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Interesting facts about Traditional Indian Kitchen:Tools,Techniques and Ingredients!

Updated on August 17, 2017
ChitrangadaSharan profile image

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

The Tandoor or the clay oven
The Tandoor or the clay oven | Source
Stone mortar pestle set
Stone mortar pestle set | Source

A Brief Introduction To The Indian Kitchen

© Chitrangada Sharan Dec. 2014

All Rights Reserved.

  • Once I was in conversation with a friend from a western country, who asked me 'What is unique about Indian cooking and its kitchen?'
  • When I started narrating to him, to my surprise, I went on and on. Perhaps I had not thought about this topic at such length and depth earlier.
  • There was so much to tell.
  • When you say, Indian food, most would think, 'Hot, spices, curries, chapatis, sweets etc.'
  • Right?
  • Yes, its all that but much more beyond that.
  • To understand this, lets have a look into a standard 'Indian Kitchen.'
  • Most Indian kitchens are already equipped with every ingredient and kitchen tools to create 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 chapatis, parathas 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 grinder for preparing curries or masala or silbatta
Stone grinder for preparing curries or masala or silbatta | Source
Cast iron kadhai
Cast iron kadhai | Source
Rolling pin or chakla-belan
Rolling pin or chakla-belan | Source

Must Have Tools Of The Indian Kitchen:

  1. Most 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 favor cast iron or earthenware cooking pans. However saucepans or frying pans of any materials are being used these days.
  3. A round bottomed cast iron pan, called kadhai is most commonly used in India.
  4. A cast iron griddle called a tava, is used for cooking 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 a clay receptacle, with rounded sides, standing about 1.5 meters high and there is burning charcoal at the bottom as the heat source.
  9. Tandoor ovens are generally not found in 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. Its not possible to mention all kinds of Indian cooking techniques and the tools in one single hub. 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 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 | Source
Serving Green Chili-the Indian way!
Serving Green Chili-the Indian way! | Source
Lentils and curry leaves are a part of everyday meal
Lentils and curry leaves are a part of everyday meal | Source

Indian Kitchen: Something About Techniques And Ingredients:

  • Some of the recipes need lot of prior preparation. For example dosa, idli, dahi wada etc.
  • Indian cuisine involves soaking, grinding and slow cooking.
  • The Indian cuisine comprises of variety of spices, not only for the flavor, taste or aroma but for its numerous health benefits.
  • A special cooking technique is tempering or (tadka/ chownk/ baghar). Wherein whole spices are put in hot oil or pure ghee in lentils or vegetables.
  • 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.
  • Whole spices are used for tempering and ground to prepare curry paste.
  • Pure ghee is another important ingredient for spreading on chapatis, parathas or for lentils etc. It is a must for preparing sweets such as laddoos.
  • Jaggery, curd or yogurt, coconut milk and paste, ginger, garlic, onion are included in the recipes almost invariably.
  • Another must have is green coriander leaves, curry leaves, mint leaves etc.
  • Besides vegetable oil such as Sunflower, mustard oil is also a favorite among North Indians.
  • 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 last.
  • Sweets are an important part of Indian cuisine. And there is an endless variety of them, differing from region to region, state to state.
  • 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.

Are you familiar with the Indian cooking tools?

See results

To Conclude:

  • The Indian cooking and kitchen has evolved and come a long way. Although on special occasions, weddings, festivals you would still see only traditional food prepared in an authentic way.
  • Nowadays you can find fusion foods. 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 others cooked with an Indian touch and they all taste so well.

© Chitrangada Sharan 12th Dec. 2014

All Rights Reserved.

Protected: Please do not copy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

© 2014 Chitrangada Sharan

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

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    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
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      Chitrangada Sharan 10 months ago from New Delhi, India

      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!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 10 months ago from New Delhi, India

      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!

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 10 months ago from Northern California, USA

      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.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 10 months ago from The Caribbean

      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.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 11 months ago from New Delhi, India

      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!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 11 months ago from New Delhi, India

      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!

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 11 months ago from Georgia

      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.

    • Patsybell profile image

      Patsy Bell Hobson 17 months ago from zone 6a, SEMO

      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.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      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!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

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

      Glad you liked it!

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 2 years ago from Dubai

      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.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 2 years ago from California

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

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      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!

    • Charito1962 profile image

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 2 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      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!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

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

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

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 2 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      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!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thank you sgborown, for your kind visit and appreciation!

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

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 2 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

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

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      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!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      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!

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

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

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      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 profile image

      lex123 2 years ago

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

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thanks peachpurple, for reading and commenting!

      Have a nice day!

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

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

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

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

      Glad you liked the information about Indian kitchen. Thanks!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

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

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thank you aviannovice, for your wonderful comments!

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

      Thanks!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      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!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      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!

    • Easy Exercise profile image

      Kelly A Burnett 2 years ago from United States

      Chitrangadasharan,

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

      Mustard oil - never heard of this!

      Follow me out on Twitter @KKlineBurnett or Pinterest

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      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!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 2 years ago

      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.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      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!

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 3 years ago from Peru, South America

      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!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      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!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thanks Devika, for your kind visit and support!

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

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      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.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

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

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      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!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      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!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      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!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      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!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
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      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      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!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
      Author

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      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 profile image

      Rota 3 years ago

      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 profile image

      Venkatachari M 3 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      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 profile image

      Kylyssa Shay 3 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      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 profile image

      manatita44 3 years ago from london

      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.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      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 profile image

      travmaj 3 years ago from australia

      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.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image
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      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thank you billybuc, for being the first to comment!

      Appreciate your stopping by and glad you liked it.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

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