The Dhungar Method - India's Age Old Smoking Technique

The Dhungar Method - The age old Indian food smoking technique

Have you ever wondered how to infuse a delightful smoky flavor into your favorite Indian dishes? Look no further than the ancient Indian technique of Dhungar cooking. This traditional Indian method which was used by the Nawabs of Lucknow, involves adding a unique smoky touch to your food, elevating its taste and aroma to new heights. 

Dhungar is an approachable technique with incredible rewards. So the next time you want to elevate your Indian cooking, consider incorporating the magic of dhungar smoke. Your taste buds will be in for a delightful surprise.

An ancient Indian cooking technique that adds a mesmerizing smoky layer to dishes. More than just a flavoring, dhungar unlocks a whole new dimension, transforming your meals from everyday to extraordinary.

Hailing from North India, the dhungar method is used to smoke grilled meats and vegetables, curries, dals and biryani, and even seafood. The magic lies in the skillful use of smoke. Here's a breakdown of the technique:

Crafting the Smoke: The key ingredient is ghee, a clarified butter ubiquitous in Indian cooking. A small amount, about a teaspoon or so, is placed on a piece of activated natural lump charcoal in a small vessel atop the food within the main pan. 

Optional Aromatic Twist: Many chefs choose to add further nuances with the addition of fragrant accompaniments such as bay leaves, cloves or cumin seeds alongside the ghee and charcoal. 

Capturing the Smoke: The entire pan or tray is then tightly sealed with a tight-fitting lid or foil. Thus trapping the smoke and allowing it to infuse and perfume the dish.

Smoking time varies depending on the ingredient, typically ranging from 3 to 7 minutes for a butter chicken for example depending on the depth of intensity preferred.

This seemingly simple process unlocks a world of smoky possibilities - and is a great fallback for when you can't or don't wish to. Imagine succulent tandoori chicken infused with a hint of smoke, or a creamy butter chicken with an additional and unexpected depth of flavor.

Method: how to incorporate it into your cooking

Firstly ensure that your kitchen is well ventilated, a window open and your extractor fan on full - as you will not want to set off your smoke alarm! You can of course (post-smoking) take the lid off outside should you wish. 

1. Choose the right ingredients: Select dishes that can benefit from a smoky flavor, such as creamy curries, tandoori grilled meats, seafood or vegetables or biryani.

2. Prepare the charcoal: As soon as the dish is cooked and the heat has been switched off: using kitchen tongs, heat a piece of natural charcoal on an open flame, or with a kitchen blow torch until it turns red-hot. Please do ensure there are no chemicals in your charcoal.

3. Create the smoking vessel: Take a small metal bowl, or a piece of thick foil fashioned into a shallow bowl, or even a peeled and hollowed out onion - rest that on the top of the dish - and immediately place the hot charcoal in it.

4. Infuse the smoke: Carefully pour a small amount of ghee or butter over the charcoal, causing it to release smoke. Immediately cover the dish with a lid to trap the smoke inside.

5. Let it rest: Allow the dish to rest for a few minutes, allowing the smoky flavours to penetrate the food.

6. Enjoy the smoky goodness: Remove the lid and savour the delightful smoky aroma that wafts from the dish. Serve and enjoy!

Next time you want to add a smoky twist to your culinary creations, give the Dhungar cooking technique a try. Its simplicity and remarkable results will leave you and your guests impressed. Embrace the ancient tradition and elevate your dishes to new heights of flavour.

Which of our recipes to try it with

Try The Dungar Method with any of our recipes. It is excellent for our Old Delhi Butter Chicken, Shahi Chicken Masala, and Dal Palak. Plus any of the dishes you can make with our Great Indian Grill Collection or Master Grill Collection: Masala Chops, Seekh Kebabs, Tandoori King Prawns or any of our Tandoori recipes

Try Dhungar Cocktails

Dhungar Smoked Old Fashioned

Armed with a cake stand or large wooden board and glass dome lid you can even smoke a cocktail or two using this method - just place the cocktail and the bowl with ghee and coal next to each other and cover. It not only adds that smoky magic, but also makes for good kitchen or bar theatre!