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Cookware for Indian Cuisine

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hi, I'm new to the forums, and have been reading and reading and reading. So much great info. I'm trying to start building a collection of pots and pans, and am a bit overwhelmed with the options. I thought that I would describe what I cook at home and ask for suggestions. At the moment, I have an Ikea set of pots and pan, a cast aluminum wok, and a glass casserole.

Most of the cooking I do is Indian cooking. I think that I need something that allows for long steady temp simmering but also can brown spices, onions, and garlic evenly. I would also need that pan/pot to be able to go in the oven (for biryani). I also cook various rice pilafs, lentil purees, and beans.

Suggestions? Cast Iron? Do i need a different pan/pot for the rice pilafs and purees? What about using a pressure cooker for the long cooking lentils and beans?

To make this a bit more complicated, it would be great to have pots and pans that my girlfriend can also use for her cooking (she's beginning to explore french cooking).

Budget... well I'm looking to get good quality products for the first time, things that will last a long time instead of cheap sets (see ikea).

I live in Europe, I don't know if that helps or limits my options to different brands or lines....

Thanks
post #2 of 11
Common western cookware will serve you just fine.

Madhur jaffrey uses a pressure cooker a lot for Indian cooking. They are useful there. But they're not going in the oven in most cases as they have too many plastic parts. They're useful for beans but I don't bother with the pressure cooker for lentils as they cook fairly quickly.

A standard stainless steel 12" skillet with a metal handle will do most of the cooking just fine. A saucepan for rice and similar dishes. These are the classic utensils for French cooking as well.

Cast iron is good at many things, but is not at its best at prolonged wet cooking. If you use the enameled cast iron, that would be fine as well.
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the input, I was wondering, though, about a Le Creuset braiser, won't that be exactly what I'm looking for? Or is it overkill, much more than is necessary for what i'm doing?
post #4 of 11
if you look around, you'll undoubtedly find non-brand name pots/pans with similar cooking qualities. Le Creuset stuff is good, but you are paying for "the name"

in principle, the "stuff that will last forever" is cast iron, copper, and non-laminated stainless steel. the fancy name stainless stuff with "cores" of aluminum - sometimes copper is cited - with time, do delaminate and peel apart. "cheap" one faster than "good" ones. un-pretty.

the standard thin single layer stainless pot is just fine for boiling/steaming vegetables, eggs, etc.

copper pots/pans - expensive but worth it in my opinion - typically stainless interior - they last for generations. copper is - except for pure silver - the best heat conductor - so in terms of even cooking, no hot spots, etc., it is the best. by default one must say one pays for "the brand name" because there's only a couple companies that make the stuff anymore - you'll find very few Chinese knock offs of 2.5 or 3 mm thick solid copper pans.

>>rice & purees
rice is a special case. I use a copper pot - rice+water+salt+butter, bring to simmer, put in oven 15 minutes, allow to stand 15 minutes. no stick, no burn, works every time, never fails. taste darn good, too.

I use the same pot for purees, so to the question : yes & no <g>
if you do rice frequently/daily, might want to consider a dedicated rice cooker/steamer.

when you start "doing the cooking" you'll very quickly pick up preference for which pan/pot/material/shape works best for the task and hand. shape is actually very important for some tasks - saute and "flipping" stuff around in a pan does not work well with vertical sides, for example.

the best advice I can offer is just don't go spend billions on some "full set" - which you may find later just does not suit your style or needs. try one of different styles before making any really big decisions.

non-stick: not mentioned, that's a whole other world.

also try plain ole' carbon steel pans - usually thicker than stainless, thinner than aluminum, takes a good seasoning and get to be "almost" non-stick - fast heat transfer, etc.
post #5 of 11
I grew up in India and I'm big on rice. I'd definitely recommend a rice cooker for plain rice or for rice with not much added to it. I wouldn't use one for rice dishes that are heavy on other ingredients (e.g. biryani). My rice cooker gets a lot of use.
post #6 of 11
I'd suggest a visit to your local Indian grocer who will usually have a cast iron flat Plate pan ( cant remember what its called) For chapatis and other flat breads ( very cheap and lasts for years)

All general use, good quality pans should be all you need. Especially a deep saute pan with a lid, that can go in the oven.


>I grew up in India and I'm big on rice. I'd definitely recommend a rice cooker for plain rice or for rice with not much added to it. I wouldn't use one for rice dishes that are heavy on other ingredients (e.g. biryani). My rice cooker gets a lot of use.<

Never would have thought to cook Basmati rice in a rice cooker. I'll give it a try
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post #7 of 11
Balti bowls won't go amiss, either.
post #8 of 11
Give it a try, at least! It takes less water than medium-grain rice does, so don't use the same proportions. I cook it 3 cups rinsed and drained rice, with 4 cups water (or halve it or whatever). It cooks perfectly.
post #9 of 11
Cheers Yeti,
Do you still soak the Basmati rice for an hour before you do it in the cooker?

I love Thai sticky rice, but never managed anything better than bit soggy n claggy Any tips using the cooker?

Just as a by-the-way, My friend Suman, North Indian was round today. She doesnt have much growing space in her garden, so i grow things for her, and she harvests it and cooks me up some scrummy vegetarian goodies as a kind of barter system that pleases us both.
Seeing as this thread is Indian orientated. (Truly sorry to digress from the pots and pans theme) I was wondering, I'm growing mustard for Suman and i cant understand her cooking methods. Seems she uses it like spinach in saag, or o add to Chapatis. Any ideas? I've tasted it from the plant, but cant imagine it as a dish.

BTW our Methi and coriander is doing fabulously. Happy days:)
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #10 of 11
When cooking either jasmine rice or basmati rice in a rice cooker, rinse and soak as you would normally do, measuring the water the traditional way rather than using the cooker's guidelines, which seem to be intended for medium grain rice. For long grain, I use 4 c. water to 3 c. rice. (For medium grain I use 3 c. water to 2 cups rice). I hope it turns out good for you.

I love mustard greens, but I've only cooked them in simple ways--steamed plain, or sometimes with some onion and fresh hot chiles.
post #11 of 11
I love mustard greens, but I've only cooked them in simple ways--steamed plain, or sometimes with some onion and fresh hot chiles.



I love them done that way too, but mine are quite spindly just now and i'm used to them being much more wholesome. Suman assures me they will bulk up as we keep harvesting them.

Cheers for the rice tips
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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