I have been always fond of collecting different types of props for my photography. Be it a traditional one or modern utensils made of stainless steel / copper / aluminium. I have compiled a list of common cooking tools, equipment, cookwares used in every Indian household. I do hope that bachelors / spinsters / newly married may find this list useful. Along with the stainless steel utensils, I also have shared the pictures of traditional utensils which are vanished from our day to day life. On my last trip to Karaikudi, I took few pictures of the utensils which were used in the past.
Few weeks back, I got a request from one of my reader to share the cookwares used for Indian cooking as she was very interested to learn about Indian cooking. I had been working on this list since then and collected the items as far as possible. Please leave your comments / feedback here if you find something is missing in this list or you want to add some more items. I shall try to keep the page updated with more items in future.
These items are known as Padi (in Tamil) and used to measure rice & lentils. Now we get these made of brass & stainless steel. I got this rustic ones from my grandma and in-laws. In modern cooking, plastic and stainless steel measuring cups and spoons are used. The aluminium measuring cup in the second image is used to measure milk and other liquid ingredients. For the same purpose, you can use plastic or glass measuring containers.
Peeling, Grating, Cutting, Slicing & Mashing
The first image is of Bonti ( in Hindi) or Aruvamanai (in Tamil), which is mainly used to cut vegetables, meat, fish & scrape coconut. The wooden base acts as a support to the vertically fixed sharp knife. The uppermost part of knife is used to scrape coconut. It sure requires good practice to perfect the skill of scraping coconut. The person has to sit down on the floor, and press the wooden base with their foot/knee to maintain balance. It requires good balance to cut the vegetables perfectly. The person has to hold the vegetable at it tip ends with both hands and slide it against knife. I have also shared the image of vegetable peeler and stainless steel grater, which is used to make thin slices of potato (for chips, bhaji), raw banana (to prepare bhaji) and grate vegetables. Aruvamanai also comes in different shapes.
Made of wood & used as carving board for Appalam / Papad
This tool is used to mash vegetables (potato, peas, cauliflower,etc.) for paav bhaji, to prepare stuffing for paratha & to mash fruits for jam
This flower shaped mold is used to prepare Achu Murukku / Achappam / Rose Cookies. Various precautions need to be followed while using this mold. The mold should always be hot while preparing murukku from whole batter. Before you dip the mold in batter, keep the mold in hot oil for a minute. Also if the batter sticks in the mold and hardens, then take a minute and clean the mold carefully and proceed. Please check this recipe to get more details.
This is a very essential tool in indian kitchen. Murukku / Chakli press comes in stainless steel, wood, brass & plastic materials. I always feel comfortable with the steel ones. You can prepare murukku, ribbon pakoda, idiyappam, sevai with this mold.
Muram / Winnow, made of plastic, comes in different sizes. They are also made of silver, brass and bamboo. I’m not an expert in this, but have seen mom & in-laws using it often to remove dust particles / small stones from grains by throwing them into the air. The thin air will blow off the dust particles & grains will fall off on murram. They are also used to dry the ingredients (onion, garlic, peanuts, dry red chilies, coriander seeds, etc..). I will try to post the picture of the one made of bamboo later.
Wide mouth round bowls / besan is used to prepare roti dough & also serves many purposes like mixing cake batter, can be used to prepare dough for idiyappam, murukku, for mixing rice with paste to prepare lemon rice, tamarind rice, bread dough etc. Some also use paraat (hammered steel / copper / aluminium / brass wide plates) for kneading roti dough. Chakli & Belan (rolling pin & board) for rolling thin or thick paratha, roti, chapati, pizza, poori, biscuits, etc.. They are made of wood, marble & steel. The wood ones are easy to handle as they give good grip and doesn’t move while rolling.
Grinding Section / Preparing Masala
Here comes my most favorite Masala Grinding Stone (Ammikallu), made of stone. Designed to grind masala paste for veg and non-veg curries. This can also be used to prepare thick chutney / thogaiyal / dip sauce. It comes in all size. Unlike mixie / food processor, the masala prepared with ammikallu leaves an unique authentic flavor. It sure takes time to grind the paste (for beginners), but once you perfect the skill of grinding masala, you will never go back to mixie.
Mixie / Grinder / Food Processor, helping hand for modern women in kitchen. In modern day cooking, masala grinding stones have taken a back step and replaced by electric mixer primarily due to the time it takes. The Mixie performs too many tasks like grinding masala, chutney, preparing idli / dosa batter, vadai batter, sometimes juice, buttermilk,etc.. It comes with jars of different sizes to perform various tasks.
1. Flat Ladle / Dosa Karandi / Palta / Turner, made of stainless steel, ever-silver, wood & silicon ( used while preparing dosa, roti, chapati, fish, cutlet, omelet,etc). Palta made from stainless steel cannot be used in nonstick cookwares, as they scratch the surface. Palta made from wood or silicon can be used in any type of cookwares.
2. Mattu / Churner / Ghotni, made of stainless steel and wood. The traditional ones are made from wood. They are used to churn buttermilk.
3. Tong ( for serving poori, salad, sandwich, etc.), comes in different sizes and made of stainless steel & silicon.
1. Cooking Oil Strainer / Filter, helps to strain / filter the oil while preparing pakoda, bhaji, boondi, vadai, bonda & other fritters. It also comes in different size & made of stainless steel & silicon.
