In Quba, she is known as tandoor maker Granny Madina.
The tandoor is a deep, clay oven, often sunken into the earth native to the Caucasus, Central and South East Asia.
Madina Khidirova – her real name – was born in the village of Ispik in the province of Quba, and has been making tandoor ovens for years. She says she learnt to make the ovens from her father, who passed along his passion for the craft to her: “When I was small, my dad would make dishes from clay, even mud. I loved to help him, and I have been passionate about this line of work ever since.”
Unfortunately, her husband passed away young and her father’s death quickly followed. Granny Madina was left as the only person able to look after the household. She quickly found a solution in her passion, and began making handicrafts from mud and clay:
“I was 33 when my husband died. Later my dad passed away, too. I couldn’t just sit there without a job, so I made a pallet from mud. I made it in a short period of time. I was making pallets, and someone came over and said he wanted to buy a tandoor. I had never made one before, but I said I’d make it for him. Despite it being my first tandoor, it was very successful”.
Rising prices have affected Gran Madina’s work, too, and she has not been left behind by the economy. She used to sell tandoors for 80 – 100 manat, but now she sells them for AZN 100-150:
“Tandoors I make used to be cheap. But now I have raised the prices. Because everything is expensive. Prices of everything including goat hair, clay stones etc. have risen. I sell kebab tandoor for 100 manat, and bread tandoors for 150. This is a hard job, but I am able to overcome the hardship. It takes me 10-15 days to make just one tandoor”.
Gran Madina gives a full guarantee to the tandoors that she makes. According to her, other tandoors can be used for only a year or two, but hers can last up to 8 – 10 years.
“I use goat hair and clay stones, that is why my tandoors last longer and keep the heat for longer periods. Other tandoors go bad after a year or two of using them, my tandoors can be used for 8 to 10 years. I even receive tandoor orders from Russia and Georgia. I have earned everything by working with this mud…”