Tandoors are round topped, clay and brick ovens used to give foods a distinctively earthy flavor when cooked at high heat (up to 900 degrees F). Tandoors are used in the cuisines of South and Central Asia, often to prepare flatbreads (naan) and meat. Building a traditional tandoor is an involved process because the ovens need several layers of insulation to maintain their distinctive dry heat.
Select an outdoor site for the tandoor. Measure the edges of the site with a ruler and mark the corners of the site with sticks.
Dig a hole covering the entire area of the tandoor site, so that the base of the site sinks to at least two inches below the surface of the ground. Shore up the edges of the site with wood framing, so that the site resembles a shallow wooden box inserted into the ground.
Fill excavated site with poured concrete. Smooth over the concrete with a ruler or smooth wooden block. Give the concrete 24 hours to dry.
Build a brick wall nine to 10 bricks high, or roughly the height of the tandoor mold, on all sides of the concrete site.
Include a 4 x 6 inch ventilation hole in the side of the brick wall by leaving out a brick or two during the initial construction of the wall. Be sure the ventilation hole in the wall is the same height as the ventilation hole on the tandoor oven mold.
Layer the bottom of the walled in area with fire bricks. If these bricks are tightly packed, they do not have to be mortared.
Lower the tandoor oven mold into the walled-in area. Align the ventilation hole in the tandoor with the ventilation hole in the side of the brick wall. The tandoor mold should protrude slightly from the top of the walled-in area when properly installed.
Fasten the edges of the tandoor mold to the firebrick floor with cement. Allow the cement to dry before continuing. The tandoor mold should be firmly fastened to the floor when the cement is dry. If the mold remains loose, apply more cement.
Build a pipe connecting the ventilation hole in the tandoor mold with the ventilation hole in the brick wall. This pipe can be constructed from extra brick and mortar or high quality, heat resistant, pliable piping. Use excess cement to ensure the edges of the pipe are airtight.
Fill the area between the tandoor mold and the brick walls with heat proof insulation, such as vermiculite. Be sure the insulation is firmly packed.
Construct a cover to protect the top of the structure from rain. This cover can be built out of any water proof material, such as high-quality tarp or plywood.
Light a charcoal fire in the tandoor to line the oven with a flavorful layer of smoke. Your oven now is ready to use.
Builders may want to familiarize themselves with the basics of cement and brickwork before beginning construction of a tandoor. The tandoor site must be chosen carefully: prevailing winds may blow soot and heat in a particular direction, which could lead to stains on nearby plants or buildings. Builders should not construct tandoors near consistently dry vegetation that might easily catch fire. You can build build less elaborate tandoors out of oil drums and flower pots. Construction for these ovens is simpler, but the results are less long-lasting.