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Interesting Facts About The Traditional Indian Kitchen: Tools and Techniques

Chitrangada loves the richness of Indian art, culture and traditions. As a writer, she wants to spread information about Indian culture.

Traditional Indian Kitechen Utensils

Traditional Indian Kitechen Utensils

Traditional Clay Tandoor to Prepare Roti or the Indian Bread

Traditional Clay Tandoor to Prepare Roti or the Indian Bread

A Brief Introduction To The Traditional Indian Kitchen

Once, I was in conversation with a friend, from a western country. He asked me, ’What is so unique about the Indian cooking and it’s kitchen?'

To my surprise, when I started narrating to him, I went on and on. Perhaps, I had not thought about this topic earlier, at such length and depth.

There was so much to tell. When we refer to the Indian food, many would think, 'Hot, spices, curries, chapatis, sweets etc. 'Isn’t it?

Yes, it’s all that, but much more beyond that.

To understand this, let’s have a look into a standard 'Indian Kitchen.'

Most Indian kitchens are already equipped with a variety of ingredients, and kitchen tools, to create exotic and delicious Indian delicacies.

To set up an Indian Kitchen, is a lengthy job. Because, certain cooking tools are specific, without which it would be difficult, to prepare the staple food, such as the chapatis, parathas, dosa, idli, curry powder etc.

Similarly, certain herbs and spices, such as the turmeric, curry leaves, ginger-garlic paste, garam masala (whole and ground) etc. are a must.have in the kitchen cabinets.

Stone Mortar Pestle Set

Stone Mortar Pestle Set

Stone Grinder—Used for grinding Spices for masala or curries, commonly called Silbatta

Stone Grinder—Used for grinding Spices for masala or curries, commonly called Silbatta

Cast Iron deep pan or Kadhai

Cast Iron deep pan or Kadhai

Rolling pin or Chakla-Belan

Rolling pin or Chakla-Belan

The Idli maker-Idlis are cooked by steaming method

The Idli maker-Idlis are cooked by steaming method

The Must Have Tools of The Indian Kitchen

  1. Most of the Indian cooking is done, on top of the stove, or gas stove. Earlier, it was done over coal, or earthen stove, or wood coal.
  2. Indians prefer cast iron, or earthenware cooking pans. However, saucepans, or frying pans, of any other materials are also being used these days.
  3. A round bottomed cast iron pan, called kadhai, is the most commonly used kitchen tool in India.
  4. A cast iron griddle called The tava, is used for cooking the parathas, chapatis, rotis, dosas, pancakes (both sweet and salted) etc.
  5. Most of the curries, lentils, rice, fried or shallow fried recipes, are cooked in medium sized saucepan, with a lid cover.
  6. A wok is now popular for deep frying, and also for those recipes, which do not need cover, such as pakoras, upmas, samosas etc.
  7. For preparing curry spices, a mortar and pestle, was used traditionally, for this purpose. It provides a very fine aroma, but nowadays people prefer electric mixers, and grinders, or food processors.
  8. Tandoor oven, is India's unique cooking technique. A tandoor oven is made with fine clay, with rounded sides, standing about 1.5 meters high, and charcoal is ignited, at the bottom, as the heat source.
  9. Tandoor ovens are generally not found in the homes, but in restaurants, or dhabas (open cooking spaces).
  10. This particular mode of cooking, relies on the intense heat inside, created by hot coals. Thus, you can cook meat, seafood, chicken, naans, parathas etc.
  11. The food thus cooked, is crispy on the outside, but soft and juicy, on the inside.
  12. Long, metal skewers are used to place meat, kebabs etc. inside the tandoor to cook.
  13. These foods are already marinated, with special spices and yogurt etc.
  14. India is a country with diverse culture. As such, every state has a different cooking technique, and different cooking tools.
  15. For example, South Indian cooking requires Idli maker, and dosa tava. And the Gujaratis require special tools for making dhoklas, khakras etc.
  16. In South India, a special round mortar and pestle is used, for grinding lentils, rice etc.
  17. It‘s not possible to mention all kinds of Indian cooking techniques and the tools in one single article. But, by and large the above mentioned tools are the basic tools.
  18. You will definitely find a tava (cast iron flat pan), a kadhai (something like a Wok), chakla-belan (Indian style rolling pin), coconut grater, chimta (tongs), kalchi (spatula with or without holes), pressure cooker etc. in every Indian kitchen.
  19. For making sweets, for some special occasions, special tools are required.
  20. Even Indians in India may not be familiar with all the varieties of cooking tools, techniques, and cuisines used throughout the country, due to the variety and vast range of cooking styles.
The aromatic and nutritious Spices

