Don’t you feel that the lifestyle of today’s individual is caught in the warp of time with the traditional approach gaining precedence over the modern one? What was considered old and outdated is now considered new and trendy in almost every walk of our life and the selection of the kitchen cookware is no exception in giving a whole new dimension to the way we perceive culinary science! Well! Strange are the ways of the outlook of life in shuffling the old and the new habits! This article highlights how the traditional cookware has found its empathetic stand in today’s world and is showing no signs of looking back.
A peek into its history
Let me give a quick overview of the fall and rise of the usage of traditional cookware in Indian homes. Before the dawn of the 20th century, conventional cookware was in extensive usage. With the advent of the stainless steel and the non-stick pots and pans, the focus was shifted from the earthen cookware to the more convenient ones. The modern utensils changed the outlook of cooking altogether and seemed to surpass the traditional ones mainly in storage and maintenance. But as time progressed, the trendy cookware showed lots of signs of weaknesses and posed major health hazards. This led to the more health- conscious individuals switching over to the cookware their grandparents once used. As you can see, the life of the usage of the age-old cookware has had a full life cycle in a single century! One cannot deny the fact that the taste of the masalas and the dishes which our dear grannies used to make in those days were unique and can hardly be compensated by today’s generation even by using the most modern types of equipment like the blenders and food processors. One of the major reasons for people switching over to conventional cookware may be attributed to the fact that they long for the authentic taste created by their ancestors. Here, I have tried to list down some of the cookware used by our dadis.
The main purpose of the Ammikal is to crush spices, herbs or any other ingredient on a flat stone (Ammi) with a grinding stone (kal). Without the ammiKal, the traditional kitchen ambiance will not be complete.
This stone helps to make crispy dosas, adais etc. Since this cookware retains heat for a long time, preparing crispy dosas and adais will not be a hassle.
This is a cookware used for preparing rice noodles. It has a tubular column with a circular base at the bottom to hold discs having holes of varied sizes. The batter is squeezed through the tubular column which helps in the preparation of rice noodles (sevai). Though this list can go on and on, I stop here and am sure I have given a bird’s-eye view of the types of traditional cookware.
This stone with a deep depression in the centre gives the provision for another oval stone (ural) to be put inside and grind the ingredients. A unique technique and co-ordination is required to prepare nice foaming idli/dosa batter with this cookware.
Made out of soapstone, this is a heavy and thick walled cookware ideally suited for cooking gravies. Cooking dishes with this utensil will defnitely increase the food’s taste, thereby taking the flavour of the dishes to the next level. Also, since it retains more heat, Kalchattis keep the food warm for a long time and prevent its spoilage.
Made of heavy bronze, it is a flat utensil with 4 to 5 shallow indentations used to make a popular South Indian dish called the kuzhiappam.
Pros – Why the switch?
The switch is mainly due to the health priority given by people of today’s era. Absorption of toxins by these earthen clay pots is a major benefit and these cookware’s toxic chemical contribution is nil. This is a major plus point as compared to the chemicals present in factory-produced utensils. Also, the food’s vitamins and minerals do not vanish and the exotic taste persists for longer periods.
The present generation is not deterred by the fact that the maintenance and usage of this heavy traditional cookware is not that easy. This can easily be seen from the sales of a lot of conventional cookware in the exhibition conducted by the Craft Council of India. “Today, with everything organic and handmade taking centre stage, these have become popular again. People are tired of factory-produced things and are looking for handmade, exclusive products that have a logical, scientific advantage,”the chairperson of CCI, Geeta Ram quips.
All said and done, the conventional cookware is back with a bang keeping at bay their toxin-generating modern counterparts!
By Sripriya Satish