How to Build My Own Gas Tandoor

Fred Decker

Across a broad swath of the world, stretching from the Middle East across Central Asia to the Indian subcontinent, food and breads are cooked in tandoor ovens. These are clay ovens, shaped like a cone or elongated beehive, and fired with wood or charcoal. They develop intensely high temperatures in excess of 800 F, and cook breads or skewered meats and vegetables with the hot air that radiates from the flames and the walls of the oven. A simple tandoor can be improvised using a gas burner for heat, and a large terra cotta flowerpot as the oven.

Real tandoori chicken requires the intense heat of a tandoor. oven.

Step 1

Invert the terra cotta flowerpot on a flat surface, such as a patio or garage floor. Mark a pencil line approximately a 1/2 inch from the bottom of the pot, and running around its entire circumference.

Step 2

Put on protective eyewear, and plug in an angle grinder with a masonry blade attached. Hold the blade to the pencil line until it cuts through the pot, then follow the pencil line until you have cut all the way around the bottom of the flower pot. Remove the bottom section and discard it.

Step 3

Soak the flower pot overnight in water, to protect it against breaking when you fire it for the first time.

Step 4

Set your inverted flowerpot on the gas ring, to see if it sits there securely. If not, place a round barbecue grill, slightly larger than your flowerpot, on the gas ring. For added stability, tie the rack to the frame of your gas burner by wrapping it with wire on each of the four sides.

Step 5

Attach a propane tank to the burner, and light it. Leave it on a low setting for the first 10 minutes, then turn it up gradually for another 30 minutes. Check the temperature of the tandoor with a laser-type thermometer, available from your local hardware store. Once the tandoor has spent at least 10 minutes at 400 F, you can turn the gas to high.

Step 6

Test the tandoor's temperature regularly with the laser thermometer until it reads 800 F to 850 F. At that temperature your tandoor is ready to use. Adjust the gas as needed, during cooking, to maintain that temperature.