2. Hand Whisk / Mixer, helps to beat egg mixture (for omelet), for making cake batter, dhokla batter & other wet batter.
3. Coffee Strainer, made from stainless steel, can also be used to strain coconut milk.
4. Lemon Squeezer, made of stainless steel, aluminium, brass, wood & plastic.
5. Wooden Churner / Kadaisal, a special churner made from wood to mash dal, keerai (green leaf vegetables) & other vegetables.
Picture 3 & 4. Round Ladles / Karandi to serve curry, made from stainless steel, wood & silicon.
Picture 5. Pauni / Perforated Spoon / Jharani / Jharo, made of stainless steel & silicon, used to prepare deep fried food items. The holes in the spoon helps to drain the oil.
Man Paanai / Clay Pot, made from clay, comes in different sizes and shapes, used to prepare fish curry, keerai kuzhambu & other veg / non-veg curries. Food cooked in mud pots possess more nutritional benefits than cooked in nonstick pan or steel vessels. Clay pots keep the food warm for longer time and there is no need to reheat the food. Do not use soap or detergent to wash the pot. Scrub it with brush and wash with warm water. The earthy smell of clay pots gives a distinct flavor to dish.
Idli Cooking Vessel / Idli Steamer, comes with idli plates & large pot to be filled with water, which acts as a steamer. I have used both aluminium and stainless steel based idli steamers. The aluminium idli plates has holes in each cups as shown in the picture. So you cannot pour the batter directly into those cups. Instead, spread a thick wet handkerchief or cotton cloth & pour batter. The stainless steel plates doesn’t have holes in it so there is not need to use any cloth. If you are using the stainless steel plates make sure to grease it with little oil. The idli steamer can also be used to prepare steamed cakes, brownies, idiyappam, muthia, bread, kozhukattai, vadakari and other steamed dishes.
Steamer Pot, made from stainless steel, used to steam vegetables, fish, meat, lentils, prepare steamed desserts like pudding, cake, brownie & bread. You can also use it to prepare dhokla, khandvi, idiyappam, muthia, steamed vada, kozhukattai, idli, etc.. Fill the bottom pot with water and use the upper pot to steam the dishes. Idiyappam & regular and mini Idli plates are sold separately, which can be used here.
Tawa / Flat Pan / Dosa Kallu, made of stainless, aluminium, iron & non stick, comes in different size. The iron / aluminium tawa are very thick and perfect to fry fish, prepare roti & chapati. I have been using nonstick tawa to prepare dosa, oothappam, pancake, half boiled egg, omelet & shallow fried cutlet.
Paniyaram Kallu / Pan, made of cast iron & teflon coated nonstick. The number of paniyaram cups vary for different sizes. It also comes with a needle like wooden stick to remove paniyaram from pan. The cast iron pan require more oil to fry, whereas nonstick pan requires very less oil. You can use the same pan to prepare low fat vadai, bonda, kola urundai, pakoda, etc..
Pressure Cooker, one of the best equipment which saves me lot of time. They come in different size & quantity. I have been using 2 liter, 5 liter & 7 liter cooker. Used to prepare curry, dal, sambar, soup, biryani, pulao, payasam, porridge, pongal, khichdi, etc..
Cast Iron, Aluminium, Indolium, Non Stick Wok / Kadai, the cast iron pans / thick bottomed iron kadai are best to prepare indian style curries. They are available in different shapes and sizes. Chimta / Stainless steel tongs are used to hold the wok while cooking.
Chiratta Puttu Maker, made of stainless steel, serves one person. This puttu maker can be fixed on top of a pressure cooker lid after removing its weight. Kuzha Puttu Maker comes with a steamer and serves more than 2 persons.
Stainless Steel Mesh, used to roast roti / indian flat bread, papad directly over flame to give charred look.
1. Tiffin Thattu / Breakfast / Dinner Plate, made of stainless steel, comes in different shapes and sizes. This is a two divider tiffin plate. Each section serves its own purpose. Usually, chutney or pickle or raita is served in small section. The medium sized section is used for sambar, dal or any other veg / non veg curries. The large section is for idli, dosa, roti, upma, khichdi, poori or pongal. The plate also comes with more than 3 or 4 dividers.
2. Lunch Plate / Thali / Saapadu Thattu, made of stainless steel or brass. The plate will be flat with straight rims. The bottom will have either steel or copper finish. Small stainless or brass bowls are used to serve sambar, kootu, rasam, curd, poriyal / sabzi, kurma, kara kuzhambu, mor kuzhambu, dessert like payasam, kesari, gulab jamun, and the list goes on. Each cuisines of India have their own list of items to be served in thali.
1. Pickle Jars / Jaadi / Bharani, made of ceramic and porcelain, comes in different shapes and sizes. The same jaadi can be used to store salt, dry spices and masala powders.
2. Serving Ladles / Kuzhambu Karandi, these round ladles are made of aluminium, stainless steel, brass and wood. They are used to serve curry and other side dishes.
3. Tiffin Carrier, made of brass, stainless steel & enamel comes with more than 2 compartments. The picture shown above is an antique piece with 3 compartments. They keep food warm for long time, now they have been replaced by stainless steel / silver tiffin carriers, Tupperware or plastic tiffin boxes.
Chombu / Sombu Kalasa, pot like utensil used to drink water. Made of stainless steel, copper and brass, comes in different shapes and sizes. They looks similar to pot with curved neck. The second picture is of antique water storing vessel. Brass Andaa or Kudam was used to store water & still used by some.
1. Brass, Bronze, Stainless Steel & Copper bottomed Serving Bowls, used to serve veg and non veg curries
2. Casserole, to keep food warm. The outer coating is plastic and sometimes stainless steel.