Indian cooking at home - Essential equipment
You don’t need a lot of equipment for indian cookery, but here are our top cooking utensils that are essential for cooking Indian food at home.
A mincing plate – A mincing plate is a stainless steel plate that works like a grater, which allows ingredients to be completely minced down. A mincing plate that is made from stainless steel is best, because it is non-porous and so you will not get flavour contamination from one ingredient to the next. This is very important when cooking with strong flavours, to allow for the even distribution of the base ingredients. Therefore, the finer you can get them them, a more even distribution you will have, which means you will have a far superior overall flavour to your finished dish.
A tawa– a tawa is concave pan used for cooking Indian flatbreads. The quality of tawas can vary greatly so it is always best to use a recommended brand or one that has lots of reviews.
You can get two types of tawa: Metal or clay. Everybody in our family, as well as our friends, use metal tawas (us included). Clay tawas are the very original type of tawa that were used in village cookery (as clay was readily available), however due to the nature of clay when used for cooking, it can crack. Clay also changes the flavour of the food when you use it as the material in which to cook or serve food, so this is also a factor.
A rolling pin – Punjab is known as the breadbasket of India, and as such, flatbreads form an important part of our diet (roti is the daily bread). A good rolling pin is worth it’s weight in gold. We would always recommend using one with handles, as this encourages even rolling (i.e. Uniform thickness of your flatbread, which is important for even and correct cooking).
A karai – A karai is a pot used in cookery, that is a little wok-like in shape, in that it is quite deep. Karais are great for cooking meat dishes, as well as for deep fat frying (both due to the shape of them). You can get some really beautiful karais that have really ornate handles, equally you can get a basic one with no-frills that does a great job at doing the task in hand – cooking the food beautifully.
A chakla– a chakla is a round board used as the base on which to roll out flatbreads before cooking them. You can get wooden chaklas (which are most readily available and affordable) but be sure to get one that is varnished so that you don’t get wood splinters in your flat bread as you roll. You can get really special marble ones, however these are much more expensive. A marble chakla is something that would typically be passed down through the generations, from mother to daughter. Most people however tend to use a wooden chakla. The wooden ones also have little feet or legs on which they stand. This is because traditional cookery was normally done outside and so there were no set worktops or work tables on which to prepare food, so a chakla was the dedicated rolling area for flatbreads.