Barbecuing successfully after returning to India (2nd try)

Building a barbecue in India - making holesBuilding a barbecue in India - welding the legsBuilding a barbecue in India - welding the grill Building a barbecue in India - behold man's will
Barbecuing in India - Vegetables20110203-IMG_8110-2Barbecuing in India - Garlicy tomatoes with goat cheese

Last week, I headed to a local metal shop to construct a grill from scratch – armed with metal bowls called ‘Tasla’ (otherwise used by construction labor to carry cement), metal beams (otherwise used to make bookshelves) and a lot of enthusiasm. My last try at barbecuing with a gas tandoor didn’t make my heart sing but this time it was going to be different.

3 hours of welding and 2 cups of sweat later, I had 4 spanking new barbecue grills – ghetto style!

Constructing a barbecue grill after R2I

Building a barbecue in India - making holesThis tasla/bowl will hold the charcoal. The holes allow the ash to fall into another tasla/bowl below. In hindsight, the holes aren’t very useful (see suggested improvements below).

Building a barbecue in India - welding the legsWelding three legs on to the tasla/bowl brings it up to waist height.

Building a barbecue in India - welding the legsThe square grill is made of heat conducting metal (supposedly) so everything cooks evenly. The handles get hot too, so we’ll need mittens.

Building a barbecue in India - behold man's will500 years from now, this masterpiece will remind generations of man’s will to barbeque for time immemorial.

I was feeling lazy to bargain so I overpaid slightly – $55 (Rs2500) for all 4, everything included.


barbeque in my deck in Gurgaon, India

I wish you could hear the music. Or my heart sing. This BBQ rocks.

Barbecuing in India - VegetablesAs you’d expect from vegetarians, we barbecue broccoli and onions in herbs. Yum!

Barbecuing in India - VegetablesZucchini, tomatoes, broccoli, olives and green peppers tossed in balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Barbecuing in India - Garlicy tomatoes with goat cheeseRoasted garlic and tomatoes with a scoop of goat cheese in the center. You can chase the runny cheese with your bread.


Charcoal

We use wood coal – its black like coal but in shapes of tree twigs and branches. They are sold everywhere on Delhi roads and are inexpensive. It has proved to be better than regular coal in many respects – it lights up more easily, doesn’t smoke as much and stays warm for long enough for barbecuing. It’s also more widely available than regular coal.

Oil

We used to cook in la-di-da olive oil until we read an article on the New York Times about cooked/heated olive oil tasting the same or worse when compared to other oils. Now we barbeque and cook in regular vegetable oil and sprinkle olive oil at the end.

Recipes

An outstanding place to start for vegetarians and non-vegetarians: 101 Fast Recipes for Grilling by the Minimalist on the New York Times.

Suggested improvements for future home made grills

  • Grill: The wire mesh should have 1/2 inch squares. My grill makes 1 inch squares. Smaller pieces of  broccoli fall to their death quite easily because of it.
  • Stand: The stand should be independent of the bowl. The stand should have a ring at the top where the bowl can be dropped. This way, you can get another set of charcoal ready and easily change it with a dying set of coal with minimal interruption during the cook out.
  • Metal bowl: The holes on the first bowl that are supposed to let ash fall down are quite useless – after a full night of barbecuing, less than a teaspoon had fallen into the lower bowl. If you want holes for oxygen, 4-6 holes will be enough.
  • Stand: Instead of a second bowl below the coal to catch falling ash, it will be better to connect the 3 legs at the bottom using the metal beams in a Mercedes Benz logo. This system is used in video tripods. You could then put a sack of sand or something heavy over this Benz, guaranteeing that the apparatus will not topple over easily. It’s not unsteady as is, but with burning charcoal on the top, extra precaution can’t be a bad thing.
  • Cover: I’ve been using a spare “Tasla”, the same bowl that was welded on to the legs, as a cover. I would recommend getting the white metal Tasla for cover instead of the black metal since it doesn’t corrode as much and is easier to keep clean.

Comments

5 local comments so far.
  1. Balaji,

    Super duper!!!! Love handy peeps. We make our own Ikea assembables from scrap!!!

    Super idea. I will try it too! And, of course the Zucchini looks yummy! slurp!

  2. Akshay Mathur,

    Glad you have a grill for yourself now. Next winters we will sit outside, eat and sing old hindi songs :). You should atleast mention where the idea came from … :)

    • Now that you are forcing my hand to give you credit – I did see something at a beautiful farm in Ajmer, Rajasthan one night that jogged my thinking :)

      Thanks Mr. Mathur.

  3. Harinder,

    Impressive! The food sure looks yummy!

    • Prashant Jeloka,

      Wow. Harry maam gave me a “Star” on my homework this time (She teased me on the first attempt at barbecuing). Makes my day!

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