When a warm piece of bread with perfectly done Tandoori Chicken reaches you after an eager wait, you hardly think of where it’s coming from. But this is an experience that has travelled across the land and has been perfected over centuries.
The secret of these flavourful delights lies in the infernal tandoor (clay oven), a cylindrical drum-like container in which wood charcoal is left to simmer in embers. As the food is cooked in this natural oven, a smoky flavour engulfs its surface and leaves behind a unique flavour.
Inception of the tandoor
While the tandoor was conceptualised somewhere in Central Asia, it was originally used only to make bread. The first remains of such a mechanism were traced back to the Harappan Civilisation, where clay pots with a side opening were claimed to have been found.
But leave it to the people of India to turn a discovery into a rich cultural experience.
Just before the Partition, a trio of Indians used the smoky tandoor to fire up something new – a dish of chicken.
The flavours amalgamated with the spices of the famous Tandoori Chicken and created a dish that came to be revered by the likes of Jawaharlal Nehru.
The trio — Kundan Lal Jaggi, Thakur Dass and Kundan Lal Gujral, created this dish at their restaurant Moti Mahal in Peshawar, now Pakistan.
Soon, the next most popular destination of tandoori delicacies opened in Delhi — a branch of the restaurant granted by Nehru himself.
Thus, the popularisation of the clay oven continued.
Watch this video to know more about the story of the tandoor: