what makes our food unique
- we start with only fresh Locally Grown Organic Produce
- we use hand picked hardwood mesquite charcoal in our tandoor (clay pit oven) which promotes a unique flavor to the juicy and tender food cooked (compared to gas fired tandoors)
- we import fresh spices from India to maintain consistent quality
- we believe in good home-style food without any FRILLS !
Mesquite Charcoal Fired Tandoori Oven
As any restaurateur will tell you, political violence is never good for business. New borders established between India and Pakistan, circa 1947, had riled some locals, and the area was fast becoming a dangerous place to inspire appetites. One proprietor in the area decided he’d had enough. Among the items he packed for his trip east was a large, open-topped clay oven.
The move would end up leaving an indelible mark on Indian cuisine.
That clay oven was a tandoor. While a common sight in Northwest India at the time, it was long forgotten in Delhi and most of the rest of India. The new restaurant, called Moti Mahal, re-introduced the oven and tandoori cuisine to the mainstream and became a sensation.
The tandoor is really a marvel of cooking. Its clay walls are encased in brick insulation or earth (when it is underground). This insulation keeps the oven from losing heat, and the temperature can get white-hot inside (700 to 800 degrees F.) A bed of charcoal rests on the bottom of the oven, with a small hole to draw air (natural chimney).
A tandoor is used primarily for meat, which is placed on a skewer and lowered into the oven through its open top. The meat is prepared in one of three ways: whole and marinated (chicken, fish, or leg of lamb), cubed and marinated (boti kebobs or tikkas), or ground with spices and molded onto the skewer (sheek or seekh kebobs). Unleavened bread, such as naan, is cooked by being stuck to the interior wall of the oven, where it stays until done (only a few seconds or so).
The Mesquite Charcoal Fired Tandoor imparts a delicious, deep smoky-roast flavor to the food. While the flavor of the clay is a key element, so are the various marinades used in clay-oven dishes. Tandoori marinades are yogurt-based spice combinations, including garam masala, cumin, mace, and nutmeg. This cooking method ensures that the meats and bread do not turn dry after cooked but remain moist and succulent. The reddish-orange tint of meat cooked in a tandoori can be achieved with a little food coloring in the marinade. Compare this to cooking using natural gas, where the meats and the bread tend to be on the dry side and do not come out moist and succulent.
The early history of the tandoor is a bit of a mystery. Side-entry clay ovens used for baking bread first appeared in ancient Egypt and along the Indus River in what is now Pakistan, where they were called tandoors. Sometime after the decline of that Indus River civilization (1000 B.C.), clay ovens lost their side entry and became open-topped tandoors. Because they were used traditionally for bread, they survived predominantly in the cooler, wheat-growing regions.
While it is debatable where and when the tandoor was invented, royal cooks perfected it during the reign of the Mogul dynasty on the subcontinent (8th-century to 18th-century AD). To satisfy the royalty for whom they cooked, chefs began to use different meats and spices in the tandoor. Rich dishes were in demand, and yogurt began to figure prominently in their marinades. The food produced from these kitchens became the tandoori style we know today.
When the Mughali dynasty fell in the 18th Century, however, the tandoor almost followed. It remained in scattered use in kitchens in the northwest until 1947, the year of the Pakistan-India partition. The resulting violence along the border convinced the aforementioned restaurateur to move east to Delhi. The rest is history.
Of course, most people do not own tandoors. But you can still achieve a semblance of tandoori flavor with a grill or an oven. Remember that the marinade gives the meat much of its flavor. As for breads, they can be prepared on a griddle.