small city condo, big tandoor!
So I have a funny story and actual pictures to back it up so that you know that it's true! Having lived in Japan for over 5 years where apartments are super small (think 100 sq meters), none of the kitchens have ovens. Most places have just a 2 burner stove and a small fish grill. Putting any sort of grill on any of the outdoor spaces in Japan is a no-go. So, having said all that, I am not a griller. I don't know how to use them and I always end up burning anything I put in it. So when I moved into my small but modern condo in the city in Chicago, the first thing that I didn't want to purchase was a grill. The only thing that I did want was a tandoor. Now, if you aren't familiar with a tandoor, it is a clay oven essentially that gets super hot (think 800F+). You put ginormous skewers of meat and veggies in it to cook super fast which locks in all the flavor. It pretty much is the best thing ever! When you think it can't get any better, you would be mistaken because it also can be used to cook homemade naan (Indian flat bread). Now I'm a big fan of bread in general (all carbs really) so to be able to make a quick bread in a tandoor with all the charred bits in about 2 minutes - I mean does it get better than that??
So back to my funny story. I ordered a home tandoor from this company based out of New Jersey that gets them straight from India. I was given a tracking number by the shipping company and warned that it would arrive in a wooden crate and would only be delivered on the first floor outside of my home. I would have to make arrangements to break apart the crate and carry up the tandoor to my balcony as I am on the 2nd floor of a three floor freestanding condo building. I tentatively asked the weight of the tandoor because at this point I was a bit apprehensive. He said that it was about 150 pounds which is heavy but not un-doable (with help) in my mind.
So the crate came. The delivery guy was not in the greatest shape but he tried valiantly. He had a pallet jack and was really huffing it. This wooden crate was massive. The guy even said that the thing felt like it weighed around 600 pounds. Ya'll, this thing was so large, it wouldn't even fit through my front gate. So yup, he left it out on the public sidewalk and handed me the shipping label. I took a quick look and it did say that the item was 150 lbs so I just thought that he was exaggerating as well as the tandoor itself was packed really, really, really well. At this point, I may have second guessed my impulse purchase a time or twenty. So after one broken hammer, I called for reinforcements. Unfortunately (as you will see from the picture below), as the crate came apart, the tandoor underneath was as large as the crate that was housing it!!!
Soooo, turns out that the shipping company sent me a commercial grade tandoor that was slotted to go to an Indian restaurant in Houston. Yup. Sad to say that my immediate thought was that I wished I could see the Chef's face at the Houston restaurant when my baby home tandoor was delivered to him instead! Good grief.
So, after a pretty bad patch job of re-crating this thing, that same delivery man had to come back that same day to pick up this monster. Ironically, he was upset with me for accepting the delivery in the first place! Sigh. A week later, my for reals tandoor arrived and it was perfect! Take a look at this beaut! Worth every penny (spoiler: it wasn't cheap!).
My absolute favorite thing to make in this bad boy is Tandoori Chicken! How sexy is this???
My first tandoor dinner party turned out amazing! I did the chicken but also did some veggie skewers and ended up making these amazing ground lamb kofta kabobs with a mint yogurt chutney. I served it all with some delicious homemade pulao (an Indian rice dish) and naan. It was a super big hit with my friends!
I always get this question whenever I serve Indian food so I will throw it out there right now. If you should be wondering where I got my cute serving dishes, I found them a long, long time ago at World Market. Sadly, I wanted more and could never find them again. However, if I had to do it again, I would definitely get some that had lids so that the food stayed hot longer. I don't want to stereotype, but at any party, there will always be guests that arrive (super) late. I like the option of covering the dishes and setting them in the oven on warm so that I can keep enjoying the party instead of constantly reheating food. I found these Indian serving dishes with lids on amazon that I really like. Check them out if you are interested in having a few for your own parties - I cook Indian food enough that I can totally justify having them!
I will post some of these recipes in future blog posts but here is the one for the lamb. I don't usually serve lamb so to have it was a treat and not very difficult to make once you have all your spices set up. Now I know that not everyone happens to have an amazing home tandoor at home, so I will say that I am currently OBSESSED with my new air fryer. I have since made these in there and they are absolutely delicious, easy to make and has easy clean up! My air fryer even came with metal skewers!
Seriously, if you don't have an air fryer yet, you need to be converted. I will be posting TONS of recipes for my air fryer because I basically use it at least twice a day and it has a primo space in my kitchen (I am ruthless about what I keep handy) so for it to have made the cut, it has to be pretty dang special. As of today, my sister, my brother, my friend and a semi-stranger that I gushed about it to have bought this same one. You can find it on amazon here. Trust me, it's a game changer.
SPICED GROUND LAMB KOFTA KABOBS
2 pounds ground lamb
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
Neutral oil (I like avocado oil)
If you don't have a tandoor with metal skewers, then soak your wooden skewers in water.
In a large mixing bowl add all the ingredients together except for the oil. Using clean hands, gently mix until aromatics are evenly distributed, being careful not to overwork.
If you don't have a tandoor (although you should totally think about getting one), preheat a lightly-oiled gas or charcoal grill to high for direct-heat cooking. Or preheat a lightly-oiled cast iron grill pan over medium-high heat on the stovetop. Or use my newest obsession, the air fryer and pre-heat it in 4 minutes!!
Form 12 slightly oval-shaped patties around 2 skewers each, about 5 inches long and 1 inch thick.
Grill the kebabs for 4-5 minutes on each side. Or put it in the air fryer at 400F for about 12 minutes - rotating them once half way. Keep an eye on them in case you don't like them extra charred like I do. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the meat should reach 135 degrees F for medium. Rest kebabs for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Serve the kebabs with a mint yogurt sauce, cucumbers, red onions and warm naan!
LINKS FOR SOME OF THE THINGS: