A tandoor is a cylindrical clay oven used in cooking and baking. The tandoor is used for cooking in Afghanistan, Iran,India, Turkey, Pakistan, the Transcaucasus, the Balkans, Middle East, Central Asia as well as Burma and Bangladesh.
The heat for a tandoor was traditionally generated by a charcoal fire or wood fire, burning within the tandoor itself, thus exposing the food to both live-fire, radieant heat cooking, and hot-air, convection cooking.
Temperatures in a tandoor can approach 480°C (900°F), and it is common for tandoor ovens to remain lit for long periods to maintain the high cooking temperature. The tandoor design is something of a transitional form between a makeshift earth oven and the horizontal-plan masonry oven.
Depending on whom you ask, some people believe that Tandoor was originated in Persia (Iran) and brought to India via Afghanistan by Arabs. Evidence also exists that Tandoor may have been native to India dating back to 3000 BC. Small mud plastered ovens resembling Tandoor with a side door have been found in Harappa and Mohenjodero settlements of ancient Indus valley.
Tandoor' is derived from Persian (Iranian) word 'Tannur', derived from Babylonian word ‘tinuru’ based on Semitic word nar meaning fire. In Turkey, Tannur became Tandur.
In Afghanistan, the Tandoor was built in the ground and served as a bread making area for the entire communities.
During fourteenth century, a noted poet, Amir Khusrau describes Naan-e-tanuk (light bread), and Naan-e- Tanuri (Cooked in Tandoor) at the imperial court in Delhi. Jahangir is credited with making Tandoor portable. The cooks were instructed to transport Tandoor to anywhere he traveled. Tandoor was used to make Naan, Roast whole baby chicks (Chooza) and large pieces of lamb.
In India, the first built-in Tandoor at a restaurant was installed at Moti Mahal Restaurant in 1948 in Delhi. Jawaharlal Nehru enjoyed Naan and Tandoori chicken, making them a part of official banquets for visiting foreign heads of States.