Not All Cookware is Equal… or is it?
Actually… as things turned out, it pretty much is.
If you were to take a gander at some of the modern cookware available for sale in modern stores around the world, and then have a look at some of the more traditional, old-fashioned options for preparing a typical example of Indian cuisine, you would find that the two options are more or less equivalent in function and value The quality of the cuisine that you’re preparing is far more heavily reliant upon the availability of the proper seasonings and the skill and experience of the chef than on the particulars of the equipment being used.
Here are few examples of said cookware.
The first item is called a Chaki belon, which is more or less a rolling pin and pastry board. Often times these products are made from wood, though there have been occasional differences and alterations, and the Chaki belon is used for flat breads like puri and paratha. It’s little different, truth be known, from the average rolling pin and pastry board used by modern cooks the world over.
The Dechki is a pot used for boiling, with a lid that is conformed to fit over the top for added boiling and pressure, and the design allows for the pot to distribute heat evenly among the entire inner surface. In modern times, this product is made from aluminium. Curiously, there are examples of a modern Dechki which have been manufactured without a handle; this might explain its being fashioned from aluminium, allowing the exterior of the pot to cool off quickly.
The next item we’re going to look at is very much the same as what many traditional Italians would find in their kitchen, and it has two names: the Jhanjri, and the Chhanta. Ultimately, it’s it’s just a giant spoon with holes in it, almost like a strainer. This utensil is used for deep frying – as with its American descendants; such cookware comes in a variety of styles in America. In India, the design and use is pretty simple and straightforward. The product might be manufactured out of aluminium in the present day, but brass, iron and steel have long been used – and are still current.
The next tool has some unique properties to it, and even shares traditional roots in China, though the Chinese have their own alternatives as well. The Handi is made out of brass, and shaped like a bowl with a lid on the top. Used for cooking both rice and meat, the origins of the Handi are deeply seated in India; clay versions going back thousands of years have been found by historians and archaeologists in the region. It can also be made from aluminium and steel, as both provide good heat conduction and improve upon the heat distribution provided by more ancient materials.
The final item we’re going to look at today is what chefs the world over would recognize as a spatula, which in India is called a Khunti. It is often crafted of metal, though it doesn’t have to be; in ancient times, even wood was used. As with most other items of Indian cookware, the modern version might see brass, aluminium, iron, and steel put to use in its construction, but the shape is largely the same as in days long lost to prehistory.
So there we have just a few traditional cooking equipment used for Indian meal preparation. It is remarkable to think about how far some of the designs for these items managed to travel, in the ancient world – and to ponder on the old adage that “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”
Of course, there’s little need to improve upon perfection.