Chicken Tikka Masala has long been a firm favourite amongst Brits when dining in our favourite Indian restaurants or ordering takeaways.
With the rise in popularity of Indian dishes in a greater diversity than ever before, it is worth looking into what makes tandoor so popular and how the Great British public started their love affair with this delectable cuisine.
What Is Tandoori?
Tandoori style food is cooked in a specific way using a tandoor. Tandoori is related to the food cooked in the tandoor before marinating in dahi (yoghurt) and tandoori masala, a blend of spices.
The Origins of the Tandoor
Tandoori cooking originated in the Indus valley of ancient India, five thousand years ago, with the Harappan civilisations in the Indus valley. In addition to the Indian subcontinent, it has been revealed that individuals in West and Central Asia cook their food in a tandoor oven. This type of clay oven was discovered in the ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilisations.
Heat is generated in traditional tandoor ovens by burning wood or charcoal. The amount of oxygen that enters the pit then regulates the temperature of the pit. Opening and closing a small window at the bottom of the tandoor is the method used to achieve this.
Tandoors can reach temperatures of up to an incredible 4600C (860 °F) on their inside walls. The ovens must be kept lit for extended periods of time to maintain their high cooking temperatures.
Meats are marinated in spices and yoghurt in the tandoor before being threaded onto skewers and baked vertically in the oven. Breads are also cooked in the tandoor with naan dough placed on the inside walls where it cooks very quickly and achieves its iconic burnished flavour.
Modern Tandoors and Tandoori Cooking
Tandoori cookery first became popular in Delhi in 1947, when Punjabi refugees brought the tandoor oven from their homeland.
Almost everyone in India eventually learned about tandoori chicken and other meals cooked using this way of cooking as this cuisine gained popularity in the country.
Older tandoors, which were built into the ground and heated with charcoal wood, can still be found in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, where they are still in use. Communal tandoors are still used in several areas of Punjab today.
In addition to the classic clay frame, Tandoors are now available in various variations, some of which are made of metal and others which are elevated above the ground.
Additionally, portable electric tandoors, comparable to electric ovens, are now seen in many families. Cooking in tandoors has become more accessible as a result of this evolution.
Although many food fans feel that this style of the oven produces the same earthy flavours as clay tandoors heated with charcoal, this is not universally agreed upon
Origins of Tandoori Style Cuisine
Before the partition of India, Punjab was home to tandoori chicken. During the late 1940s, Punjabi Hindus Kundan Lal Jaggi and Kundan Lal Gujral popularised tandoori chicken at Moti Mahal in Daryaganj, New Delhi. Mokha Singh had built the restaurant in British India’s Peshawar region, now part of neighbouring Pakistan.
Tandoori chicken is one of the most popular tandoori dishes, although there are many fish and meats alike that can be cooked in this style.
In the 1960s, Tandoor Chicken started appearing on US menus and became a hugely popular dish worldwide.
Why Is Tandoori So Popular in Britain?
Now you know about how tandoori meals are made, there is little to wonder as to its popularity in the UK. Indian restaurants are a familiar sight in cities and towns across the UK, including Cardiff, where Purple Poppadom is based.
The Great British public can’t seem to get enough of them, from the ever-popular chicken tikka to the wide range of curry on offer. With mouth-watering flavours and exotic food combinations, Indian food affords their palettes.
With many positive benefits, what’s not to love! Indian food is so rich in flavour that the smell alone from cooking the food is enough to drive your tastebuds wild, and the fact that Indian food is the UK’s third most popular takeaway meal support this fact.
On top of this, thanks to the herbs, spices, and ingredients used in making the majority of the dishes, you can guarantee that the food you are eating is delicious and nutritious for you.
What Kind of Dishes Are Cooked In A Tandoor?
Many dishes can be cooked in a tandoor, not just Tandoori Chicken; although this is still a phenomenal dish, you can try many more.
For example, at Purple Poppadom, we serve Tandoori King Prawns marinated in Kashmiri red chillies.
Our Raan Akbari is a slow-braised lamb shank dish marinated in spices, cooked in the tandoor, and served with sauce reduction and salad.
Our many other tandoori based dishes include Seekh Kebab, Chicken Connoisseur, Fresh from the Creamery, Nawabi Chicken, Murgh Lababdar and Murgh Makhani.
Tandoors and tandoori foods have a long, rich history in India, and since the 1960s, the world has been enjoying many flavoursome meals thanks to this technique.
These days, Indian food cooked in tandoors is a staple in any Indian restaurant in the UK, and diners can enjoy a range of inventive and truly superb meals thanks to this method of cooking meals.
If you want to sample some culinary treats, why not book a table or order a takeaway from Purple Poppadom to find out precisely what you have been missing and get an authentic taste of India in Cardiff.