Indian Clay Ovens - Tandoor Ovens
Though you will often find indian clay ovens, also called tandoor ovens, in restaurants, they are available for use in the home. The best recommendation is to use a Tagine. A tagine works like a clay oven but is smaller and less expensive. So what is a clay oven and what can you cook in it? The ovens date back to the Mesopotamian area, somewhere around the year 3500 B.C. Tandoor clay ovens were used to cook different types of meats and breads. To this day they are still used in the same fashion. Clay ovens can get extremely hot resulting in the dishes being cooked in the oven to become crispy, but also very moist on the inside.
Popular dishes include naan, which is a flat bread, clay chick, lamb kebab, and vegetable kebab. Most people living in Iran, India, some parts of Turkey, Armenia, and some countries in the Middle East, cook their meals in clay ovens. In all, these ovens make great dishes that anyone would enjoy.
Clay is a great material for cookware. It is porous, which means that you need to soak it in cold water for fifteen minutes before adding the ingredients to it. As the pot becomes heated in the oven, the steam evaporates slowly inside the pores of the clay and the food forms its own juices.
These juices stay inside the pot as steam until the food is cooked and the pot is dry. Meat cooked in an indian clay oven will stay really juicy. Wet clay does not heat up as much as metal so you need to use a higher temperature for clay pot recipes and cook them for longer.
100 degrees F more and half an hour more is a good guideline. If you usually cook chicken for an hour at 375 degrees F, you will need to cook it for an hour and a half at 475 degrees F if you are using a clay pot. Clay pots should always be put into a cold oven and heated up with the oven, to minimize the risk of cracking.
Food does not stick to clay unless it is burnt on, so to clean your clay pot you just need to soak it in warm water, sprinkle salt over it, and use a stiff brush to scrub it. Rinse it and let it air-dry. Do not use detergents on it because it is porous and you cannot rinse them away properly.
For a very thorough cleaning, perhaps after using it to cook a strong-smelling fish, add a few tablespoons of baking powder to a bowl of hot water, and soak the pot in that. Clay pots are hardier than they might first appear to be and they survive many bumps and knocks. Store the lid next to the pot, rather than on it, in case the pot is not totally dry inside and mold forms.