Indian cuisine is a vibrant tapestry of flavors and aromas, and mastering the art of Indian cooking requires the right tools and utensils. In this article, we explore a variety of traditional and modern Indian cooking tools that are indispensable for preparing authentic Indian dishes.
From prepping ingredients to cooking and serving delightful meals, these tools play a vital role in every Indian kitchen.
Tools for Cooking Indian Food
Stainless Steel Saucepans
A medium stainless steel saucepan is perfect for preparing South Indian gravies and curries. Opt for stainless steel over nonstick cookware for an authentic touch.
Kadai (Indian Wok)
The kadai, a versatile Indian wok, is a staple in Indian kitchens, widely used for deep-frying popular snacks like appalam/papad, poori, vada, and bajji. Its deep design and flat base make it ideal for these fried delicacies, but it’s equally adept at preparing gravies and stir-fries.
The traditional kadai, often used as large cooking pots at festivals and weddings throughout India, features a time-tested design with riveted plates forming a bowl shape and sturdy carrying handles.
However, certain foods should not be cooked in an iron kadai. Tamarind-based dishes and citric foods are not recommended to be cooked in cast iron or iron cookware. The acidic properties of these foods can cause the release of excessive iron into the food, imparting a slightly bitter taste to other foods. To avoid this, it’s advisable to cook such dishes in alternative cookware.
Additionally, any food cooked in ironware should be promptly transferred to another vessel to prevent prolonged contact with the iron surface. By following these guidelines, you can ensure the longevity and effectiveness of your iron kadai while enjoying a wide range of delectable Indian dishes.
How to Take Care of Indian Iron Cast Cooking Tools
To cook effectively in a cast iron pan, ensure you preheat it on low or medium flame while you prepare other ingredients. A well-heated pan prevents food from sticking.
After cooking, wash the pan using hot or lukewarm water, avoiding cold water on a hot pan. Dry it with a paper towel, apply cooking oil, and store it in the cupboard. Proper heating and care ensure your cast iron frying pan stays non-stick and in excellent condition.
A prized possession in traditional Indian kitchens, a good tawa (pan) is invaluable and often passed down through generations. Typically made of cast iron or aluminum, modern versions come with nonstick coatings.
To maintain its quality, rub the tawa with gingelly oil and soak it in washed rice water for a week, ensuring golden brown dosas without sticking. Before making dosas, rub the tawa with half an onion for a perfect finish. For fluffy rotis, heat the tawa, sprinkle salt, switch off the open flame, wipe it, and grease it with oil after cooling.
The tawa’s versatility shines in preparing dosas, thin and crispy South Indian pancakes made from fermented lentils, whole spices, and rice.
Whether you’re making dosas or other flatbreads like sweet obbattu or akkiroti, a round griddle, preferably pre-seasoned cast iron or electric, ensures the ideal result. With a tawa, you’re not just making rotis or dosas; you’re crafting culinary perfection.
To make the special puttu of Kerala, a puttu steamer is essential. It consists of a pot for steaming and a cylindrical container filled with rice flour and coconut. The steam cooks the puttu, creating a unique cylindrical shape.
Indian cooking relies heavily on a variety of spice powders and whole spices. Creating delicious and authentic Indian cuisine hinges on carefully balancing whole and ground spices. One essential tool for achieving this balance is a high-quality spice grinder. Fresh homemade spice blends not only enhance the taste and flavors of your dishes but also offer a more economical option compared to store-bought counterparts.
Investing in a reliable spice grinder like this not only elevates your culinary creations but also represents excellent value for money.
By grinding your spices at home, you unlock a world of vibrant flavors, ensuring that your Indian dishes are always bursting with freshness and authenticity.
Fresh coconut is a staple in South Indian cuisine, used in masalas, stir-fries, and chutneys. A coconut scraper or grater is essential for extracting fresh coconut, although shredded coconut from the supermarket can be a convenient alternative.
The Tadka Pan, an indispensable tool in Indian kitchens, is specifically designed for heating spices for seasoning. Its heavy-gauge construction ensures superior heat distribution, making it stovetop-compatible. Resilient to heat, this pan heats faster and cooks food evenly without spoiling.
Tadka, a process involving seasoning spices in hot oil, not only enhances the dish’s flavor and aroma but also offers certain nutritional benefits. For instance, tempering cumin in hot oil can aid with indigestion and acidity, while tempering curry contributes to the body’s immune system.
Beyond its culinary benefits, the Tadka Pan ensures easy access for cooking and cleaning, making it a versatile addition to the kitchen.
Dishes like dal, sambhar, dhokla, curd rice, and lemon rice are complete with the aromatic touch of tadka. This pan is an essential tool in our daily cooking routine, enriching our meals with many dishes with authentic flavors and health benefits.
