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What are traditional Indian kitchen utensils and accessories?

These include: Chhalni, Belan, Chakla, Chakku, Chhalni, Chimta, Gandasa, Kaddu kas, Kalchi, Phirni, Masala Daani, Palta, Paraat, Pakkad, and Pauni.
Bonti, Chakki, Hamam Dasta, Sil Batta, and Tarazoo are almost obsolete
Patra and Pirhi are the only pieces of furniture used in traditional kitchen

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Atta Chhalni (Flour Sifter)

Floor Sifter Conceptual ArtAtta (Flour) Chhalini (Sifter) is used to separate bran and even bugs from the flour. Sifter is also used to mix flour with salt and baking soda or powder to uniformly disperse the ingredients. It is approximately 8" in diameter, and 3" high.

Traditional Atta Chhalni has either Tin or wooden band with fine wire mesh. Nowadays, the band and the mesh are both made of stainless steel

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Belan (Rolling Pin)

Belan Conceptual artBelan and Chakla are used together to roll out dough to make Roti and other breads. Belan is a single piece rolling pin. The handles on the western pin are stationary, while the the center part moves as a drum to roll-out dough. In case of Belan, the entire pin is used to roll out dough. The total length of Belan is about 12" to 13" long. The middle (rolling area) is about 6", and 3" long handle on each side.
Belan may be made of: Solid Wood, Hollow Brass, Solid Marble, Solid Granite. Hard wood Belan remains most popular in Indian kitchen. In United States, stoneware rolling pins (Granite or Marble) may be cooled in the refrigerator before rolling out the pastry dough.
The conceptual art depicts traditional wooden Belan

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Bonti

Bonti Conceptual artBonti is the most popular general purpose knife. Bonti is a curved blade knife (similar to Hansiya) mounted vertically on a horizontal wooden platform. Operator must either squat on her haunches, or sit on the floor with one knee raised-up pressing wooden base with the foot to hold Bonti firmly in place on the floor. The operator would hold food with both hands and slide it against the stationary blade to peel, slice, or chop. Holding food with both hands gave a good control over the thickness of the slice or peel. One can really chop Mustard greens by slicing the bunch held in hand very thin. Use of Bonti does require practice.
There is no standard configuration of Bonti. The wooden base, the mounting mechanism, and the blade all vary.
The blade is made of thick high carbon iron stock (about eighth (1/8) inch). The concave side is ground to a sharp edge. The tip (pointed end) is used to slit foods (for example de-vein prawns)
The wooden base may a simple narrow long thin slat of wood 24" long x 6" wide x 1" thick, with the blade mounted on the narrow side. The line-art shows a two-piece wooden base to give a slight angle, the horizontal line on the bottom shows the floor level. The wooden base could be a low bench 8" to12" wide x 18" to 24" long x 4" to 6" high, with the blade mounted on the narrow-side of the bench. In case of the bench, women just sits on the bench and uses the blade.
For mounting, the blade could be just screwed fixed in place. The mounting bracket could allow to raise or lower the height of the blade.
Nowadays, floor level kitchens are disappearing.
Hansiya (Daranti) is handheld curved blade used to harvest crops. Hansiya in English is called as Sickle.

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Chakla (Rolling Board)

Chakla Conceptual designChakla is used in conjunction with Belan to roll out dough to form breads. The edge is beveled. The top work surface is raised by about quarter inch and polished smooth. Its about 8" to 9" in diameter and about 1" thick. It is a heavy stoneware. At the bottom there may be 3 or 4 four feet, each  quarter inch thick carved out.
Chakla may be made of: Granite, Marble, Hard wood. In India white marble Chakla is the most common. In United States hardwood rolling boards are commonly used
The conceptual art depicts traditional white marble chakla

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Chakki (Hand operated flour mill)

Chakki Conceptual ArtThe Chakki is primarily used to mill grains to make flour such as wheat, slightly roasted chickpeas, pulses. Chakki is made of two round Granite stones. The top of bottom stone slightly slopes up towards the center where a little wooden peg is inserted.  The bottom of the top stone is ground to match to snugly fit the slope on the bottom stone. In the center of the top stone has a hole that serves two purposes: 1) Chute to manually feed the grain to be milled. 2) A rectangular piece of wood with a hole in the center is lodged in. When the top stone is put on the bottom stone the wooden pin on the bottom stone mates with this hole. Of course there is wooden handle inserted in another hole on the top stone. Chakki is operated while squatting or sitting on the floor. Flours are readily available in the market place making this tool only a relic of the past

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Chakku (Paring knife)

Chakku Conceptual DesignChakku is a high carbon flat iron blade, of which one edge has been ground to be razor sharp. The handle is made by sandwiching the flat blade between two flat pieces of wood. The wood and the blade are tied together with a string. This is a general purpose paring knife to peel and cut vegetables.
Chakku is made of high carbon iron blade with wooden handle. The sharp edge is created by grinding against red-brick or granite. Western style knives are replacing the traditional knives.

