ONLY heat beads or charcoal are to be burned in the Tandoor. DO NOT burn wood in the Tandoor as this will damage the clay liner. Firelighters can be used to assist with starting the fire. See pictures of these below.
If the Tandoor is being used for the first time, only a small amount of fuel is initially burned for 4 hours (see our “using your Tandoor for the first time” page). After this “first burn”, you can start off by placing about 1 to 1.5 kg for the SS1 models, or about 1.5 to 2.0 kg for the SS2 models, of charcoal or heat beads in a pyramid shape around a fire lighter. The oven will then consume about 1 kg of additional fuel per hour, which can be added in portions after the initial batch of fuel starts to loose heat (typically about 1.5-2 hours after lighting the oven). If fuel is added while cooking food, try to add it gradually to avoid large flames developing which may burn your food.
For better heat, heat control and flavour we recommend using charcoal over heat beads. The best form of charcoal to use in a tandoor is lump or stick charcoal (see picture below) provided in nice chunky pieces. Larger pieces of charcoal assist with air flow through the burning charcoal and enable you to generate high temperatures. Ideally the charcoal should range in size from about 4-7 cm in diameter.
We find charcoal responds better (in terms of heat control) to air flow than heat beads. With charcoal you can increase/decrease the fire heat quite easily by opening/closing the vent door and tandoor lid. However, with head beads you may find the best way to increase/decrease the fire heat is to simply increase/decrease the amount of heat beads used - opening/closing the vent door and tandoor lid will assist, but not as responsively as the charcoal.
Charcoal is most economically purchased in 15 or 20 kg bags. You should be able to buy it for about $1-$2 per kg. You can by it from major hardware and BBQ outlets, but you may end up paying $3-$5 per kg. To help you find where to buy good value charcoal, we have compiled a list of charcoal suppliers around Australia (use link below). Please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you know of other suppliers.
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DO NOT use any form of accelerant such as petrol to start the fire as this may cause an explosion. Never extinguish the fire with water as this will cause the clay liner to catastrophically crack. After use, the tandoor should be allowed to cool naturally. You may place the lid on the Tandoor and shut the side vent door to assist with extinguishing the fire.