Artisan tandoors

Demand for traditional clay ovens defies winter slowdown

DUHOK – There has been a significant uptick in demand for traditional Kurdish tandoors made in rural areas of the Duhok governorate this year, despite the typically slower winter season.

Located in the Derealok’s Berchi Village, a group of 10 women has dedicated themselves to the craft of making clay tandoors for over three decades. This year, they’ve seen a notable uptick in orders, with customers booking their handmade ovens weeks ahead of time.

Zulfa Berchi, a craftsman among the group, told 964media, “We rely on this craft for our livelihood. Each of us can produce up to two tandoors daily. The demand has skyrocketed this year, prompting early reservations from our customers.”

The tandoor-making process is detailed and involves several steps: starting with clay purification, shaping the clay, and then the crucial drying phase. The foundation is set first, followed by the construction of the walls, and lastly, crafting the vents.

“Every day, we manage to create over 25 Kurdish tandoors. Winter poses more of a challenge due to the cold, slowing down the drying process, whereas summer offers quicker drying times because of the heat,” Zulfa Berchi added.

The cost of these tandoors varies with size, ranging from 20,000 Iraqi dinars (about $13.70 USD) to 200,000 dinars ($137 USD), a reflection of the labor-intensive nature and cultural significance of these traditional ovens.

As the season shifts from winter to summer, the artisans of Berchi Village persist in their time-honored trade, catering to the growing demand for a slice of Kurdish culinary tradition, one tandoor at a time.