated from Semitic. In Sanskrit, the tandoor was referred to as kandu.
Tandoor cooked dishes
Roasted Cashews, corn and cottage cheese paste marinated in spiced thick cream grilled in Tandoor.
Achaari Khumb ke Soole
Mushrooms marinated in pickled yoghurt and jodhpuri spices grilled in Tandoor.
Potatoes stuffed with cottage cheese, vegetables and cashew nuts, roasted in Tandoor.
Tandoori chicken is a roasted chicken delicacy that originated in Punjab region of India and Pakistan. In India, tandoori cooking was traditionally associated with Punjab as Punjabis embraced the tandoor on a regional level and became popular in the mainstream after the 1947 partition when Punjabis resettled in places such as Delhi. In rural Punjab, it was common to have communal tandoors. Some villages still have a communal tandoor which was a common sight prior to 1947.
The chicken is marinated in yogurt marinade seasoned with garam masala, garlic, ginger, cumin, cayenne pepper, and other spices depending on the recipe. In hot versions of the dish, cayenne, red chili powder, or other spices give the typical red color; in milder versions, food coloring is used. Turmeric produces a yellow-orange color. It is traditionally cooked at high temperatures in an earthen oven (i.e. tandoor), but can also be prepared on a traditional grill.
Chicken tikka (Urdu: مرغ تکہ ; Hindi: मुर्ग़ टिक्का; murgh tikka) is a dish from Mughlai cuisine made by grilling small pieces of chicken which have been marinated in spices and yogurt. It is traditionally cooked on skewers in a tandoor and is usually boneless. It is normally served and eaten with a green coriander chutney, or used in preparing the curry chicken tikka masala.
Kalmi kabab, a popular snack in South Asian cuisine, is made by marinating chicken drumsticks and placing them in a tandoor. Various freshly ground spices are added to the yogurt to form a marinade for the chicken. Traditionally, the marinaded chicken is given 12 hours at the least. When prepared, the drumsticks are usually garnished with mint leaves and served with laccha (finely sliced half moons, with a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt) onions.
Samosa is a stuffed snack consisting of a fried or baked triangular, semilunar or tetrahedral pastry shell with a savory filling, which may include spiced potatoes, onions, peas, coriander, and lentils, or ground lamb or chicken. The size and shape of a samosa, as well as the consistency of the pastry used, can vary considerably. In some regions of Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan) samosas are typically baked in a tandoor, while they are usually fried elsewhere.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tandoor.|
- Curry Club Tandoori and Tikka Dishes, Piatkus, London — ISBN 0-7499-1283-9 (1993)
- Curry Club 100 Favourite Tandoori Recipes, Piatkus, London — ISBN 07499149 & ISBN 0-7499-1741-5 (1995)
- India: Food & Cooking, New Holland, London — ISBN 978-1-84537-619-2 (2007)
- Raichlen, Steven (2011-05-10). "A Tandoor Oven Brings India's Heat to the Backyard". The New York Times.
- Raichlen, Steven (2011-05-10). "A Tandoori Oven brings India's heat to the backyard". New York Times. Retrieved 5/9/11.
- Leviticus 2:4
- "Metro Plus Delhi / Food : A plateful of grain". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 2008-11-24. Retrieved 2009-05-07.
-  The Rough Guide to Rajasthan, Delhi and Agra By Daniel Jacobs, Gavin Thomas
- Alop Ho Reha Punjabi Virsa Harkesh Singh Kehal
- Pind Diyan Gallian PTC Channel - Bilga (Jalandhar) has a communal Tandoor also known as tadoor in Punjabi
- For instance, see the recipe in Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cookery pp66-69