The aromatic and nutritious Spices

Lentils and curry leaves are a part of everyday meal

Lentils and curry leaves are a part of everyday meal

The Indian Kitchen: Something About Techniques And Ingredients:

  1. Some of the recipes need lot of prior preparation. For example, dosa, idli, dahi wada etc. Such recipes involve soaking, grinding and slow cooking.
  2. The Indian cuisine comprises of variety of spices, not only for the flavour, taste, or aroma, but for its numerous health benefits.
  3. A special cooking technique is tempering or (tadka/ chownk/ baghar). Wherein, whole spices are put in hot oil, or pure ghee, to be added to the cooked lentils, or vegetables.
  4. The Whole, or ground Coriander seeds, Cardamoms, Cloves, Cinnamon sticks, Fenugreek seeds, Mustard seeds, Cumin seeds, Aniseeds, Asafoetida, Bay leaves, black pepper, Turmeric, Sesame seeds, Saffron etc. are almost regular ingredients in the Indian kitchen.
  5. Whole spices are used for tempering, and ground to prepare curry paste.
  6. Pure ghee is another important ingredient, for applying on the chapatis, parathas, or for lentils/ pulses etc. It is a must, for preparing sweets such as laddoos as well.
  7. Jaggery, curd or yogurt, coconut milk and it’s paste, ginger, garlic, onion are included in the recipes, almost invariably.
  8. Another must have, is green coriander leaves, curry leaves, mint leaves etc.
  9. Besides vegetable oil such as Sunflower, mustard oil is also a favourite among the North Indians.
  10. The Chutneys, pickles, papad (papadum), sweets, are a must in a regular meal. In some part of India, there is a practice to start the meal with sweets, while in other parts, sweets are served at the end of the meal.
  11. Sweets are an important part of the Indian cuisine. And, there is an endless variety of them, differing from region to region, state to state.
  12. On special occasions, there is a practice of serving Paan (Betel leaf), or Mukhwaas (mouth fresheners, comprising of sweet Aniseed/ Betel nut etc), after the meal is over.
An interesting way to serve green chillies

An interesting way to serve green chillies

Grilled Chicken, right out of the Tandoor

Grilled Chicken, right out of the Tandoor

To Conclude:

  • The Indian cooking and kitchen has evolved and come a long way. Although on special occasions, the weddings, or the festivals, you would still see only traditional food, prepared in an authentic way.
  • Nowadays, fusion foods is quite popular. North Indians prepare South Indian food, with their own special touch, and the same with South, East, or West Indian cooking.
  • Not only that, Indians have adopted cuisines, from different parts of the World, and added their own touch to create delicious food.
  • So there is the Italian pizza, or the Chinese food, or the Thai food, and many others, cooked with an Indian touch, and they all taste so delicious.

Chitrangada Sharan

Glimpses of Traditional Indian Cooking, Source: YouTube

Tandoori Roti, Source: YouTube

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Chitrangada Sharan

How many traditional tools do you use in your kitchen? Please share your views in the Comments section.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on September 18, 2020:

Thank you Peggy, for reading and commenting on the article. Much appreciated.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 17, 2020:

Thanks for showcasing many of the cooking utensils and spices, etc. that make Indian food unique.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on March 05, 2019:

Thank You Nithya for coming back to this article. Much appreciated!

I am glad you liked it. It’s not possible to include the versatility of the Indian kitchen and cooking in one article. It makes me wonder about the uniqueness and diversity of different regions of India, when it comes to food and the cooking styles.

Paneer, cheese pizza is a wonderful fusion recipe.

Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on March 02, 2019:

Came back to read, the traditional Indian kitchen cooking utensils are unique, the photos and your article showcase them so well, The Indian cuisine has evolved and fusion food has become popular. I love the paneer cheese pizza the Indian style!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on March 02, 2019:

Thank You Rajan Ji, for reading and appreciating the article!

I am glad you found it useful. Thanks!

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on February 26, 2019:

A very comprehensive and informative article on the Indian kitchen which will make for easier understanding of the Indian utensils, food making process and more, for readers from the West.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on January 26, 2017:

Thanks MarleneB for your kind visit and comments!

Glad to read your appreciation about the Indian way of cooking.

I have a stone mortar and pestle set at home. No doubt the spices ground on this have a distinctive aroma. Though I do use my electric mixer -grinder as well.

I prepare my own combination of spices. That way I am able to always use the fresh spices that definitely taste better than the ones available at the supermarkets in packets.

Thank you so much for stopping by and your wonderful comments!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on January 26, 2017:

Thanks MsDora for your kind words of appreciation!

I am glad you liked this article. You are right --Cooking meat in cast iron pan on low flame gives best results. It will be even better if the cooking is done in the old fashioned way of coal or wood fire cooking.

Many thanks for your positive feedback!

Marlene Bertrand from USA on January 26, 2017:

Wow! There are a lot of unique tools in the Indian kitchen. Interestingly, I just ordered a stone mortar and pestle set yesterday. It should arrive at my house by the first of next month. I like the idea of growing, drying, and grinding my own herbs.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on January 26, 2017:

I like Indian food and I like this article. Thanks for taking us through the Indian kitchen. What I would like most is a cast iron pan like the one in the picture. Meat cooked in that pan cannot be cooked as good anywhere else.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on January 13, 2017:

Thank you Cyndi10 for your kind visit and valuable comments!

Glad you liked the information about Indian cooking techniques and other related information.

I hope you enjoy the food when you visit the Indian restaurant next time.

Thanks and have a good day!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on January 13, 2017:

Thank Patsybell, for your kind comments! I am sorry I missed your comment written long back and thus responding now. Somehow it had gone into the spam section.

I am glad that you liked the information about Indian cooking and I hope you would try it sometime.

Appreciate your positive feedback! Have a great day!

Cynthia B Turner from Georgia on January 13, 2017:

In Atlanta we have so many different cultures and as a result to many wonderful restaurants and food choices. It's so nice to have some of the cooking techniques explained. I'm a lot more educated on what I am eating now when I decide to visit an authentic Indian restaurant. Thank you for sharing the information.

Patsy Bell Hobson from zone 6a, SEMO on July 04, 2016:

This is a good introduction for me. We have an Indian restaurant in our small town and I love all the vegetable dishes. But I have not had the courage to try cooking Indian food at home. I have most of the spices. I hope to use some of the vegetables from my garden in Indian cooking. Thank you for the inspiration.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on September 16, 2015:

Thank you Nithya!

And you are absolutely right--Our mothers and grand mothers were so skilled and performed the toughest kitchen jobs with ease and pleasure. We have so much convenience these days and still we complain that we are busy.

Thank you for your lovely comment and appreciation!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on September 16, 2015:

Thank you Audrey Howitt, for reading and appreciating this hub!

Glad you liked it!

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on September 15, 2015:

I still remember the huge motar and pestle that my mother used to grind batter for idlis and dosas, it was real tough but my mother used to grind away. I do not know how she did it. We have grinders and mixers that are so easy to use nowadays. Enjoyed reading your hub.

Audrey Howitt from California on September 15, 2015:

This was wonderful! I love the mortar and pestle--I love the pungency of these spices!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on August 03, 2015:

Hi Ms. Charito!

Thank you for your kind visit and positive comments.

I am indeed glad to meet you and happy to learn that you admire the Indian culture. I have some idea of the Philippines rich culture also, since I had friends in my college days, from your country.

Thanks for all the kind words of appreciation!

Charito Maranan-Montecillo from Manila, Philippines on August 01, 2015:

Hi, Ms. Chitrangada! I'm Ms. Charito. This is such an interesting piece about your traditional kitchen tools. The Palak-Paneer would do me good since I have to reduce my cholesterol level.

