A while ago, I shared the first part of my ultimate list of The ultimate list of kitchen essentials: Part 2 (cookware) your kitchen and keep it running smoothly.
But then you also
need tools to turn those ingredients into edible, delicious, satisfying food.
So, what do you
need for your kitchen to cook?
With just a few
cookware pieces, you can cook a whole variety of foods and dishes. Most of the
utensils are versatile and multi-purpose, ideal for small kitchens and compact
utensils are available in a variety of sizes, so if you’re cooking for just one
or two people, you can go for the smallest sizes or just a size above the
smallest. It’s always good to have a larger cooking utensil or two for when you
want to cook in bulk for the next few days or next couple of meals, or have
guests coming over.
to go for the smallest utensil size when you’re cooking for just one, but if
you plan to cook for at least a couple of meals together, you will need a
kitchen needs at least one pressure cooker. Why? Because a pressure
cooker can be used for many, many things. Need to boil potatoes in a jiffy?
Pressure cooker. Want to cook brown rice quickly? Pressure cooker. Prepare dal?
The pressure cooker, of course.
Of course, you
need a bit of umm… “special skills” to use a pressure cooker, because they need
to be opened and closed in a very specific way. But once you get the hang of
it, it will be super easy. (The first time I used a big pressure cooker, I had
to Google “how to open pressure cooker from X brand” and I was lucky enough
that they had posted a YouTube video demonstrating this).
most popular brands in India for pressure cookers are Vinod Steel, Prestige and
Hawkins, though there are many more that are also very good.
pan or skillet
versatile piece of cookware for the Indian kitchen.
frying pan is useful for cooking for eggs and omelettes, making a quick tadka
(tempering) for your dal, pan-frying something, and even making pancakes and
small uttapams. Another great use- spread some butter, use it to toast your
favourite grilled cheese sandwich on medium flame to get the right bit of
melted cheese. Yum!!!
I use the skillet
to sauté something quickly (in very small amounts) , for roasting makhana (fox
nuts) and whole spices, and for cooking something lightly like pieces of paneer.
You need at
least two kadhais or woks in your kitchen, even if you’re a small household.
After all, Indian subzis are best made in kadhais.
You will need
the humble pateela every morning to make chai. These are available with a
single long handle or with two or none, and both serve your purpose. I also use
a medium-sized saucepan to make instant noodles, to boil some sprouts or small
quantities of pasta, and even to toss up a salad (off the flame).
for dals and curries aka tope
kitchens have large steel pots they use for a variety of reasons, for cooking
rice or curries. You can invest in one such pot if you are going to cook in
larger quantities. It is most helpful to have such pots with handles so they
are easier to move about. But many of the larger steel pots come without handles.
cookware (optional, but useful):
“lines”: This is like a stove-top grill on which you can toast your sandwiches,
grill chicken, fish or even veggies and paneer.
Flat tawa with
handle for dosa: This can be a non-stick tawa, because they’re generally easier
chapatis and parathas
most useful things are overlooked, because they are small, and you realise how
important they are only when they are missing, like a button on your shirt.
tools are as useful as the pots and pans and griddles, and you definitely need
to budget for them when you go shopping.
and spatulas: For cooking, stirring, stir-frying
karchhis: For cooking, stirring, serving dals and curries
frying (this is the one with holes): They are also called skimmers, but not
many people use that word!
spatula for eggs, pancakes and dosas
is a large steel strainer with a mesh for washing vegetables and draining
chimta: For chapattis and parathas
aka pakkad: For lifting pots and pans that don’t have handles
and rolling pin aka chakla and belan: For chapattis and parathas
plate aka paraat: For making dough for chapattis and parathas
For tea and milk
If you cook meat, best to have a separate board to use only for meat.
are of different shapes and sizes, and each knife serves a different purpose.
The small ones are inexpensive and easy to manage. The fancier ones that are
similar to chef’s knives may need regular sharpening.
potatoes, carrots and other vegetables
A word on
If you love
cooking, especially different cuisines, you will have a gazillion ingredients
and you will need containers for them all. Your counter will fill up and your
kitchen cabinets will be overflowing. Even your fridge will always be full.
Yet, we all
need to make the best of what we have. Look for ways to optimize your storage
space, and don’t go all crazy buying too many ingredients. You will also need
to be very organized and keep everything back in its place, if you don’t want
things to get lost!
containers for storage: Keep several containers in several sizes, to store
everything from atta to biscuits.
glass containers for storage: If you are saying NO to plastic (good thing!),
opt for neat-looking glass containers with airlocked lids. This ensures your
snacks stays fresh.
Oil pot: These
are usually of steel, and make it easy to pour oil when you cooking.
Again, made of steel and they have an easy open lid to get out the ghee quickly.
box: The focal point of an Indian
kitchen, my steel masala box has travelled with me from India to Myanmar and
back. Six years plus, and still going strong. With the right quality steel, you
will quickly get attached to your spice box.
on buying cookware
Sizes: If you
are a small household, then buy the smallest or the medium sized utensil. You
don’t need big ones, unless you are cooking for a larger family.
the retailer about the correct way to wash and use the utensils. This is
especially true for pressure cookers. Each brand has its own special technique,
so if you’re not used to it, you could be struggling for hours!
Comfort: Try to
buy kadhais and other cooking utensils with heat-resistant lids and handles.
not: There is a general belief that non-stick cookware is harmful and can make
your food toxic. But they are easy to wash and you can cook with less oil or
butter. So should you use them or not? While most experts say non-stick is safe
as long as you don’t cook it in very high temperatures, choosing to use
non-stick (or not) is a very personal choice. Read this article by Nutrition Diva and another one by Good Housekeeping to get a better understanding on the