Oven Recipes: Tandoori Chicken and Naan Bread

IMG_1725Tandoori chicken has to be one of the most popular Indian dishes, and while making it at home is fairly straight forward, recreating that authentic flavour you get from an Indian restaurant can be difficult to achieve in the home kitchen. This is because the best tandoori chicken is cooked in a tandoor – essentially a very hot clay oven. Tandoor’s produce chicken that is moist on the inside and slightly charred on the outside. What’s true for tandoori chicken is also true for tandoor baked naan bread, the most delicious of which are soft and chewy inside but with a slightly blackened, blistered surface. Tandoors are essentially vertical clay ovens and so it’ll probably be no surprise to learn that our traditional clay/pizza ovens are excellent at producing authentic flavoured tandoori chicken and naan breads. This has to be one of my favourite recipes. The following method shows you how to make it

Tandoori Chicken (Serves 4)

1 whole chicken, jointed into eight pieces, or 1.5kg chicken pieces (legs, thighs, wings etc.) skinned

Marinade One
Juice of 2 limes
1tsp chilli powder
1 tsp sea salt

Marinade Two
100g natural yoghurt
4 cloves garlic, chopped
5cm piece of ginger, chopped
1tsp Garam masala
1tsp turmeric
1tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp of beetroot powder or natural red food colouring

Mix the ingredients for marinade one into a large bowl. Add the chicken pieces and rub with the marinade. Cover with clingfilm and leave in fridge for 1 hour.

Put the marinade two ingredients into a food processor (the mini versions are good) and blitz to a smooth paste. Add to the chicken and stir well to coat. Cover and return to fridge for at least 4 hours.

Next prepare your naan breads.

Naan Bread (Makes 6)

200g plain flour
100g strong white flour
1 tsp sugar
1.5 tsp dried yeast
1 tsp sea salt
100ml milk
100ml water
4 tbsp natural yoghurt
2 tbsp melted ghee (or butter)

Mix the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of your mixer with a bread hook, if you have one). Warm the milk and water together in a pan until blood temperature (approx. 40°C). Add the yoghurt and melted ghee to the dry ingredients, followed by the milk/water mixture. Mix together until you form a soft dough (add a little more water if you need to). Knead for 5 minutes, either in your mixer or on a floured surface, until smooth. Return to a clean bowl, cover and leave somewhere warm for 1 hour until it has doubled in size. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few more minutes. Cut the dough into 6 even sized pieces, roll into balls and cover again until ready to bake.

Fire your oven to full temperature (this can take an hour or more so calculate the timings carefully between firing the oven and preparing the food). Allow temperature to drop to around 300°C. Keep fire burning but clear a space for a large roasting tin.

Roasting the chicken

Place the marinated chicken pieces onto a wire rack and then put this into a large roasting tin (ideally the former should fit inside the latter). Add a small cup of water to the bottom of the tin and cover with foil (the water produces steam which helps keep the chicken moist). Place the roasting tin into your oven. You should soon hear the chicken start to sizzle. Check the chicken after 20 minutes, it should be cooking nicely but not charred. Remove the foil and put the roasting tin back into your oven for another 10-15 minutes. The heat from your oven should begin to char the chicken – be careful not to overdo it! Make sure the chicken is cooked through and cover again with foil to rest while you bake the naan breads.

Baking the naan breads

Roll each dough ball into a tear shape. They should be approximately 3-5mm thick. I like to cook my naan breads on the brick floor of my oven, so at this stage I clear a space using a wire brush. If you prefer, you can cook the breads on a metal baking tray or cast iron skillet – remember to pop them into the oven though first so they get nice and hot. Your oven should be around the 250 – 220°C mark. Place the rolled dough into the oven and watch it carefully. With any luck it will begin to inflate, rather like a balloon. You should also see it begin to scorch a little. Once you are happy it is done, brush it with some melted ghee or butter, place on a warmed plate and cover with foil while you cook the rest of the batch.

Squeeze chicken with lemon juice and serve with a naan and some salad (and a cold beer). Delicious!


Everything you need to build your own traditional pizza oven

IMG_0899In my book I outline the steps one should follow to build a traditional pizza oven. As a result of following these instructions, lots of people all over the world have now built their own ovens. One question I still get asked quite often is how much x do I need (where x can be clay, sand, bricks etc.). To be fair, I didn’t include lots of quantity details in the original book (new edition coming soon) because, to be totally honest, I didn’t record this information during my first build.

Anyway, at a recent build I made sure I took note of everything we used, and so here are those all important quantities and a full list of other equipment required.

NOTE: 1 bag of builders sand (approx. 15kg) fills a 15 litre bucket. 


Normally I prescribe a  2:1 ratio of sand to clay but this is a rule of thumb. You need to aim for a mixed material which holds firm, is not too soft (or wet) and not too dry. If it is too wet (or if there is too much clay) it will slump around the base of the layer you are building.

In the quantities outlined below I use a ratio of 2:1.5 for the first and outer layers, and a softer, clay-rich ratio mix of 1:1 for building the brick arch, the backfill and chimney, mainly because it is manipulate.
Clearly the plasticity of the mix will depend upon the moisture content of the clay and the sand you are using. The drop test* will help. I’d always err on the dry side, you can always add a little water (or more clay) if you need to.

SAND – 18 bags (approx. 270 kg)

  • 10 for the dome former
  • 4 for the first (oven) layer
  • 2 for the brick arch, backfill and chimney
  • 2 for the brick arch former
  • 7 for the final layer (you will use the sand excavated from the dome and arch formers for this final layer which means you’ll have approx. five bags leftover at the end)

CLAY – 12.5 buckets (approx. 190 kg)

  • 3 for the first (oven) layer
  • 2 for the brick arch, backfill and chimney
  • 3 for the insulation layer
  • 4.5 for the final layer


  • 2 large bags of wood shavings
  • 36 London bricks (11 for the arch, 25 for the oven floor)
  • Water
  • Rubble / hardcore (for the plinth fill)
  • Large wooden “beams”, sleepers, logs or bricks for the plinth (this depends on how you decide to build it)
  • Cement if you are building plinth out of brick
  • Right-angled brackets and screws if constructing plinth from wood
  • Glass bottles (optional)
  • Old newspapers
  • Plastic rubble sacks
  • A bucket or two
  • A drill with plaster mixer (optional)
  • A knife

*Drop Test – Form a tennis ball sized clay:sand ball in your hands. Drop the ball onto the ground from shoulder height. If the ball explodes, the mixture is too dry, if it “splats” it is too wet. Ideally the ball should just hold together.


Anyone who has followed this blog over the last few years will be familiar with articles I post that demonstrate how, periodically, I neglect the oven and then have to undertake major repairs. This demonstrates two things. Firstly, I’m not very good at looking after my oven. Secondly, considering these ovens are only made from clay and sand, they are fundamentally extremely resilient.

My oven is almost seven years old now. I have, over the years, repaired the chimney, completely rebuilt the brick arch and replaced some of the outer layer around the front of the oven. You can see these repairs outlined in the following posts:





Last year I had to replace a large section of the outer layer at the rear of the oven. The following series of photos outlines the process.

As you can see, the oven is very straight forward to repair. I normally keep a bag of clay:sand mixture at hand, ready to use for patching-up the oven when needed.

Obviously, if you take care of your oven better than I do mine, you’ll need to do this less frequently but what I think this demonstrates is that these ovens are much more resilient than most people would expect.