Grilling, barbecue and roasting

Grilling, barbecue and roasting

By
Dan Toombs
Contains
12 recipes
Published by
Quadrille Publishing
ISBN
9781849499415

In this chapter I’m going to show you how to make some of my favourite tandoori dishes. Given the word tandoori, it would be fair to assume that everything is cooked in a tandoor oven, but this isn’t always the case. Almost every Indian restaurant now has a tandoor oven but many, especially Pakistani-run operations, only use the tandoor for naans and parathas.

Some of the best ‘tandoori’ dishes I’ve had were actually cooked on skewers or on a grill over an open flame. I have a home tandoor oven, but I also usually only use it for naans. This is especially so when we’re having a group of friends round. Cooking the meat, seafood, paneer and vegetables over the intense heat of the flames and the naans in the tandoor means that all the food can be served hot, at the same time.

Don’t get me wrong. I do cook meat often in the tandoor for my family, and I do recommend getting one. Small home tandoor ovens cost about the same as a good gas barbecue, and get superior results. They reach temperatures near 400°C, which is how the meat and seafood gets so nicely charred and succulent.

These recipes use both indirect and direct grilling methods, and I have explained both. I’ve also given instructions for conventional ovens as well as tandoor cooking, just in case you’re tempted.

Preparing your barbecue for direct heat grilling

Cooking over open flames is the simplest of the three methods used. When your food is exposed to the intense direct heat, it gets a wonderful, smoky char on the exterior, while the interior remains deliciously juicy.

When preparing your charcoal, it is a good idea to build a two-level fire. Pour your charcoal into the basin of your barbecue. Then spread the charcoal so that two thirds of the coals are stacked about twice as high as the remaining one third. This way, you can easily move whatever it is you are cooking from the hot side of the grill to the cooler side if it begins to burn before it’s cooked through.

I use a lot of charcoal – about two full shoe boxes – as it is important to achieve that intense heat. Light your charcoal and let it heat up until your coals are white-hot. To check if the coals are ready, hold your hand about 5cm above the fire. If your hand becomes uncomfortably hot in 2 seconds, you’re ready to start cooking.

I like to cook using flat skewers when cooking this way. Skewering meat, seafood, paneer and vegetables gives the finished dish that authentic tandoori-restaurant look. You could also use a grill.

Preparing your barbecue for indirect cooking

This method is used for roasting and you will need a barbecue that has a tight-fitting lid. Fill your barbecue on one side only with about two shoe boxes full of charcoal, leaving the other half empty. Light a few fire lighters and pile in the charcoal. Let it heat until white hot, then place the grill on top and whatever it is you are cooking over the side with no coals. Cover and cook. If you are barbecuing for a long period of time, you will need to throw a few handfuls of charcoal on the fire every half hour or so.

Oven for cooking

Open the bottom vent completely and place a few fire lighters in the tandoor opposite the vent. Pour in about two shoe boxes full of charcoal and light, ensuring that you strategically stack as many pieces of charcoal as you can over the flames. It is important that your charcoal is as far away from the vent as possible so that air can flow freely.

Once the fire is burning nicely, place the lid on, leaving a crack open so that air can flow from the vent to the top. Close the bottom vent so that it is only one-third open. You can now relax with a beer or two for about an hour while it heats up. To work properly, the clay walls of the oven need to be extremely hot and the tandoor needs to be at least 230°C.

If you are cooking with a tandoor for the first time, be sure to read the manual first, and cure the clay walls before cooking anything.

Oven cooking

Ovens vary but I usually crank mine up to 200°C/gas mark 6 and cook the meat on a wire rack near the top. To get that charred appearance and flavour, place the roasted meat under a hot grill for a couple of minutes after cooking, before serving.

Note:

The amount of charcoal you use depends on the size of your barbecue. Refer to your owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations. The Thüros Kebab Grill, shown in many of the photos, requires a lot less than larger kettle barbecues.

Featured Recipes in this Chapter

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