What makes Indian Barbecue Different from the Western Version?

We tend to think of Barbeque as a western invention. However, people have been using wood and charcoal to bake, grill and dry meat all over the world. With so many variations, it would be better to think of Western Barbeque simply as one of the many ways to prepare food using ancient the ancient technique of fire. 

Indian culture is very distinct from Western culture. This culture brought us yoga, spirituality, Ghandi and more. It is the birthplace of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, and other religions and has a large Muslim minority. This nation loves cricket, card games, online lottery for real money in India, Bollywood movies and music, and of course good food. 

indian chicken

India is a nation as diverse as it is large. It is home to hundreds of religions and sects, each with its own diet prescriptions, traditions and flavours. India is known for its variety of spices, and has many influences due to its location of the east-west trade routes. It has been developing its cooking traditions for millennia and grilling and barbecue are usually at the centre of them. That being said, let’s take a look at India’s way to grill meat.

The Chula

Before the British colonists brought cooking equipment with them to India, almost all food was cooked in charcoal ovens known as chulas. A chula is a simple baking device that has a hole in the front to feed the fire are holes in the top where the heat comes through. It is usually made from bricks. A man or male servant traditionally laid the bricks, while the finishing, plastering and preparing were usually done by women. This is because fine-tuning a chula was considered a delicate art form and hard to perfect. 

A chula gives the cook the choice to either use a pot or pan or cook directly over the flame or charcoal. As this cooking device generally comes without a grill, kebabs are one of the most popular dishes to cook. You can use a simple stick to barbeque mutton, poultry, vegetables, fish or beef to spicy perfection. The Chula has the added benefit that the bricks retain heat well, meaning very little fuel is needed. 

The Tandoor

The tandoor is another way is another way Indians Barbeque. It is actually a giant oven made of clay. It resembles a giant stone pot. It is often buried up to its neck in the ground. It gets its heat from charcoal which is deposited at the bottom, the heat will slowly travel up, cooking, baking or grilling anything that is stuck to the inside of the oven. Any fats and juices will slowly drip down on the fire creating smoky flavours that will slowly rise to the top. The tandoor is used to bake various types of flatbread, including tandoori roti, tandoori naan, tandoori laccha paratha, missi roti, and tandoori kulcha. However, the most famous dish of all is undoubtedly tandoori chicken.

Tandoori Chicken Recipe

If you want to make your own tandoori chicken, rub a skinned while chicken with lime and marinate for at least six hours in a mix of yoghurt and masala. Masala is an Indian spice blend. It typically contains ginger, garlic, chilies, and saffron. Most Indian cooks and families have their own secret masala blend, though you can simply purchase a spice mix at your local grocer. 

Next, place the chicken on a thick iron skewer and place within the tandoor. Due to the extreme heat, it should only take about 20 minutes for the whole chicken to be grilled to perfection. 

If you want to make your own version of this iconic Indian dish, you could consider buying a tandoor. However, grilling the masala-marinated chicken over your own barbeque or in your gas oven will probably also give a very tasty result as well. 

Spices

Remember that spices are very important to Indian cooking. However, it is a matter of finding the right balance between spices, rather than simply overloading your dish with random spices and herbs. If you are a beginner, you can buy premade Indian spice mixes. As you advance, you can start experimenting by creating masalas of your own.