Friday, December 10, 2010

History of Tandoor

Tandoor Persian: تنور, Urdu: تندور, Arabic tannūr تنّور , Azeri-təndir and Kurdish-tendûr.
Hindi: तन्दूर, Bengali- তন্দূর, Armenian-Թոնիր), Punjabi: ਤੰਦੂਰ is a cylindrical clay oven used in cooking and baking. The tandoor is used for cooking in Pakistan, India, Turkey, Iran, Armenia, , Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, the Transcaucasia, the Balkans, the Middle East, Central Asia as well as Burma and Bangladesh.
Tandoor is derived from Persian (Iranian) word 'Tannur', derived from Babylonian word ‘tinuru’ based on Semitic word nar meaning fire. In Turkey, Tannur became Tandur.

4000 BC and earlier most people believe that the origins of Pakistani history and therefore the cuisine are as old as mankind itself. The oldest examples of a tandoor were found in the Harappa and Mohenjo Daro settlements of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, though earlier Tandoor type ovens have been recovered in early-Harappan contexts on the Makran coast (Balochistan).

3000 BC: At this point we see the first movement of outsiders into the country, this forms the origins of the Indus Valley Civilizations. The Mohenjo-Daro people are believed to have been pushed to the Southern Part of the country and the cuisine there is still largely vegetarian. The roots of Hinduism are shaped at this point, the Vedas or the religious texts are developed in Mahabharata. The caste system is developed, dividing food habits of people broadly by caste, for example the Brahmins for the most part were vegetarians while the Khatriyas were non-vegetarian.
But one thing was common in both castes – use of tandoor – for bread making.
Mughal Empire and the emergence of the Mughalai cuisine that people now associate with Pakistani and India cuisine. It includes the addition of several seasonings like saffron, the addition of nuts and cooking in the “Dum” or sealed pot method of cooking.
During fourteenth century, a noted poet, Amir Khusrau describes Naan-e-tanuk (light bread), and Naan-e- Tanuri (Cooked in Tandoor) at the imperial court in Delhi.

Jahangir is credited with making Tandoor portable. The cooks were instructed to transport Tandoor to anywhere he traveled. Tandoor was used to make Naan, Roast whole baby chicken and large pieces of lamb.

Tandoori chicken originated during Jahangir. Modern commercial recipe for Tandoori chicken is attributed to the original Moti Mahal restaurant in Peshawar during 19th century.

18th century British loved the general elaborate way of eating and adapted several of the food choices to their taste and developed the “curry” as a simple spice to help them cook Pakistani spices. This period resulted in the emergence of the Pakistani cuisine and the emergence of certain traditions like “high-tea” an elaborate late afternoon meal served with tea.

A Peshawar refinementIn 19th century cooks in the northwest Pakistani city of Peshawar are responsible for its legendary versatility. They came up with the idea of using the tandoor for cooking meats, fabricating thin metal spikes for holding the food.

Now a day’s most of the restaurants use natural gas, woodchips and charcoal fired Tandoor.

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. You can say the tandoor design is something of a transitional form between a makeshift earth oven and the horizontal-plan masonry oven.

The Essence of Tandoori cuisine, whole chicken and chunks of lamb, marinated in a spices, yogurt mixture and brushed with ghee (clarified butter), are threaded onto long iron skewers. then lowered into the tandoor, with the pointed ends resting in the glowing coals and the tops leaning against the oven's neck. Every now and again the skewers are pulled out, the foods are brushed with a little ghee and/or marinade, and then the skewers are returned to the tandoor. This inspired technique yields a flavor bonus. The food absorbs both the subtle earthy scent naturally released by the clay and the wisps of fragrant smoke created by errant drops of marinade falling onto red-hot coals.

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