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How To Use A Tandoor Oven

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Using you tandoor oven…


Outdoor, charcoal burning tandoor ovens are becoming very popular. They are about the same price as a good gas barbecue and also a lot of fun. I use mine all the time.

The recipes in my cookbook ‘The Curry Guy BBQ’ are written mainly for barbecue and campfire cooking but many of the recipes can also be done in a tandoor oven.

Following is a bit of information you might need if you want to give tandoor cooking a try. 

Commercial tandoor ovens are made with clay that is well insulated. The internal temperatures can reach in excess of 485c/900f. As the fire burns at the bottom, the clay oven walls heat up and radiate that heat into the oven.


Getting your tandoor started

Check out this video where I fire my tandoor for the first time…

How much charcoal you need will be down to the size of your tandoor. I have a BabaClay tandoor and use a couple of fire starters and about 1 ½ kg of lump wood or 1 kg of charcoal briquettes to get things started but you might need more or less. Experiment or refer to your users’ manual if you have one.

Open both the bottom and top vents completely and light your fire in the back of the oven as far from the open front vent as possible.

Once you have a good fire going, add another 2kg of lump wood or about 6 more briquettes and spread it out some. Briquettes burn slower and longer but lump wood achieves a higher heat faster.

After about 20 minutes, the tandoor should begin to heat up. Place the lid over the top so that it is about ¾ covered and close the bottom vent by 2/3 and allow to heat up for about 45 minutes. By this time, your tandoor walls should be hot and radiating heat.


Adjusting and maintaining tandoor temperature

I use a laser thermometer and highly recommend getting one if you want to cook in a tandoor. To check the heat, aim the laser at the wall of the oven. Add more fuel as required to heat it up or close the vents for a few minutes to cool it down. Not too long though!

Tandoor Cooking Temperatures

Naans and tandoori roti:

This is a difficult one as the required temperature really is down to the size of your the make and size of your tandoor oven. I have a large indoor temperature and need to get the walls between 300 and 330c. If the temperature is below 300c they tend to fall off. Over 330c and the burn too quickly.

My smaller outdoor tandoor can cook naans at about 250c. This really is a trial and error thing! You’ll get there in the end.

Skewered meat, seafood, vegetables and paneer

Cooking other items like meat, seafood, vegetables and paneer can be amazing in a tandoor. I have prepared a couple of videos here for you featuring recipes from my cookbook.

Chicken Shashlik

Afghani Chicken

If you are having trouble getting tandoor cooking down, feel free to reach out by leaving a comment. I’ll do all I can to help.