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Small Portable Tandoori Oven Build - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community

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Small Portable Tandoori Oven Build

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  • Small Portable Tandoori Oven Build

    Hi All,

    I'm going to try and build a small version of a Tandoori oven inside a 50 liter (13 US gall) beer keg. The family are crazy about naan bread (which costs me a fortune) and I have been experimenting with a charcoal BBQ to cook home made naan. This works OK, but I can only cook the naan on one side and flipping it over to finish cooking destroys the naan effect.

    Anyway, similar to what Voon has posted here but only smaller. Now I might find out this is too small to be useful, but I have to try.

    I have the keg (stainless steel), the flower pot (37cm OD Italian Terra Cotta) and a friend with a plasma cutter and both TIG & MIG welding facilities (always needed an excuse to try out that plasma cutter). My thoughts are as follows.

    Cooking Physics : Essentially I want to be able to cook my naan as they do in real tandoor ovens. So slapping the naan on the side of oven, using heat from the terracotta pot to cook the bottom and using the trapped heat inside to cook the top. Probably have to make the naan a little smaller due to the smaller opening of the pot (22cm).

    Heat Source : Located in Australia, I have access to an interesting form of charcoal sold by Red Heads (a Swedish match company). It is wood charcoal, but unlike ordinary charcoal appears to have been ground to a fine dust, mixed with a neutral binder and then re-compressed under pressure and pushed into a hexagon shape, with a hole in the middle for better air circulation. It burns very well, quite long, is relatively clean, and generates a lot of heat.

    Construction : A 50liter keg is not that big, but I plan to cut the top and bottom lids off the keg (but keeping the lips), essentially increasing it by another 10liters.

    On the bottom, I want to convert the rounded bottom to a flat one, so I want to cut out the bottom using the plasma cutter, but leave the bottom lip. Using flat SS sheet stock (and probably some bracing) weld a new bottom on. With the top, do a similar thing, cut the top off but leave the lip on.

    The 37cm terra cotta pot fits perfectly inside the keg (I think), so I was thinking about 2inch of vermiculite on the bottom, 25mm high refractory bricks on the base, 1 layer of bricks around the edge (for the pot to sit on). A square hole and matching gap would be provided for an air vent in the bricks. This should avoid the need to cut any tricky shapes in the pot. The pot when then sit on top of the bricks, and be surrounded by vermiculite as insulation.

    Concerns : Biggest concern is that the terra cotta pot is not that thick (maybe 15mm at most) and it may not have enough thermal mass. I guess this could be done with some wire mesh around the outside of the pot and adding additional layers of refractory cement to increase the thermal mass.

    So that's my plan - no idea if it is going to work but would be interested in others comments. My next best idea is to take the keg down to the scrap merchants and use the money to but a plant to put in the terra cot pot.

    Cheers
    Luke

  • #2
    Re: Small Portable Tandoori Oven Build

    Hi Luke and welcome aboard.
    Great to see another Aussie contributing to the forum.

    iggest concern is that the terra cotta pot is not that thick (maybe 15mm at most) and it may not have enough thermal mass. I guess this could be done with some wire mesh around the outside of the pot and adding additional layers of refractory cement to increase the thermal mass.

    Anothe ralternative is to source some other pots that will fit snugly either inside or outside of your required pot. Good garden nurseries usuall have a selection of pots and from what I've seen, they are in sizes that are slightly bigger or smaller than their sisters, With a little refractory cement or by mixing your 'poor mans mortar' (1pt portland cement, 1 pt hydrated lime, 1pt fireclay and 3 pts sand) between the pots will provide that extra thermal mass and give you nice clean smooth surfaces in your oven. If being sandwiched between the terra cotta pots, you could leave out the Portland if you preferred.
    Just a though.
    Put some pics up when you get started.


    Neill
    Prevention is better than cure, - do it right the first time!

    The more I learn, the more I realise how little I know


    Neillís Pompeiii #1
    http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f8/n...-1-a-2005.html
    Neillís kitchen underway
    http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f35/...rway-4591.html

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    • #3
      Re: Small Portable Tandoori Oven Build

      Originally posted by eLuke455 View Post
      So that's my plan - no idea if it is going to work but would be interested in others comments. My next best idea is to take the keg down to the scrap merchants and use the money to but a plant to put in the terra cot pot.
      Gold, pure gold! LoL
      Paul

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Small Portable Tandoori Oven Build

        Luke,
        In the meantime try this.
        Make up your dough, I use a standard pizza dough recipe, flatten a piece into a flat oval shape and place it into your sandwich press maker. You need one that has a flat top and bottom. So easy and the bread puffs up nicely, you won't be disappointed.
        Dave
        Kindled with zeal and fired with passion.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Small Portable Tandoori Oven Build

          Hi Neill and others.

