At The Ruby, we’ve long been proud of the heritage within our cooking, as last month’s article on the Biryani cooking style displayed.

This month, we’re taking a closer look at our Tandoori Grill dishes, where it’s all about the Tandoor oven and the marinades which are applied to the delicious meats and vegetables.

What’s the tandoori cooking style?

Even if you’ve never tried it, there’s a good chance you’ve at least heard of tandoori chicken!

Tandoori cooking is an Indian method of using charcoal fire to cook within a tandoor, which is a large cylindrical oven made from clay. Tandoor are usually at least one metre high and traditionally they were sunk up to their necks in the earth.

Inside the tandoor, a charcoal fire is built and allowed to burn for several hours to create a great heat. A marinade is prepared from a mix of spices, yoghurt and fresh herbs and it is then applied to chicken, lamb or vegetables.

These ingredients are then places on skewers and placed vertically in the oven. Naan bread is cooked by forming ovals and pressing the mixture into the inside neck of the tandoor, where they are baked perfectly.

Other flatbreads such as rotis, parathas and kulchas are cooked in a similar manner.

At The Ruby, our number one Tandoori dish is the Chicken Shashlick, where we remove the skin to help the flavours from the spices in the marinade infuse.

Here’s chef Gordon Ramsey having a go at working a Tandoor oven on a busy Friday night at a London restaurant:

Warning: some bad language!

A brief history of the tandoori cooking style

Similarly to the Biryani, Tandoor cooking is thought to have emerged from Persia and the roots of the method can be traced across Central Asia.

There are several different types of Tandoor, from the Afghan tandoor which is made from bricks and sits above the ground to the Punjabi tandoor which is set in the ground. Temperatures inside can reach 480 degrees Celsius.

In many Punjab villages it was common to share a communal tandoor, in fact, many villages still do and it was a common sight before 1947.

One of the world’s biggest Tandoors was built in Azerbaijan in 2015. At 6.5 metres in height and 12 metres in diameter, the heat inside must be truly incredible!

Why is it called a tandoor?

The English name comes from the Hindu / Urdu word ‘tandūr’ which takes its roots from the Persian word ‘tanūr’. Both mean ‘clay oven‘.

What’s the difference between Tandoori and Grilled Chicken?

The versatility of a tandoor means that there are four different ways to cook food, as opposed to just the one with a grill.

In a tandoor, the hot coals are the foot of the oven can be used to grill but the large clay walls retain moisture and help circulate that heat through the space, like a conventional oven, too.

The third way to cook is to use the juices from the cooking food to drip onto the hot coals, cooking meat like a smoker would. Finally, those large hot walls can become the perfect place to griddle, baking breads like naan and paratha.

Grilled chicken is normally cooked horizontally which needs to be flipped regularly to be cooked evenly. In a tandoor, chicken pieces are placed vertically on skewers meaning heat can surround the meat, cooking it evenly. The heat in the tandoor means the meat cooks quickly – giving far less time for the meat to dry out.

How to build the tandoori oven

If you’re interested in building your own tandoor oven to make authentic tandoori chicken at home, YouTube has some easy explainer videos videos! Do be careful, they get very hot!

The Ruby’s favourite Tandoori Dishes

At The Ruby, all our tandoori grilled dishes are made with a delicious marinade of spice mix, yogurt and fresh herbs. We have Chicken Tikka options, Lamba TIkka, Tandoori Chicken, Tandoori King Prawns, Paneer Tikka, Chicken or Lamb Shashlick or the ultimate, the Tandoori Mixed Grill!

Take a look at our Spring dish recommendations, too!

Order yours now!