International Cuisine In Your Backyard: Beyond Flipping Burgers There’s A World Of Sizzle To Explore

Mankind has been obsessed with outdoor grilling ever since our ancestors first discovered fire a million years ago. Cooking over wood and charcoal imparts a smoky flavour that is the secret ingredient to so many favourite ethnic dishes. If you’re an adventurous epicurean who loves playing host, you can turn your backyard into a gourmet oasis with specialty ovens and grills that bring to life age-old traditions from around the globe.

A Gateway to Heat

The tandoor oven, a cylindrical vessel made of clay, is an integral part of India’s culinary heritage and the secret behind the smoky tang of your beloved Indian dishes. Cooking food over wood/ charcoal in the belly of a tandoor oven at scorching high temperatures results in fast cooking times.

If you love the interactive experience of fondue parties, you’ll love these ovens that are designed for vertical barbecuing. Picture marinating meats, vegetables and cheeses in yogurt and spices, skewering them on metal rods and inserting them into the vessel vertically.

As the food cooks with the lid closed, the juices spill down onto the charcoal, creating a flavourful, smoky convection-style cooking chamber. And brace yourself – slapping dough on the inner walls of the oven makes fluffy naans with a crispy exterior!

Typically standing waist-high, tandoor ovens are portable and easy to integrate into any patio. There are stainless steel or beautifully handcrafted clay versions carved and painted in intricate geometric patterns and Eastern motifs.

Italians have perfected the fine art of pizza with their iconic brick wood-fired ovens. The tradition dates back centuries, notably in Naples, the birthplace of Napolitano pizza.

The brick construction allows for intense heat as high as 500 degrees Celsius, and the dome shape allows heat to circulate effectively for consistent, even distribution. It makes mouth-watering pizza with an airy, crispy crust in a record-breaking 90 seconds, while adding a hint of smoky delight.

But the magic doesn’t stop at pizzas! Many regions in Italy, like Tuscany and Campania, roast meats in the same ovens, including whole lambs or goats for special celebrations. Even distribution of high heat locks in the juices. Upscale brands like Forno Bravo offer pizza ovens that can be customized with stucco exteriors or decorative tile and mosaics, for a traditional look with a personal touch.

The Social Art of Grilling

In Argentina, asado is not just a grilling method; it’s a social event. The tradition dates back to the early 19th century and has its roots in the gaucho (Argentine cowboy) lifestyle. Gauchos would gather around an open fire, grilling large cuts of meat while sharing stories and songs.

Asado barbecuing is a slow, measured process using a parrilla – a special grill, typically a two-part design featuring an iron grate and a firebox (brasero) by the side to ensure food doesn’t absorb acrid flavours that are produced when wood/charcoal is fired up.

Parrillas often come with a crank that makes the grill easy to raise and lower for quick temperature adjustments, allowing popular dishes like costillas (beef ribs), chorizo sausages and morcilla (blood sausage) to be cooked to perfection.

Since the meat is cooked over an open fire, these grills don’t imbue as much smoke flavour as an enclosed smoker. But guess what? With asado, the meat is never marinated – all you need is a good quality salt. If you’re not ready to go big with free-standing units, a built-in unit can be easily dropped into an outside kitchen island.

For a more interactive social experience, consider a Korean barbecue grill. These tabletop grills, whether built into the table or portable, encourage communal cooking and dining and allow you to cook marinated meats and vegetables right at the table.

Side dishes, known as banchan, like kimchi, pickled radishes, and various sauces, will elevate your grilling experience, making every meal both a feast and a festive event!

By Fiorella Grossi

Leave a Reply