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Iron and Cast Iron Cookware – From the Ancient City of India

by Jayashri
Cast Iron Cookware Cover

If you are someone who is considering Iron and Cast Iron Cookware for day to day cooking, you are in the right place!

Today I will show you the different types of iron cookwares & cast iron cookware, like:

Recently, we had been to Madurai (India), where there were many options of iron vessels for day to day cooking.

Let’s dive right in.



Iron utensils


Journey into the Ancient Indian City – Iron/Cast Iron Cookware Shops

Instead of buying organic cookwares from online, we decided to visit one of the oldest and best in the business iron vessels shop in Madurai.

This shop is in PudhuMandapam – near Madurai Meenakshiamman Temple (an Ancient Historic Temple known for its architecture and 1000 pillars).

Madurai Meenakshiamman Temple


Actually, there are many little shops stacked together, which are famous for selling:

  • Books,
  • Pooja items (for worshipping), and
  • “Irumbu Pathirangal” (Iron Vessels) – Iron and Cast Iron Cookwares
pudhu mandapam shops
pudhu mandapam shops
Madurai Cast Iron Cookware Shops


It was a great experience to shop inside that little place stacked with authentic and traditional Indian shops.

Here is the video with English Subtitles:


Part 1



Part 2


We went into one of the many iron cookware shops – Sikkandar Stores. Below is the list of cookwares we explored.


Types of Iron Vessels and Cast Iron Cookwares

Grill Plate ( Pre-Seasoned )

Iron Cookware Grill Plate

Grill plate is used for:

  • Grilling Chicken
  • Fish Fry
  • Mushroom
  • Paneer, etc


Difference between Cooking in Grill Plate and Normal Utensils is the absorption of masala by the food.

In normal utensils, the masala sticks only to the skin of food (like chicken or mushroom), whereas in the grill plate, the masala is well absorbed, thereby enhancing the taste.



New to Indian Cooking?

If you are a beginner or someone who is not sure on how to get started in Indian Cooking, please click on the below links for STEP By STEP GUIDE.

1. Essential Indian Cooking Tools – A Complete Guide for setting up basic Indian Equipment for cooking.
2. Essential Indian Spices – A Comprehensive Guide explaining the basics of Indian Spices which are Important for cooking Indian Foods.
3. How to Cook Rice Perfectly – Learn to Cook Indian Rice using 2 methods – Pot and Pressure Cooker



Grill Pan ( Pre-Seasoned )

Grill Pan

Grill Pan is also used for grilling chicken, fish, mushroom, paneer and other food varieties.

This Grill Pan is preferred over the Grill Plate (as seen above) because of it’s smaller size.

It has a flat surface. It is both Oven and Induction compatible.



Dutch Oven Casserole ( Pre-Seasoned )

Indian Dutch Oven Casserole

Dutch Oven is a multi-purpose utensil which is used for:

This Dutch Oven weighs 5kg.



Cast Iron Dosa Tawa (Pre-Seasoned)

Cast Iron Dosa Tawa

As the name suggests, dosa tawa is used for making Dosa.

This is Machine-Made dosa tawa (we will also see hand-made dosa tawa below)

With this Cast Iron dosa tawa, you can get CRISPIER roasted dosa which generally can be achieved only in Iron Dosa Tawa.

This is Induction compatible. This product is exclusively manufactured for Induction purpose.

It weighs around 2.25 Kgs and is 10.5 inches in diameter.



Pre-Seasoned Hand-Made Dosa Tawa

handmade cast iron dosa tawa

This hand-made tawa is almost the same as the machine-made except for some rough edges. The machine-made is super smooth and of much higher quality.

And the dosa comes out crispier in the machine-made dosa tawa. Hence it is preferred over hand-made dosa tawa.



Tips for Pre-Seasoned Tawa

The Pre-Seasoned vessel comes already seasoned (generally by the manufacturers or the one who is selling).

So there is not much seasoning you have to do. You have to simply wash and then start cooking.

DON’T use Steel scrubbers for washing Pre-Seasoned vessels. Instead, you can use Sponge scrubber for washing.



Iron Skillet (UnSeasoned)

Iron Skillet Unseasoned

You can prepare any dish in this iron cookware. On top of that, this is also used as a serving plate.