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Chalini (Seive)

Handheld sieve to filter out solids in the liquids. Best example is to filter out tea leaves from the tea.
Traditional materials: Brass, perforated. Nowadays, stainless steel is used

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Chimta (Tongs), Chimti

Chimta Conceptual artChimta is used to hold Roti (flat bread) over open flame to let it fully cook and puff up. It may be used to hold Papad for roasting on open flame. Chimti is a smaller version of Chimta
Chimta may be made of: Brass, Steel, Aluminum. Modern Chimta is made of stainless steel with a possible wood or plastic sleeve to protect hand from heat.

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Gandasa (cleaver)

Gandasa Conceptual artGandasa is a heavy hand held long blade normally found in the non-vegetarian kitchens. It is used to hack as well as chop or mince meats.
The handle is made of wood. The long heavy blade is made of high carbon iron. The edge is ground against granite.

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Hamam Dasta (Mortar and Pestle)

Hamam Dasta Conceptual ArtHamam Dasta is same as Mortar (Hamam) and Pestle (Dasta). Pestle is also called 'Musli'. It is used to muddle herbs such as ginger, garlic, cilantro, and peppermint leaves. It is also used to crush or grind whole dried spices.

Hamam Dasta may made of: Cast iron, granite, wood. Nowadays, ceramics are used

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Kaddu Kas (Grater)

Kaddu means Pumpkin, Kas is 'to grate'. Pumpkin-grater is misleading. It is used to grate root vegetables, and gourds. Carrots are grated to make Gajar Halwa. Lotus-root or Ghiya are grated to make Kofta.
Traditional Kaddu Kas was made of steel sheet with grating surface. Nowadays, stainless steel is used

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Kalchi (Ladle)

It is a long handle spoon. The spoon is round similar to bullion-spoon. It is used to stir curries while cooking, and used as a ladle to serve curries or Dal.
Most of the cookware was made of copper alloys (Peetal Kansa) and lined with Tin (Kalai) to prevent reaction to acids in the foods. Wooden spoon was commonly used to prevent scratching of the Tin. Wooden spoon was also ideal to muddle greens while making Saag.
Nowadays Kalchhi is made of stainless steel.

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Makhan Phirni (Butter Churner), Ghotni

Makhan Phirnii Churner Conceptual ArtMost prominent wooden tool is a butter churner. Large butter churner is called Phirni. Phirni is used to churn yogurt to extract and skim off Makhan (Butter). A smaller version is used to make Lassi. Yet another smaller version is called called 'Ghotni'. Ghotni is used to muddle greens to make Saag, or muddle beans to thicken the Dal.

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Masala-Daani (Spice rack), Masala-Dabba

This is Indian version of spice rack. In the olden days Masala Daani was a rectangular shaped wooden box with six to eight compartments and a sliding wooden lid. Each compartment was used to store frequently used spice.
With the passage of time, it became a round metal container Known as Masala-Dabba. Masala-Dabba holds snugly fit seven to none small bowls. Common spices stored are: Turmeric, Cumin, Coriander, ground Ginger, Fenugreek, Ground hot red chilies, and Salt. The spices are covered with intermediate lid and than the final lid seals the spice box. Tiny spoons may be included.
Traditional Masala Dabba was made of: Brass, Copper, or Aluminum. Nowadays stainless steel is used.

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Palta (Turner)

This is a long handle turner. The shape of the turner may be triangular or rectangular. It is used to turn over foods being pan-fried. It is almost a must in making Halwa.
Normally Palta used to be made of brass. Nowadays stainless steel is used.

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Paraat (Shallow pan)

Paraat Conceptual ArtParaat is a shallow pan with sloping high rim. It is primarily used to make dough for making bread. The high rim helps to contain the dough within the pan while kneading. Typical diameter of a Paraat at the bottom is about 12", Diameter at the top is about 15", the vertical depth is about 2" to 3".
Paraat made with clay are are porous, and lose heat slowly. Clay Parat are used for incubation for fermentation, examples: incubate milk to make yogurt, incubate bean batters to make idli, dosa, badiyan.
Traditional Paraat may be made of: Brass, Clay, Kansa, Copper. Paraat is nowadays made of stainless steel. Terracotta pan is still preferred by many to make yogurt
The conceptual art depicts traditional Brass Paraat where interior is coated with Tin

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Patra

Patra Conceptual artPatra and Pirhi are the only pieces of furniture found in Indian kitchen. Woman rests her haunches on the backside of heels. As women grow older or put on weight, the pressure on the heels can become painful. Patra is made of wood, and used to rest haunches while squatting. The height of Patra is about 4" (from the floor to the top of the surface of Patra). The length is about 14" and depth is about 8". Patra is also used to bathe in the bathroom.

