Traditional Indian cooking makes use of a variety of utensils in the kitchen. They are made of different metals and alloys, ranging from stainless steel and aluminum to iron and brass. Modern invention has now placed Teflon coated non-stick cookware in Indian kitchens as well.
People who aren’t acquainted with Indian cooking often hold the view that they need special utensils and equipments to cook up an Indian meal. That is definitely not the case. Most of what you need for Indian cooking is bound to be available in your kitchen and what you don’t have can easily by substituted by cookware that is somewhat similar in nature.
That said, there is certainly no harm in familiarizing yourself with some of the more important utensils you expect to see in an Indian kitchen – just for the sake of curiosity, you know. Here are some of the commonly used utensils in Indian cooking.
Chakla Belan – Round rolling board and rolling pin
Curious where your favorite Indian breads like parantha and rotis come from? They are rolled out on a flat platform known as the “chakla” (the rolling board) with the help of the “belan” (the rolling pin). Typically made from wood or marble, the chakla and belan are the soul of
any Indian kitchen.
A “kadhai” can be best described as an Indian wok, except that it is neither so deep nor so big. Kadhais are used for the purpose of deep frying, usually reserved to make a variety of Indian snacks like “pakoda” or “samosa”. Although available in stainless steel and brass, most Indians prefer kadhais made from iron or aluminum, although more and more people are switching to the non-stick varieties as well for the sake of convenience.
Pauni – Indian frying spoon with long handle
While frying an Indian snack, you would need a “pauni” – a perforated spoon - to drain out all the excess oil from the food.
Traditionally made of clay, modern day handis are made from alloys of copper, steel or brass. This circular pot has a thick bottom while a clay saucer functions as the lid. The traditional means of cooking in a handi required the lid to be sealed with a paste made from flour and water, while the food inside was cooked on hot charcoals or open fire. Some dishes required charcoals to be placed on the lid as well to distribute the heat more evenly. This method of cooking is referred to as “dum pukht”.
A “degchi” is one of the most commonly used utensils in the Indian kitchen. Extremely versatile in nature, it is just as perfect for cooking dals, sauces, and rice pudding as it is for making biryanis. This deep, round dish has a narrow neck and a thick, broad base and is traditionally made from copper or brass.
“Chimta”, also known as “pakkad”, are tongs that are used to handle a hot utensil when you are cooking. In addition, they can also be used to roast papads and rotis on an open flame. While traditionally chimtas were made from iron, modern ones are stainless steel.
The closest thing to a tawa that the Western world has is a skillet or a griddle. This Indian tawa is slightly concave in nature, though, and is used to make breads like chapattis, paranthas, pancakes, and omelets. Although traditionally made from heavy iron or aluminum, modern non-stick tawas that are lighter in weight and easier to clean are fast making their way into Indian kitchens.
The “hamam dasta”, or the mortar and pestle are used to pulverize or coarsely grind whole spices and herbs to make spice mixtures and pastes for seasoning food. Unlike a food processor, a hamam dasta, traditionally made from granite or wood, only tears and shreds ingredients, thereby retaining the flavor and fragrance of ingredients.