Earthen Ovens in Microwave Age

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Earthen ovens displayed for selling at a shop in Gawalmandi, Rawalpindi
Large earthen oven for baking kulcha and other food items

Clay tandoors being sold in raw form for baking naan, roti, kulcha and other food items

Pak Chronicle Report

Rawalpindi

The old and trusted local culture of using earthen ovens seems to be intact and in heavy demand in Rawalpindi despite the fact that technology has changed a lot things when it comes to backing food items at homes and commercially.

These earthen ovens are prepared with special mud after mixing a lot things into it including straw of wheat, crushed fiber of jute besides a lot more other items. Its real treat to watch when skillful hands turn mixture of these things with mud into ovens. The movement of fingers on mud present a magical look while turning it into oven or Tandoor.

The experts on these ovens have their own small-scale plants, generally at their homes at Charkri Road. They mostly get it ready on demand and wholesalers collect the product from them whenever it is required. Unlike other earthen wares these ovens are sold raw form, without backing. These clay ovens are supposed to be properly backed by the entrepreneurs themselves who buy them directly from the manufacturers or from retail shops.

There are shops in Rawalpindi, especially in the area of Gawalmandi which solely deal in earthen ovens. It’s sort of rare commodity which is by and large used for commercial purposes. In old days it was considered an important tool for every home when natural gas was not supplied as fuel. In rural areas these days where natural gas is not available yet, these ovens are integral part of almost every house unit for baking rotis.

Muhammad Khalid is salesman at a shop which has been dealing solely in ovens for the past 40 years or more.

When interviewed by Pak Chronicle Khalid who is 50 years old, said he has been working as salesman at the shop for the past 25 years. Prior to entering into sales of earthen ovens he himself used to manufacture cemented flowerpots.

In fact he does not know when this shop of ovens was established. According to him he used to pass by from it as a kid while attending school and now he has spent quarter of century over here as an employee. “Mostly people attached with restaurants or bakery items purchase these ovens. However, sometime people buy them for using at their homes since supply of natural gas is also suspended on account to its shortfall in the country. Its lifetime sort of investment because when an oven is installed somewhere it works years and years. No maintenance is required of it. Just fix it at some proper place and get advantage of it for decades,” Khalid said.

The large oven got the price tag of Rs8,000 while smaller units are sold against payment of fRs1,500 to Rs2,000. The large oven is used to for baking number of bakery items including Nankhatai, kulcha and others.

It may be heated either with natural gas or by burning dry wood in it. In winter days when there is shortfall of natural gas and its supply is disconnected, generally it is heated with dry woods in some areas of the city. The persons run Tandoors for baking rotis generally prefer to have these clay ovens as they are less expensive and durable in comparison with other metallic utensils of this kind.

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