Bread from Tandir

In all Central Asian countries as well as in the Caucasian region bread plays a central role in kitchen. It is deeply respected and must not be missing from any meal. It is also often taken as victuals when traveling. Combined with a green tea or fruits, it is a delicious meal. It is often sold in big halls on bazaars or piled up on pram racks on the roadside.

Bread is nicely decorated with stamps and baked in the traditional clay oven tandir. At the bottom of the tandir there is an opening to light the fire. The dough is glued to the heated walls of the clay oven. Somsa dumplings filled with onions and meat are also baked in tandir.

Even meat can be cooked in the tandir. To do this, the pieces of meat are hung in wire racks in the oven and the oven openings are closed with clay.

The clay ovens, the names of which vary from country to country, are made in the centuries-old traditional way. In Uzbekistan they are called e.g. Tandir, in Xinjiang Tonur. The manufacture of the ovens varies slightly in different regions. Ovens are also made for various purposes such as professional or household use. The raw material is clay mixed with goat, sheep or camel wool and in some places also straw.

In the video below you can see how tandir ovens are made in Boysun in the Uzbek province of Surkhandarya. For this purpose, five buckets of white and red clay for each oven are mixed with goat wool and pounded repeatedly with the feet for hours before the mass is formed into the oven. It is tamped for two to three hours and then the mixture is left to rest for the same amount of time. This takes two days before round holes are dug in the ground for the oven components and the clay mixture in them is dried. After three days, the dried clay can be carefully lifted out of the hole. Then the oven part has to dry for four to five days.

Tandirproduction in Boysun/Surkhandarya, Uzbekistan:

This village near Bukhara is known for its tandir production. Here you can see how the clay is tamped, the finished clay mixture rolled out and, at the end, the shape of the oven is worked out.