About The Clay Oven Indian Restaurant

Best Indian Takeaway Restaurant in Morningside Road, Edinburgh EH10 4BY

‘The Clay Oven’ who would believe that now universally used clay oven can be traced back to 1500 B.C. when the Egyptians invented the ‘tonir’ which was an oven, hemispherical and made of clay, with a side tunnel large enough to allow bread discs to be slid into the main oven, thus preparing the way for leavened bread in the form of flat loaves.

“Tandoor”

Over the years, however, the biggest transformation to the tonir, which originally has a side entry hemisphere, became a sphere with a narrow-necked opening at the top, now known as tandoor. We now have Tandoori Cooking which has been established by 1483 in the dynasty of the Moghul Emperors, when Babar conquered India, and it is entirely conceivable that it was the Moghuls who perfected Indian Tandoori Cooking as they did with their entire range of dishes such as Korma, Rhogan Gosht, Biryani and Kebabs, although it is unlikely that its invention can be attributed to them. Credit for this probably lies with the Persian and Arab Moslem invaders as far back as in the ninth century when they brought their kebabs and charcoal cooking to the rugged and mountainous areas of Persia and Afghanistan and into what is now known as the North West Frontier in Pakistan. The delicious cooking style we know today was evolved over the next few hundred years, marinades became highly spiced and colourful and yoghurt was incorporated to improve the marinating process and particularly to assist in the tenderising of the meat and poultry which was usually very tough.

“Nan Breads”

The nan breads are another delicacy which are baked in the heat emitted from the top of these ovens and a very important factor, which a great many people don’t realise is that, clay oven cooked food has a lower calorie content than most other forms of cooking and in most occasions it assists in good digestion.

“Tandoori”

As we now know the clay oven was evolved many centuries ago and the magiv which we now associate with “Tandoori” comes from marinated ingredients and of course the large spherical egg-shaped open topped Tandoori pottery tub.

“The Clay Oven”

The clay oven in most restaurants is usually about three feet high and approximately two and half feet in diameter with the open top being about one foot in diameter, which is normally covered by the chef with a metal plate when the oven is “at rest” in order to retain the heat. The oven is made from a special blend of clay and Bangladeshi jute is used to reinforce the walls which are about two inches thick. In the villages of Pakistan and Bangladesh the clay ovens are buried in the ground with the earth packed tightly around them to give insulation and stability. Obviously this is not practical in the restaurant and the oven is in a square enclosure of firebrick insulation blocks. The open cavities are packed with high density glass fibre wool insulation. A concrete top with ceramic tiles on the top and outside faces create a hygienic kitchen appliance, cold on the outside yet very hot inside. The oven is supplied unfired (after three or four uses it is fired). A small draw hole at the base can be opened or closed to create an air flow. Although charcoal is the traditional fuel, some restaurants usually have two tandoors, one charcoal fired running at very high temperature and the other gas powered running at lower temperature. Charcoal fuelled ovens are usually loaded to about 6 inches in depth and allowed two and half to three hours to reach operating temperatures, literally white hot (700F/370C). It is a property of the special clay blend that it can withstand this high temperature without cracking and the coals can be allowed to extinguish and the oven to go cold between usages without shrinking.

To finish off, the oven implement which your chef requires is the three feet long round metal skewers which allow the food to rotate on them whilst cooking.