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Pakkad (Cookware grabber)

Pakkad Conceptual ArtPakkad is a tong with a scissor-like action to grab hold of hot cookware. Pakkad means 'grabber'. Most of the traditional cookware has no handle. Pakkad is used to grab hot cookware to stir food while cooking, or remove the hot cookware from stove.
Pakkad is usually made of: Brass, Steel, Aluminum. Modern design incorporates wood or plastic on the handle side to protect hand against heat. The utensil is made of stainless steel

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Pauni (Skimmer)

Pauni Conceptual ArtPauni is a skimmer. It has a long handle. The end is round about 3" diameter and slightly concave with perforation. It is used to move the foods being deep-fried in hot oil or Ghee. It is also used to remove the foods from the hot grease. The concave surface is useful to hold the food while hot oil is dripping down the perforation back in to hot oil reservoir. The examples are: Poori, Kachori, Pakora, and Samosa.
Pauni is usually made of steel, or brass. Modern design incorporates wood or plastic on the handle side to protect hand against heat. The better quality Pauni is made of stainless steel including hollow handle.

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Pirhi (Low Divan)

Pirhi Conceptual artPirhi and Patra are two pieces of furniture found in Indian kitchen. Woman rests her haunches on the backside of heels. As women grow older or put on weight, the pressure on the heels can become painful. Pirhi is made of 4 pieces of bamboo sticks, each about 16" long. These bamboo sticks are inserted into 4 pieces of wood that serve as legs. The open space between the bamboo sticks is filled by weaving jute string. Pirhi is used to rest haunches while squatting. The height of Pirhi is about 8" (from the floor to the top of the woven surface of Pirhi. The length is about 16" and depth is about 16".

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Sil Batta

Sil is a rectangular piece of granite. It is about 10" wide, 14" deep, and 2" thick. The top surface is roughed-up for grinding. Batta is a triangular (4" each side,  2" thick) piece of stone. The food to be ground is put on the Sil and the Batta is used as a handheld device to grind. Batta is also called Lorha. This is normally a wet grinding operation to make batters from soaked beans, make Chutney, or make beverages such as Thandai.
Sil Batta may be made of: Granite, Red Lime stone, White sand stone

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Tarazoo

Tarazoo Conceptual ArtA handheld balance-scale to weigh ingredients. It is not a daily-use item. It is used to measure spices for making pickles or preparing food for large parties
String is attached in a hole in the center of a wooden rod to act as pivot and handle. On each end, three strings support a shallow bowl. Ingredient to be weighed is put on one of the bowls, while the weights are put on the other bowl. The amount of ingredient or the weight is adjusted for a balance at the fulcrum.

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Miscellaneous Items

Aari: Saw
Chhaaj: Winnower to separate husk from grain
Chhuri: A dagger like knife, re-curved double-edge blade with sharp tip
Hathodi: A small iron hammer to crack items such as Hing (Asafetida)
Kataru: Goat skinner
Pharsa: Wide-blade meat axe to slaughter for Jhatka
Phookni: A long hollow iron pipe with inside diameter of about quarter to half inch for blowing air to help start fire
Saaffee: Kitchen towel

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Changing face of Indian kitchenware

Materials

- Just like Kansa had disappeared during 1950s; the brass, bronze, and copper have been replaced with stainless steel. This eliminated the need to coat the inside with tin. Copper is still used to to clad the exterior of stainless steel cookware for heat conduction as well as aesthetics. Stainless steel is not a good conductor of heat. Some of the cookware uses a sandwiched layer of aluminum at the bottom for uniform heating, such cookware is called to be 'heavy bottom'.
- Most of the earthenware has disappeared.
- Gold tableware has disappeared. Silver is still used for Tableware by the rich class of India. The items include Thali, Katori, Donga, Gilas (tumbler), Chamcha, Chamchi, and spouted Surahi.

Disappearing items

- Tiffin (Anglo-Indian English word for light meal or lunch) to pack lunch for the working spouse or meal for the children in school has almost been replaced by plastic containers. Tiffin carrier consisted of three round brass boxes (Dabba) held with a metal strap/handle.
- Most of the Terracotta items have disappeared: Kulhar, bowls, Ghara, Matka, Handi.
- Most prominent wooden tools have disappeared: Makhan Phirni (Churner), Ghotni, Bowls, Spoons, Spatula, and Dabla (wooden slat), Hamam Dasta. Nowadays India manufactures wooden spoons and spatula for export only.
- Stoneware such as Hamam Dasta, Sil Batta, have disappeared.
- Urban kitchens are being designed for stand-up operation eliminating use of Bonti, Chulha, Makhan Churner, Chakki.

New kitchenware

- Pressure cooker has become a standard item in Indian kitchen. It saves time in making Dal and many meat curries
- Coffee grinder, wet and dry grinder, food processor, and electric blender are becoming popular. These appliance have eliminated the need for Hamam-Dasta, and Sil-Batta.
- Roti makers are making Chakla and Belan as tools of the past. Electric Roti makers not only roll-out dough, but even cooks the Roti.

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