Every keen cook has an arsenal of kitchen tools that they rely upon to create their favourite dishes and experiment with new recipes. Whether it is a top quality food processor or a hardy range of pots and pans, there are certain items that a cook’s kitchen simply wouldn’t be complete without.
This rule isn’t just one for the UK, but extends to the Indian sub-continent on the other side of the world. Indian cuisine is a complex and popular culinary tradition that has won over legions of fans around the globe thanks to its distinctive flavours and wide variety of dishes on the menu. And to properly create the most popular dishes of India, there are a few specific tools that have become stalwarts of the Indian kitchen over the years…
Where better to start than with the karai, the Indian version of the Chinese wok. A good quality karai is an essential item for any Indian family kitchen and can be used for a range of tasks, from deep-frying the savoury snacks known as chaat to sautéing meat and vegetables.
2. Masala dabba
Colourful, aromatic spices are the defining feature of Indian cuisine, so it follows that some bright spark would design a spice box to store these ingredients safely. A traditional masala dabba is created from stainless steel and can store seven individual spices. Typical options to store in the little compartments include cumin, turmeric, coriander, cinnamon and cardamom.
A heavy pot that is suitable for boiling and simmering food is essential for those dishes that need time to release the full potential of their flavour. A solid base ensures that food will not burn when placed over a hot flame - particularly useful for more delicate recipes such as reducing the milk needed for the traditional rice pudding, kheer.
The tawa is a cast iron skillet that can either be designed curved or flat. It is excellent for preparing the wide variety of famous Indian flatbreads we all know and love - particularly chapattis, parathas and rotis. Additionally, tawas can be used to pop your spices, allowing the aroma and flavour to fully develop before adding them to your dish.
An Indian handi is a useful tool for the preparation of rice. Rice is one of the staple grains of India and is served with a number of curries, stews and soups. However, it can also make for a delicious meal in its own right. Biryanis and pulaos are prepared in a handi, the deep vessel is ideally suited for dishes that need gentle, slow-cooking. In particular, you will get the perfect dish with sous vide cooking.
Although the majority of the time these kitchen utensils might be hidden behind the scenes, a visit to Amaya, one of London’s best Indian fine dining restaurants, offers customers the chance to see some of these tools in action. An open kitchen showcases skilled chefs using equipment such as the sizzling tawa and famous Tandoor oven, allowing you to be entertained by the kitchen staff before you get to sample the fruits of their labour.