Sunday, July 11, 2010

An Experiment with a home made Wood fired Pizza Oven

For a long time now i have been fascinated by Wood Fired Pizza Ovens. Then while on a Cycling trip in the Himalayas, i came across one at a friend's Hotel in Naggar Village in Kullu. Now this guy makes amazing Pizzas & you can get one for as little as 75 bucks ( thats INR) . When i was there for a day of chilling out post the cycling trip, he showed me his oven which he'd made himself after an Italian tourist taught him to make Pizzas. Since then i have been obsessed with making one for myself..

I looked a lot of designs on the Internet & they were far too elaborate & took up quite some space. We have a lot trees & plants in our garden, so i didn't have the luxury of too much space. So i decided to come up with a improvisation of my own which could fit into the space i had which was about 2ft X 1.5 ft.

I built the first version of this improvised oven last week. This was a simple modification of the Barbecue I had made earlier out of a piece of scrap cement pipe..

V 1.0 The Barbecue
This was just the pipe with a wire mesh put above & below it , with some bricks underneath.

First run of the Barbecue. Paneer !

V 1.1 The Pizza Oven
In this case I made a foundation of stones & mud & raised a brick fire chamber on which I placed the Wire mesh. On top of it went the pipe. Above it another wire mesh & finally an old dome shaped vessel ( Ghamela ) which I placed inverted.

Getting the oven ready for the first bake...

The insides of the pipe & vessel I coated with a mixture of mud & cow dung ( the fresh variety not being available I used Cow Dung manure or shenkhat )

Oven 1.0 hours after being fired. The mud did not hold up..

The outside was also coated in a similar manner, sealing all gaps except for the ones kept in the fire chamber for air. This design was missing a chimney but I supposed that the air gaps in the fire chamber should be enough.

The Test

One thing that I should have done is let the mug all dry before lighting the oven..but I didnt have the time as we had guests coming over the same evening so it had to be lit before it could properly dry off.. This led to some of the mud falling off due to un even drying due to the heat.

One small problem we found in the design was that it was a bit tough to get the fire started as the fire chamber was very cramped. But this wasn't a big issues as once the fire was lit it was fairly easy to maintain it.

We primarily used the kernels of coconut & waste from Coconut trees as fuel . ( Naralachya Shendya ani zadachya phandya) .The waste from the trees falls of regularly & we have three trees of coconut so this fuel is easily available . Plus the kernels are discarded when we peel the coconuts so they can be used as well.

Our first Pizza ! Just after we took it out of the Oven V1.0

We discovered that the major issue in the design was that A. The wiremesh was too close to the fire & B. That the heat from below was way too high than the heat from the flue gasses trapped in the baking chamber. We tried to mitigate this by putting a tin tray under the pizzas but it wasn't as effective as we thought . The result was that we had to be very careful about the timing of keeping them inside . But still a lot of the pizzas got burnt on the underside if we tried to make sure that they were cooked well up top.

So we decided that the design had to be modified. We were not gonna give up on this since the taste of the pizzas though burnt was absolutely amazing !

V 1.2 Pizza Oven with Design Improvements

The oven in a side view with the chimney at the rear end

In this case, I made 3 major changes.
A. The size & height of the burning chamber was increased. Above this the wire mesh was placed.
B. On top of the mesh, I placed a flat piece of stone tile above the burning chamber which would be used to keep the pizza to be baked. This was placed such that about 40% of the burning chamber was covered by the tile while the rest of the mesh was clear.
C. On the extreme end of the burning chamber ( opposite to the place I kept the tile) , I fixed a small dia cement pipe on the mesh to act as the chimney.

The above image shows the burning & the baking chambers

Finally the main pipe which would serve as the baking chamber & the tile were covered with the mud dung mixture & on top went the inverted Ghamela. Finally it was all covered with a layer of the dung mud mix.

My Brother, Pranav applying the finishing touches to the oven after sealing the top

This one is still to be tested. But we hope that this improvement should do the trick !

Monday, March 29, 2010

Work @train

Never though i would be so impressed by a train ! I think this 'Gareeb Rath' - The Poor man's Chariot is one of India's first fully Air conditioned train with super facilities & super cheap tickets..

Needing to travel on a workday , i needed to get some work done during the journey..
Here's some pics from my work from train

Monday, February 1, 2010

Chocolate Truffle Cake

Dont think i have ever blogged about my cooking before.. So here goes..

Made a Chocolate truffle cake last Sunday..

3 Main Steps

A. Make a chocolate Sponge Cake
B. Make Chocolate Truffle &
C. Cut the cake & fill it & layer it with the truffle.. & Decorate it with something like strawberries..

P.S. Strawberries in the cake are from our terrace patch..

Will upload a video of the whole process soon..

A few pics in the meantime..

Didnt turn out as pretty as i would have liked it to be.. But tasted great none the less..

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Email Campaigns & Google Analytics .. some scribbles

I needed to use of Google Analytics with email campaigns to help analyze the effectiveness of the campaigns.. So here are some scribbles & notes which might help anyone needing to do something similar..

I am going to use a email campaign we were creating to promote one of our Products 'JBolo!' a chatting extension for Joomla..

Normally i would have linked the 'Buy Now' Button, Image of the Product & read more, with the following plain link :

Now in order that Google Analytics understands the parameters to use to differentiate this from the other stats, we shall pass some additional variables to the link..

A. The Link given to the product image

Now what are all these 'utm_'s ?

Lets see what google has to say on its blog about email tracking..
This is the explanation they provide.

Name Description Examples
Campaign Name
Name of the email marketing campaign. Email News,
Email Promo 14 April 2009,
Email Newsletter May 2009
Campaign Source Use Campaign Source to identify who distributed your email newsletter. If you are sending your own email campaign then use your own company name. If you advertise in other email newsletters then use the name of the particular company sending that newsletter.
Campaign Medium Set Campaign Medium as 'email' for all your email marketing campaigns. email
Campaign Content (optional) If you have multiple calls to action within your email, use different Campaign Content tags to see which version drives more visitors. 20% Discount Offer,
New Product Information,
Support Services
Campaign Term (optional) If you have different types of links (e.g. text, buttons, images, etc.) use a different Campaign Term for each type. Product Image,
Read More Button,
Text Link

So in our case of the Product image, it was something like this :

Name variable Examples
Campaign Name
utm_campaign Jbolo Promotion
Campaign Source utm_source phplist
Campaign Medium utm_medium email
Campaign Content (optional) utm_content 20% Discount
Campaign Term (optional) utm_term product image

So this is how the final url is constructed.

You can find a generator for such urls here :

Sources :

I hope to post some more info on the Google Analytics API soon..