It has a flat surface and is Induction Compatible.

You can also use Tamarind and Tomato in this iron skillet while cooking.

Iron skillet is around 10 inches diameter and 2 inches depth. Its Weight is 3 Kg.



How to Season a Cast Iron Cookware?

Step 1

You can start seasoning by using steel scrubber and dish-washing liquid (or soap) 4 to 5 times with water. Scrub well all over the vessel.

This removes the dirt completely.


Step 2

Next, SOAK the vessel in Porridge water or water of washed rice, for ONE DAY. After one day, wash with water. (If you don’t have rice water or porridge, go with Maida (All Purpose Flour) instead and follow the same procedure)


Step 3

Next, DEEP FRY with Chopped Onions in oil, until the onions turn dark brown to black colour. With this step, the seasoning process is complete.



Maintenance Tips for Cast Iron Cookware

When the cast iron vessel is not in use, please apply oil to prevent RUSTING.

If the iron vessel becomes rusted, then no need to worry. Just wash it with water and then scrub well using a steel scrubber and a little soap. Wash off with water and apply oil – the rust should be gone.



UnSeasoned Iron Skillet with Heat-Resistant Handle

unseasoned skillet with silicone handle


This skillet is smaller in size (9 inches diameter and 1.5 inches depth).

This unseasoned iron skillet has a SILICON GLOVE attached to its handle for heat resistance purpose.

It has a Flat Base. It is Induction and Oven compatible.



Mini Skillet

mini iron skillet

This Mini Iron Skillet is used for:

  • Tadka or Tempering
  • Seasoning of Curries
  • Preparing Omelette
  • Re-heating cooked food


This skillet is Induction and Gas Stove Compatible. It has a flat surface as well.



Cast Iron Omelette Pan

cast iron omelette pan

This Un-Seasoned Cast Iron Omelette Pan comes with Silicon glove for heat resistance.

It has 7.5 inches in diameter. Omelette Pan is Induction compatible.

This Omelette Pan can be used for:

  • Making Omelette
  • Preparing Chapathi
  • Frying Fish


Un-Seasoned Skillet without Handle (for Oven)

skillet without handle

This type of skillet (which doesn’t have a handle) is used for cooking purposes inside Oven.

Skillets usually come with a handle, which makes it difficult to cook inside “smaller sized” ovens. Because of this, the following question arises:

What is the use of Skillets without a handle?


Skillet-without-handle is Induction, Oven and Gas Stove compatible.


Cast Iron Appam Kadai (Un-Seasoned)

appam kadai pan

As the name suggests, Appam Kadai (Appam Pan) is used to prepare appam (a type of Indian pancake made of fermented rice batter).

This appam kadai is an unseasoned one. Follow the Seasoning tips given below so that it can be used for cooking.

It’s Diameter is 9 inches.



Cast Iron Paniyaram Pan/Appe Pan (Un-Seasoned)

Kuli Paniyaram Pan

This kuli paniyaram pan has 12 pits. There are also paniyaram pans with 7 and 9 pits.

These are meant for cooking:

  • Paniyaram
  • Masala Omelette
  • Aloo Bonda, etc

This Cast Iron Paniyaram Pan/Appe Pan has a flat base for easy balancing and cooking (since most of the paniyaram pans don’t have a flat base, thereby making them unbalanced while cooking).

Because of it’s flat base it is both Gas Stove and Induction compatible.



Why Should You buy Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Paniyaram Pan?

Un-seasoned paniyaram pan has a lot of hard dirt which makes it very difficult to remove at home. It takes a lot of effort and labour to make it dirt free.

Kuli paniyaram unseasoned
Un-Seasoned Cast Iron Paniyaram Pan

Hence, it’s advisable to buy Pre-Seasoned paniyaram pan which is cleaner and ready to be used.

Seasoned Paniyaram Kal
Seasoned Paniyaram Pan

The Pre-Seasoned paniyaram pan is only Rs 100 costlier than the un-seasoned one.

Kuli paniyaram kadai Seasoned and UnSeasoned

It is always a good practice to buy Paniyaram pan/appe pan with Seasoned one.