          Thanks for the responses. Yes, a 2nd pot for additional thermal mass is a great idea. I'm going to try it with just the single pot first, but I can retrofit another pot later if required.

          Update: A meeting was held between the designer (me) and the fabricator (my mate) and the fabricator complained that the designer (me) was not taking into considering how the fabricator (my mate) was going to build it, but instead focusing on how it would function. To defuse the tension in the meeting, beer was opened and consumed, and then the fabricator came up with a great idea.

          Instead of cutting off both bottom, and top, which would require a lot of plasma cutting, he suggested we just cut the keg on one of the ribs (about 3/4 of the way up) and place on top of this, another section of keg, which would only require a little plasma cutting. At this point in time, the fabricator rolled out another keg. So two kegs are now available for complete destruction to create this project. Further beer was consumed and the fabricator could not grasp the finer points of my design, as a result I came up with a 3D model.


          Note (Editorial Update) - The above concept was ultimately abandoned when the project was dimensioned up in 3D and it was clear that everything would fit in one keg.

          Cheers
          Luke
          Last edited by eLuke455; 01-31-2010, 04:41 AM. Reason: Update

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          • #6
            Re: Small Portable Tandoori Oven Build

            forgot to attach the pics
            Attached Files

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            • #7
              Re: Small Portable Tandoori Oven Build

              Update:

              Well finally some progress to report. A few hours at my mates place with him doing most of the work, and me doing most of the directing (my excuse was I had to take photos).

              Keg lid was cut with the plasma cutter (awesome tool - I have some video of this which I will put up later). The Terra Cot pot required the top lip and the bottom to be cut off, which was done with a diamond cutter.

              The cut off bottom (which I will turn into the Tandoor lid) formed a template for the hole to be cut in the lid itself! Very useful (again, a plasma cutting job)

              We also cut a few fire bricks but they destroyed what was left of the diamond blade in about 4 cuts (the blade was already shagged). I did a test assembly to see how it was going to go together. See images below.
              Attached Files

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              • #8
                Re: Small Portable Tandoori Oven Build

                With the diamond blade destroyed we came to a halt. I did a test fit to see how it was going to go together. You can see the vermiculite on the bottom, with a few fire bricks in for dimensioning.

                The fit of the cut Terra Cotta pot is perfect.

                So the next job is to cut the ventilation door (I purchase a small stainless hinge for this), mount some caster wheels on the base, and fix the lid back on.
                I'll take some more photos and let you know how we go. Can't wait to fire it up.

                Cheers
                Luke
                Attached Files

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Small Portable Tandoori Oven Build

                  Great project this and you are doing a fine job on the build!!

                  After seeing your post, I did some research on making naan bread and found that most recipes suggest that you can make naan in a standard electric (or even woodfired) oven. Will the oven you are making cook it any differently to the electric oven method?

                  Interested to see the results from the first firing...

                  Rossco
                  / Rossco

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Small Portable Tandoori Oven Build

                    Originally posted by heliman View Post
                    Great project this and you are doing a fine job on the build!!

                    After seeing your post, I did some research on making naan bread and found that most recipes suggest that you can make naan in a standard electric (or even woodfired) oven. Will the oven you are making cook it any differently to the electric oven method?

                    Interested to see the results from the first firing...

                    Rossco
                    Hi Rossco,

                    I have made Naan bread using all sorts of ovens (never in a wood fired pizza oven). The key to making good Naan is intense heat from both the bottom and the top. I have watched Tandoor chefs cook Naan and it should take no longer than 60-90 seconds.

                    I have tried in all sorts of electric ovens, but the problem is the heat. I have even used a pizza stone. You can still cook Naan OK, but the top is not crispy. It also lacks texture and mouth feel, probably being due to the longer cooking time and loss of moisture.

                    The best alternative method I have found is to crank up a small Hibatchi style charcoal cooker. I have one of those small rectangular Webers. I use this all the time for Charcoal BBQs at Picnic Spots, on the beach, etc. What I do is to borrow a cast iron grill plate from my normal gas BBQ, crank up the heat on the charcoal using a fan, then place the naan on the grill, and quickly put the lid of the Hibatchi on. The radiant heat from the Charcoal cooks crisps the Naan up nicely, but the top often requires flipping and cooking, and this destroys the puffed up Naan effect.

