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Best smoke for Tandoori cooking

I've been a long-time cook of Indian food. I'm about to do my first cook on the egg for tikka/tandoori chicken and lamb.

Tandoori meat from a good Indian restaurant always has a smoky taste, but I cannot put a finger on which smoke wood would be best.

Suggestions/ideas appreciated!

-- Josh


  • calikingcaliking Posts: 7,224
    Many (most?) tandoori restos use commercial gas tandoors. Traditional tandoors are wood or charcoal fired and I don't think any particular attention is paid to what specific type of charcoal is being used. Having said, I would try oak lump, since IMO the flavor of hickory and mesquite can be a bit strong. 

    Part of the smoky flavor has to do with a little bit of char on the meat and the flavor imparted by fat/juices dripping on to the hot charcoal. 

    I've tried some experiments with tandoor-style grilling on the egg, and the results have been great, but not as good as my tandoor.

    #1 LBGE December 2012 • #2 SBGE February  2013 • #3 Mini May 2013
    A happy BGE family in Houston, TX.
  • Richard FlRichard Fl Posts: 7,933
    I like to use apple or apricot for flavor.
  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 15,915
    Fruitwoods are more palatable to people who are sensitive to smoke - they can almost be like perfume.  Find some species that you like and stock up.
    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.
    Large and Medium BGE, Kamado Joe Jr., smoker with a 5k btu AC, gas grill, fire pit, pack of angry cats, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.
    New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 

  • I agree that I would avoid hickory and mesquite and would use something more subtle such as fruit woods or Oak/cherry/alder.
  • ChubbsChubbs Posts: 5,593
    I agree that a lot of the smoke we are used to in tandoori chicken is from the grease drippings on the coals. If you do want to supplement, I would think go as light as possible or it will be off. Just my $2,000 opinion. (:|
    Columbia, SC --- LBGE 2011 -- MINI BGE 2013
  • AviatorAviator Posts: 1,546

    Traditional Indian cooking does not include the addition of wood for "smoke". Its the charcoal or coal that they use to bring that flavor. So as a purist, no wood.

    What you want to do is let the lump burn till clear and then throw the meat on. Like others above have said, the fat dripping off the meat and its marinade will do the rest.


    Large and Small BGE, and a baby black Kub.

    And all the toys to make me look like a Gizmo Chef.


    Chattanooga, TN.


  • Thanks all - much appreciated. I will leave it smoke-less and let the lump do its thing.
  • BYS1981BYS1981 Posts: 2,115
    I use just lump.
  • calikingcaliking Posts: 7,224
    Not related to smoke, but if you are planning to cook tandoori style, think about doing a high temp cook. Tandoors get farkin hot because the air flow is not regulated - big open hole at the bottom and another big open hole at the top. Cook the way you usually do for the first few cooks, but at some point consider the blazing hot cook, just to see if you like it or not. 

    #1 LBGE December 2012 • #2 SBGE February  2013 • #3 Mini May 2013
    A happy BGE family in Houston, TX.
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