A tandoor is a clay oven consisting of a vertical clay tube with sloping sides positioned over a hearth with an air inlet to one side. It produces a very intense heat which is usually used either to cook meat on long skewers or flatbreads on the vertical inside faces of the oven. In a British context we normally associate tandoors with Indian restaurants where commercial gas fired tandoors are often used to cook naan breads and tandoori meats and kebabs.
Construction of the tandoor begins .....in Roberts words below....
We've decided on a size for the tandoor of about 17 inches at the base and perhaps 12 inches at the top. The final oven will be either a terracotta pot, or brick, or a combination of both.
So, in the spirit of making it up as we go along, here is our tandoor construction blog in which you can follow along as we make our mistakes. This weekend we laid out the perimeter of the oven enclosure with concrete block. Within the enclosure we have laid an insulating base of 2 inches of vermiculite and cement.
Vermiculite base on concrete patio (about 32 inches square)
We leveled the vermiculite and laid a firebrick base on top of this and then packed more vermiculite and cement around the bricks to hold them in place. I used a mud of fireclay, sand and water under the bricks where needed, to fine tune the leveling of the base. (Always lay your high brick first if you need to make small adjustments to the level).
Firebrick base surrounded by vermiculite and cement
The remaining vermiculite insulation will be poured in dry (without cement to bind it) once the tandoor is built.
Got a new (bigger) terra cotta pot from Home Depot with an internal diameter of 18 inches. Cut the bottom off with the angle grinder. Bottom hole will be big enough to slap naan onto the side without accidentally burning the wrist. It so happens that Weber makes a grill which will fit inside on the little ledge of firebricks. I need to cut the grill in half so I can insert and remove it as desired. The lower level of firebricks has been mortared as shown below.
About 30 inches high
Air Hole (and ash removal hole) in the Back About 4 Inches Square
I think the tandoor might need some more thermal mass and also perhaps some more support (in the event it cracks). I have no idea whether or not this will work and as I told Eva this morning, this might end up as our practice tandoor. In any event, we mixed up a mortar of fireclay, sand and cement in the ratio of (approximately) 2-2-1. The mortar mixture was wetted to the consistency of modeling clay and then applied to the pot (after wrapping the pot in wire).
Wire Wrapped Pot
The clay shrunk over night and we had quite a few big cracks in the mortar this morning. But as my friend John the Greek used to say, there are 3 responses to any situation which are always appropriate; (1) so what, (2) who cares and (3) big deal. Tonight, a small test fire
This weekend we built up the walls around the tandoor and filled the cavity with perlite (until I ran out). Must make a Home Depot run this afternoon
As I figure it, that space in the wall will be too small for perlite to flow thru… Doh!!!
Well you can't make that much progress without cooking something, right? So we had the first meal out of the tandoor this weekend.
Fire in the Hole !!!!
Got the oven up to about 600 F and still no cracks. I'm going to have to practice at fire management. It's not as easy as the pizza oven has become and flare-ups are a problem. But the food tasted authentic.
Finished the countertop. The countertop around the tandoor is only loosely attached (in the event it needs to be removed for repairs). Going to have a tandoor party this weekend I think.