I do admire your rich Indian culture.

Thanks for sharing!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on June 03, 2015:

Thank you rebeccamealey, for your kind visit and positive comments!

Glad you liked this hub. Hope you get to enjoy some more Indian cuisine.

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on June 03, 2015:

Very enlightening! It is so interesting to learn about how a different culture cooks. I might add that I love Indian food, and don't get it enough!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on February 24, 2015:

Thank you sgborown, for your kind visit and appreciation!

Glad you liked this hub. Thanks for your lovely comments!

Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on February 20, 2015:

I have enjoyed learning about the authentic Indian kitchen, some of the tools and spices. I really enjoy learning about different cultures. Great hub!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on February 12, 2015:

Thanks peachpurple, for reading and commenting!

No, I don't use mortar-pestle, but it is there in my kitchen. It is a tradition and customary to use it during weddings and festivals. I am using food processor for all these tough kitchen works such as grinding.

Thanks and have a good day!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on February 12, 2015:

Thanks peachpurple, for reading and commenting!

No, I don't use mortar, but it is there in my kitchen. It is a tradition and customary to use it during weddings and festivals. I am using food processor for all these tough kitchen works such as grinding.

Thanks and have a good day!

peachy from Home Sweet Home on February 11, 2015:

do you still use the mortar? I am still using it for my sambal

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on January 22, 2015:

Thank you lex123, for your kind visit and comments!

Glad you liked this hub. Yes these stone tools are rarely used but makes one feel nostalgic.

Thanks for voting up!

lex123 on January 21, 2015:

A beautifully presented hub about authentic Indian kitchen. Those stone tools remind me of my younger days. Voted up!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on January 11, 2015:

Thanks peachpurple, for reading and commenting!

Have a nice day!

peachy from Home Sweet Home on January 09, 2015:

i have seen tandoor stove in roti prata shops, they put the capati inside to cook

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on January 09, 2015:

Thank you RTalloni, for your kind visit and positive comments!

Glad you liked the information about Indian kitchen. Thanks!

RTalloni on January 09, 2015:

Interesting look at many of the authentic Indian tools and techniques for cooking. I enjoyed learning more about these details!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on January 06, 2015:

Thank you aviannovice, for your wonderful comments!

So pleased to learn that you love cooking and this hub was interesting for you.

Thanks!

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on January 05, 2015:

This really hit on a creative nerve of mine, as I love cooking so much. This really clarifies a LOT of things for me. No chef's arsenal is ever complete without a mortar and pestle, though!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on January 05, 2015:

Thank you Easy Exercise, for your kind visit and comments!

I am glad you liked the hub. Mustard oil is extracted from Mustard seeds and has a pungent flavor.

Thanks again!

Kelly A Burnett from United States on January 04, 2015:

Chitrangadasharan,

Fascinating - I learned allot. Great descriptions and fantastic photos!

Mustard oil - never heard of this!

Follow me out on Twitter @KKlineBurnett or Pinterest

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on December 22, 2014:

Thanks Dianna, for stopping by!

I am glad you liked the hub and I agree many tools used in our kitchens are similar.

These days even in India, many are using electrical and electronic devices in their kitchen instead of the traditional tools.

Appreciate your kind comments and continued support!

Dianna Mendez on December 21, 2014:

Some of the Indian tools are simliar to the Spanish culture. I remember my mother grinding herbs and spices with a mortar and pestle. We use a cast iron pan for many of our meals today and the rolling pin is a regular kitchen tool in baking. Great article and so interesting.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on December 16, 2014:

Thank you vespawoolf, for enlightening me with your comment.

Glad you liked the hub and appreciate your words about Indian cooking.

Thanks and have a good day!

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on December 15, 2014:

This is interesting and informative. Peruvians also use different tools in the kitchen. They usually use the stove top, much more so than the oven. They don´t have tandoori ovens, but use earthenware pots and mortar and pestle for grinding garlic, etc. Thank you for sharing. I love Indian cooking!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on December 13, 2014:

Thank you Rajanji, for your encouraging words and I am glad you liked this hub! It means a lot.