This particular pan has molds for steaming paniyaram, a dough made of black lentils and rice. It is the small pan that can also prepare other regional delicacies like unni appams and shallow-fried snacks.
If you’re passionate about making homemade Indian roti or Paratha, investing in an Indian rolling pin, also known as “Belan” in Hindi and “Latne” in Marathi, is essential. Unlike the larger, heavier rolling pins used in baking, the belan is smaller, lighter, and more affordable. Crafted from lightweight wood, this indispensable tool is thinner and lighter than its American counterpart.
The belan is a staple in every Indian kitchen, serving a vital role in shaping chapatis, rotis (unleavened flatbreads), and puris (deep-fried flatbreads) before they are cooked. Its simplicity and effectiveness ensure the preparation of perfectly thin and round breads for every meal.
Embracing the traditional techniques with the belan allows for creating authentic and delicious Indian bread, enhancing the culinary experience in your kitchen.
Idli Racks and Idli Steamer
Idli racks, made of stainless steel, are traditionally used to steam idli batter, creating those fluffy, round idlis. These racks can also be used for cooking sweet dumplings (kozhukattai) and other delicacies.
A Sancha machine features a distinctive and convenient design for preparing various popular Indian snacks. It allows you to effortlessly create different types of snacks, such as Sevaiya, Sev, Gathiya, Murukku, and Chakli.
The machine must come equipped with different types of interchangeable jalis, ensuring the perfect blend of snacks with each use. These jalis, crafted from the same durable stainless steel material, enhance the machine’s versatility and durability, making it a valuable addition to any kitchen.
This tool, traditionally made of brass and now commonly stainless steel, is used to shape and fry snacks. Modern rotating murukku presses are convenient and produce consistent shapes for deep-fried snacks.
A masala box, a masala dabbi, is a popular spice storage container widely used in Indian kitchens. Typically, it consists of a round or square box with several small measuring cups inside, usually seven, each for a different spice. Modern versions feature transparent lids, allowing users to see the contents, and often come with a small accompanying spoon.
These circular steel containers store essential spices such as turmeric, cumin seed, cardamom, coriander seed, garam masala, chile powder, and black mustard seeds, all neatly organized under a single lid.
In Indian households, masala dabbas are not just storage units; they are cherished items where spices are kept and valued. Despite their simple design, these boxes hold significant importance. Their compact and portable nature, along with the ability to customize the spices inside, makes them beloved additions to any kitchen.
Karahi Serving Dish
A karahi, kadai, or kadhai is a round, thick pot widely used in Indian, Afghan, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Nepalese cuisines. Resembling a wok, this traditional circular pan is a staple in Asian cooking, particularly in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
In Indian restaurants, it is typically made from premium-quality copper on the exterior. It features a stainless steel interior and sturdy solid brass handles, combining functionality and aesthetics in its design.
A box grater is a versatile kitchen tool featuring four sides, each with a different type of grating surface. It is commonly used in most households for grating various foods, such as cheese, vegetables, and fruits.
In South Indian kitchens, where fresh coconut is a staple ingredient for masalas, stir-fries, and chutneys, box graters are invaluable. However, they require thorough cleaning, making a handy slicer and hand grater more convenient alternatives.
Another option is the microplane grater, which offers efficient grating with minimal effort.
A garlic press, often called a garlic crusher, is a kitchen gadget crafted to crush garlic cloves effectively. Its mechanism involves pressing the cloves through a grid of small holes, typically using a piston-like device.
This utensil streamlines the task of mincing garlic, making the process quicker and more convenient for cooks in the kitchen.
Perforated Ladles and Slotted Spoons
These utensils are indispensable for deep-frying, allowing excess hot oil to drain away and ensuring crispy snacks.
A must-have in almost every Indian kitchen, a pressure cooker significantly reduces cooking time and ensures perfectly cooked rice, lentils, and steamed vegetables. You can use your new tools to try some delicious Indian recipes.
The Instant Pot is a versatile kitchen appliance with an electric pressure cooker, slow cooker, yogurt maker, rice cooker, sauté pot, steamer, and more. Its multi-functional capabilities make it a valuable addition to any kitchen. Indian dishes, including dals, curries, rice, and meat dishes, often have enhanced taste and texture when prepared in the Instant Pot compared to traditional stovetop pressure cookers. Its convenient features and improved cooking results make it a popular choice for cooking various Indian recipes.
In Indian cooking, having the right tools is as essential as having ingredients. Whether you’re preparing classic South Indian recipes or experimenting with regional variations, these essential Indian cooking tools will help you create authentic, flavorful dishes that capture the essence of Indian cuisine. Embrace the rich culinary traditions of India and elevate your cooking with these indispensable tools in your kitchen. Happy cook