                    All this being said - I can't see any reason why you not cook excellent Naan in a wood fired oven. I don't have one or access to one, so it's hard to say. With the Naan on the flat over floor, you may need to rotate it to get the top done evenly.

                    Cheers
                    Luke

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Small Portable Tandoori Oven Build

                      Hi Luke - this is a fascinating cooking process - so varied, and it certainly seems to have a very strong following around the world.

                      I saw a vid with some guys making naan (production line arrangement), where the cook was pinning them to the sides of a vertical, cylindrical oven. I am guessing that this is the model that you are basing your design on...

                      In thinking about cooking naan in a WFO it certainly seems to be fit for purpose given the requirements for heat both top and bottom. I make a "starter" pizza normally when I begin a baking session which sounds like it's similar to a naan. I use the standard pizza base and add, rosemary, rock salt and olive oil. It cooks nicely top and bottom and does some puffing too which seems like a naan characteristic.

                      Moving on to the cooking requirements of a tandoori oven - has this got any special cooking requirements, that say a WFO hasn't got? I know many people cook tandoori in the WFO but wonder if there is a better mode of preparing it. If the WFO can cook tandoori satisfactorily, would it not be worth just going down the WFO path given the versatility of the product?

                      When do you plan to complete your project? Will there be some cooking action next weekend perhaps??

                      /Rossco
                      / Rossco

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Small Portable Tandoori Oven Build

                        Hi Rossco,

                        Originally posted by heliman View Post

                        Moving on to the cooking requirements of a tandoori oven - has this got any special cooking requirements, that say a WFO hasn't got? I know many people cook tandoori in the WFO but wonder if there is a better mode of preparing it. If the WFO can cook tandoori satisfactorily, would it not be worth just going down the WFO path given the versatility of the product?

                        /Rossco
                        I would much prefer to build a WFO than a Tandoor. Unfortunately, I am in the process of building/sub-dividing my block so building a WFO is on the back burner. I was not originally thinking about building a Tandoor, but I was contemplating how I might go about building a small portable "smoker" to make my own cold-smoked bacon.

                        I found a few web sites with details about small portable tandoors, and the results looked impressive. I decided that if I built a small tandoor oven in a keg I could also use it as a smoke-vessel for making bacon, by feeding smoke in via the ventilation duct. One thing led to another, then my mate told me about his plasma cutter and what it could do, so I was hooked on the idea.


                        Originally posted by heliman View Post

                        When do you plan to complete your project? Will there be some cooking action next weekend perhaps??

                        /Rossco
                        I'm hoping to complete it this weekend. I have a fair number of bricks to cut for the base which will probably be the most time consuming.

                        Cheers
                        Luke

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Small Portable Tandoori Oven Build

                          Sounds good ... best of luck with the project !!

                          Rossco
                          / Rossco

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Small Portable Tandoori Oven Build

                            Well,

                            Like all good projects, things took a bit of time to get on to the next step.

                            First, we needed to make a cutout for the vent at the bottom of the Tandoor. The great thing about Plasma cutters is that cut so quickly the metal never gets a chance to get hot.

                            The 1st photo shows the template we used for the vent. It was 5mm cardboard from a shipping box. The cardboard did not even burn (or smoke) and the entire cut was complete in 30 seconds. Keep in mind we are cutting 3mm stainless steel (well, I was impressed anyway).

                            We did make a little mistake with the vent. With hindsight, we should have left the door un-cut in the corners. This would have kept the door in place and made alignment of the hinge so much easier.

                            The hinge was clamped to the keg using a $2 G-clamp which gave us $2 G-clamp trouble (as you would expect) but it finally held. To raise the hinge above the rib, two stainless nuts were used as spacers. The nuts and hinge were then TIG welded. But as true amateurs, we forgot to turn the gas on and blew the tip away.

                            A quick regrind on the linisher and we tried again with the gas, this time successfully as shown in the last photo. However, as I found out, there is a significant amount of difference in heat between plasma cutting (none) and TIG welding (lots). My finger can assure you of that.
                            Attached Files
                            Last edited by eLuke455; 02-22-2010, 06:38 AM. Reason: minor fix

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                            • #15
                              Re: Small Portable Tandoori Oven Build

                              Now it was time to re-attach the door. With a bit of mucking around we taped up the door back into place using gaffer tape as shown in the 1st image.

                              The hinge could then tack welded onto the door, tape removed, with additional welding for more support. It was a relief to see the ventilation door working, but there was nothing to stop the door from being pushed too far in.

                              This was fixed with a small tab as shown in the last image. The other tab (shelf) is to help prevent motor falling through when we mount the pot. I will explain this bit later.

                              Luke
                              Attached Files

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