The sight of these pictures truly makes one nostalgic. Even I was reminded of the old times while writing this hub. I do have silbatta but still use the food processor.

Many thanks for your valuable comments!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on December 13, 2014:

Thanks Devika, for your kind visit and support!

Appreciate your stopping by and your comments are always a pleasure.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on December 13, 2014:

This is indeed a very useful hub for those who wish to have an idea what Indian cooking comprises and the various Indian utensils and tools that are commonly used.

It is a very detailed hub and written with finesse. Bravo.

I love the pictures of the silbatta, the clay tandoor, the stone mortar pestle set that is hardly seen today. Reminds me of times gone by and forever.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on December 13, 2014:

Interesting indeed. I miss these tools. A useful and informative on a special culture.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on December 13, 2014:

Thank you Rota, for your kind visit and comments!

I am pleased to see your interest in Indian cooking. Spices are an integrat part of Indian cooking not only for the aroma but for the health benefits as well.

Thanks!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on December 13, 2014:

Thank you Venkatachariji, for your kind visit and appreciation!

I am satisfied that you liked this little effort of mine to provide a brief description of the authentic Indian kitchen.

Thanks for voting up!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on December 13, 2014:

Thank you Kylyssa, for your visit wonderful comment!

You described it so beautifully. I am pleased to see your interest in Indian food.

Thank you so much and have a good day!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on December 13, 2014:

Thank you manatita44, for your visit and kind comments!

Glad to know you liked the information about the authentic Indian kitchen.

I also love vegetarian cooking and I believe there is much more variety in it. I enjoy cooking for my family and friends and I find it very rejuvenating. You mentioned Gurudwara--- an amazing place where all people belonging to different faiths sit together to share a common meal, an opportunity to serve people from all walks of life and to help banish all distinctions between high/ low/ rich/poor.

Thanks for your suport!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on December 13, 2014:

Thank you BlossomSB, for your kind visit and appreciation!

Glad you liked this brief information about Indian cooking and kitchen. I am pleased to learn about your interest in Indian food.

Many thanks and have a good day!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on December 13, 2014:

Thank you travmaj, for your kind visit and positive feedback!

I am pleased to know your interest in authentic Indian food and that there are many Indian restaurants at your place.

The spices are an integral part pf Indian cooking not only for the aroma but also for its health benefits. Truly it is a work of art and requires precision.

Many thanks for your support!

Rota on December 12, 2014:

i adore indian cooking and cook a lot of Fiji Indian dishes that are somewhat different from regular indian foods. However, i still use a lot of the spices and curry leaves and have made my own masala in the past as well. Love your photos.

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on December 12, 2014:

Very interesting hub. You have narrated the typical Indian Kitchen so beautifully with images of all the tools and ingredients that are necessarily a part of our kitchen.

Voted up and interesting.

Kylyssa Shay from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on December 12, 2014:

Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I love Indian cooking because it uses herbs, spices, and sauces fearlessly and in so many wonderful combinations yet respects simplicity in many things at the same time.

manatita44 from london on December 12, 2014:

Some decent knowledge here Chitrangada, as well as an array of cooking utilities. I seem to have an aversion to cooking lately, and eat out a lot. I'm a bad boy. Still, I have been a vegetarian for 32 years and I know much of your mentioned foods. I lived in Southall for 8 years, dined in Alperton, and I'm a fairly regular visitor to the Sikh Gurdwara. Keep up this great work. In Love and light.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan from Victoria, Australia on December 12, 2014:

Thank you for this hub. I knew some of it as we have Indian friends and try to make some of the dishes they have shown us, but it was so good to get an over-all view.

travmaj from australia on December 12, 2014:

I found this fascinating and so authentic. We are lucky to have several Indian restaurants here and a wonderful shop full of spices and food. I love to buy food here as my attempts at cooking Indian food are basic. It really is an art and thank you for this.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on December 12, 2014:

Thank you billybuc, for being the first to comment!

Appreciate your stopping by and glad you liked it.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on December 12, 2014:

I love any article that teaches me about other cultures. Thank you for this.