Cast Iron Single Pit Paniyaram Kadai/Appe Pan

Single Pit Paniyaram Kadai

These both are Single Pit Cast Iron Paniyaram Kadai, which are rare products. These are generally used for:

  • Karandi Omelette
  • Athirasam, etc


Miniature Kadai and Miniature Tawa

miniature kadai and tawa
Miniature Cookwares

Miniature Kadai and Tawa are mainly used for decoration and showcase purposes rather than used for cooking. Kids also love this type of miniature cookware.



Iron Square Tawa

square shaped dosa tawa

Iron Square shaped tawa can be used in Gas Stove, generally used for preparing Dosa.

Its Dimension is 12*12 inches. Weight – 3Kg



Seasoning Tips for Iron Tawas

Generally, when it comes to seasoning Iron vessels, they are not to be seasoned as aggressive as Cast Iron Seasoning.

Just Deep fry onions in oil for 2-3 times. That should be enough to make it useful for starting the cooking.



Soapstone Cookware (Kal Chatti)

soapstone kal chatti

Soapstone Cookware (Kal Chatti in Tamil) is mainly used to prepare curry/gravy (kulambu) like

It is Gas Stove compatible. Soapstone cookware takes a lot of time to get heated initially.

Low to Medium flame should be used for heating. High flame should not be used for heating a kal chatti.

Soapstone cookware retains heat for sometime after turning off the flame. Hence it’s a good practice to turn off the flame before 3 to 5 minutes at the end of cooking.



How to Season a Soapstone Cookware?

Seasoning a soapstone cookware (kal chatti) is a long process when compared to the seasoning of cast iron cookwares.

Step 1

Apply castor oil and turmeric powder on the inside and outside daily for 15 days. (In other words, Re-Apply castor oil and turmeric powder on top, each day for 15 days, without wiping them off)

Step 2

Wipe off with a cloth or tissue to remove all the dirt from the soapstone cookware, after the 15 days mark.

Step 3

Wash the cookware completely with boiling water.

Step 4

Soak the vessel in porridge water (kanji thanni or washed rice water)

Step 5

Before you start cooking, pour water and bring it to a boil in Low flame (Sim).

Then you can start normal cooking.



Different Types of Soapstone Cookware:

soapstone cookware different types


Soapstone Jar

soapstone jar curd pot

Soapstone Jar is used for Storing:

  • Salt
  • Pickles
  • Curd

When it comes to storing curd, the jar made with soapstone avoids the curd from turning sour.

This soapstone jar doesn’t require seasoning. A normal wash with the water is enough to start using it.



Miniature Soapstone Toys

soapstone toys

These are traditional Indian soapstone cookware toys for kids.

These are the miniature versions of the real organic cookwares used in Indian kitchen for many centuries. Now, of course, most of them are replaced by modern equipment.

The main purpose of selling these toys is to remember and appreciate the ancient Indian cookwares.

soapstone miniature toys

Seasoning – just wash it with water and wipe it off. After that, apply oil and then kids can start playing with it.



If you are interested in other Madurai (Ancient Indian city) specialties, check out the below:

The Madurai “Famous Jigarthanda” – An Original Delicious Dessert based Yummy drink:

Madurai Famous Jigarthanda

(Famous Jigarthanda and Murugan Idli Kadai Jigarthanda!)


If you like our experience of visiting restaurants and their beautiful PHOTOS, then you might also like the below:

Bangalore Donne Mutton Biryani

(Click on the above to know about the BEST Biryani in Bangalore!)


Holige Mane – Boli/Obbattu Varieties

(Click on the above to know explore the different varieties of Obbattu in Bangalore!)


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3 comments

Saurin Purohit May 17, 2020 - 6:37 pm

can I have contact info to order stuff.

Thank you
17706862919

Reply
Jayashri
Jayashri May 18, 2020 - 7:38 pm

hello, Please check the link below (description box) to find the contact details of the shop to place your order.
https://youtu.be/Y9tcF3_bRYE
Hope this helps you.

Reply
Simran June 12, 2020 - 9:46 pm

Hey! I was thinking of buying from Sikander Stores through courier but I have also seen the online stores like Zishta, taking double the price for the cast iron cookware. On asking Zishta, they informed that mostly scrap iron is used to make cast iron in Madurai and that there were impurities when they tested the cookware there. What is your view on the same? do you think there is any difference in terms of quality in the two?

Reply

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