Must-Have Utensils for Indian Cooking

Indian food is reputed to be elaborate and difficult to prepare. Indeed, when you look at prepared Indian cuisines, the first thing you’ll notice is the color. Most Indian dishes are so colorful, probably because of the spice, herbs, and vegetables used to make them. What’s more, behind many Indian cuisines are religious and cultural traditions that shape the way these dishes are prepared.

Because of the fanciness of Indian food, many people think that Indians use special equipment when cooking. Actually, they use the same things you probably use at home, with the exception of a few items.

So if you want to try cooking some Indian dishes, you better remember the list that follows. Of course, if you encounter something that’s unfamiliar to you, you can always buy it from specialty stores.

1. Hamam-dasta or mortar and pestle – This pair is used for pulverizing fresh herbs and/or whole spices into seasoning pastes and spice mixtures. Traditional ones are made of wood and granite. Indians love to use this as it allows the aroma and flavor of the herbs and spices to blend beautifully.
2. Handi – This is usually made of brass with the cooking surface coated with tin. It has a neck that is narrower than its base. Most cooking is done at the bottom of the pan, with the lid used to retain the food’s aroma.
3. Belan or rolling pin – This is used to roll different kinds of Indian flatbreads and pastries like chapattis and parathas. Indians prefer a wooden belan for best results.
4. Chimta or tongs – This is commonly used for pan/shallow frying foods. Indians also use this for roasting rotis and papads on an open flame and for turning breads while roasting.
5. Pauni or slotted spoon – The pauni is typically used for frying. The slots between the rows of the spoon are used to drain oil.
6. Katori – This is a small metal bowl used to serve dals and gravies.
7. Degchi – This round metal pot comes with a lid and is slightly shallow. This is normally made of brass or copper, although there are non-stick varieties now, and is the most common pot used in Indian cooking. Dishes like biryanis are usually prepared in degchis.
8. Kadai or large wok – This is a frying pan that is neither too shallow nor too deep and is usually made of iron, stainless steel, aluminum, and brass. Indians often use this to serve food on the table, adding an authentic Indian look and feel to the food.
9. Masala dani (Masala dabba) – Simply put, this is a spice box where Indians store dry spices. Usually, it has seven round compartments, is made of stainless steel, and comes with a small measuring teaspoon that fits inside the box.
10. Paarat – This is the usual partner of the belan, as this is generally used to knead dough. It looks like a big round plate with high side rims.
11. Tandoor – This is the Indian counterpart of the American grill. It’s a cylindrical clay oven in which food is cooked over wood or charcoal.
12. Tandoor sariyas – These are the Indian counterpart of skewers and go hand in hand with the tandoor. These are long iron rods that pierce through food items that are cooked on the tandoor.
13. Tawas – This is a slightly concave cooking appliance usually made of aluminum or thick iron. Chapattis, parathas, and dosas are cooked using the tawas.
14. Thali – This is the modern equivalent of banana leaf, which Indians of old used to serve food. A thali is a serving plate with straight rims and is usually made of brass, steel, or aluminum.

Now you have a full list of cooking utensils you’ll need when you try your hand at cooking Indian food.