Build Your Own DIY Tandoor Oven from Flower Pots
This is easily the best thing I have done, not because it was so incredibly easy to make, nor because it is fun to use and gives incredible results, but more for the interaction I get from people around the world. I am constantly being contacted by people that have made their Tandoor after watching the video or reading my blog. I also love the way they share their ideas for meals to cook, and I have got a huge amount of inspiration from them. To think I regularly cook fish in the oven, and I have always avoid fish in the past. If you haven’t seen the video of the Tandoor, check it out below:
So what made me build the oven in the first place? Well I had seen videos and someone on TV build a Tandoor out of dustbin, and I thought cool I think I will make one of those. The trouble was they had one flaw, they looked ugly. I actually wanted something that looked like a Tandoor, but more importantly looked pretty in the garden. So I then started thinking about clay, but you know me I like to do things simply, and that is when I came up with the idea of using clay pots. I thought about it for several months playing around with designs in my head. Then one day I went to the garden centre and picked three pots that I thought I could use. I went home and just built, and this the original Tandoor for Couples which you can find on this site. The key thing to note I did not have a practice run or did any experimenting, I just built it from scratch and it worked.
Now this first Tandoor was cool, funky and looked good, but it had one major problem it was too small. If there is just two of you and you want to just cook kebabs, then it is fine. The trouble is we are a family of four, and I also wanted to cook other things like Naan. So now we come to this Tandoor, and I went with the same design philosophy of simple to build, easy to use, and would look good in the garden. The Tandoor had to be something anyone could build. So took my original design, but went large and also added a few tweaks. Another trip to the garden center when they were have a “half price pot sale”, and I came back with the following:
So what was the decision process around these pots? Well the large outside pot was easy, I loved the look of it and it was only £17. I liked it so much I brought several, and now have them spread around the garden with flowers in them. As for the inner pots, well I just walked around the garden centre trying different size pots to see which ones worked best inside the outer pot. The actual sizes I went for were as follows:
Large outer pot = 52cm H x 52cm D at the top
Inside bottom pot = 22cm H x 27cm D
Inside top pot = 25cm H x 27cm D
For the new oven I wanted to be able to burn more charcoal so I could get a hotter oven. Don’t worry about it being expensive on charcoal. As I write this piece one week short of three months after building the oven, the 7.5 kg bag I started using has only just run out at the weekend. So I could burn more coal I went with a wider base at the bottom. I was then concerned about airflow so I drilled several extra holes in the bottom to increase the airflow. For the pot that goes on this, I decided to go for an oversized pot so I could have a wider opening at the top. But more importantly the top pot now went over the bottom pot forming a ridge around the edge. I got this tip from a reader and this is the best enhancement to the original design. Having trouble understanding what I am trying to describe, well here is a picture that might help to explain it better.
So what is so special about having the ridge? Well first of all you can now have your skewers resting on the ridge, which means your kebabs cook evenly. They are cooking more on the horizontal plane than the vertical. The second added advantage of the ridge allows you to add a grate in the middle of the oven resting on the ridge. This makes your oven more versatile, as you can now cook jacket potatoes, slow roast joints, bread etc.
You would have spotted the ring at the bottom of the large pot which the bottom inner pot sits on. In my original oven I used a sweet tin, but both do the same job. The point of the ring is to lift the inner pot up to improve the air flow, whilst enabling insulation material to go to the bottom without falling through the outer pots holes. I couldn’t find a suitable ring, so I made mine out of a broken pot. I just cut the bottom off and then cut the hole out. Here is a short video showing how I did this. Note how easy an angle grinder goes through a clay pot. Also note I didn’t do an elegant job here, but then no one is going to see it.
Now comes the exciting bit, and it is easy too, just put it all together. First you put the ring in the bottom making sure all the holes from the outer pot are within the ring. Next start putting in the inner pots, with the bottom pot rest on the ring, and the next pot on top for this one.
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