If we ever got a chance to re-work the phrase 'from the frying pan and into the fire', we’d unhesitatingly change it to –from the pan and into the mouth. Is it catchy? The jury’s still out. Is it apt? As apt as kadhi chawal on a Sunday.
Hear us out; our reason is sound. A pan is the express route to a delicious meal. It can make humble ingredients sing like a culinary orchestra (noodles, soups, sauces) or make just a single item shine (sunny side eggs, dosa!), and all this in no time at all. While you may have one or two lining up your kitchen, say, one for chapatis and another for dosas, there’s more where they come from.
Here’s what they are and how you can use them:
Wide, flat bottom with high sides, the frying pan lends itself rather well for browning or sautéing. It’s great for dry-roasting masalas, putting together a quick stir-fry, tossing a pasta or reducing its sauce to a thicker consistency. We’d recommend opting for a stainless steel fry pan, preferably with an aluminum or copper core. A good heat conductor at the core of your vessel will help to heat the pan quickly, distribute it evenly and also retain that heat for longer. The pan should have securely welded long handles that stays cool to the touch.
A traditional saucepan, of about 1-2 Litres will have straight, tall sides to prevent moisture loss with a thick bottom for consistent heating. This is exactly what you need when you’re brewing chai, boiling milk, making a soup or melting chocolate for icing. We don’t recommend one made of regular aluminum or cast iron as their cooking surfaces may react to acidic foods. Invest in a good quality stainless steel saucepan- trust us, it’s a gift that keeps on giving!
The grill pan gets the job done without you having to fire up the grill or the oven- a blessing if you ask us, given our sweltering summers. The indented surface is great for searing or charring vegetables, meat, kebabs, fish, and for the more adventurous ones, even fruits. While a cast-iron grill pan is a kitchen classic you can opt for more budget-friendly and equally versatile options, like ones made from die-cast aluminum. Die-cast aluminum ensures that your cookware last longer and also heats evenly. Look for one with a non-stick surface so that your oil consumption is limited and the cleaning up easy.
Ever watched a chef working in the open kitchen of a restaurant, tossing the food in a manner best described as an art-form? Well, that’s what you can do (with varying degrees of success) with a wok. Not to be found in our mothers’ or grandmas’ kitchens, the wok is as unfamiliar to Indian kitchen as the chowmein is familiar. But it is handy if you like to rustle up Asian delicacies for yourself or your family. While selecting a wok you should keep an eye out for one made with a metal that’s a very conductor of heat (again, die cast aluminum works well), has a non-stick cooking surface, is built with high, flared sides so you can flip & toss without the contents spilling out and the steam is allowed to escape so the end result is crispy, not soggy.
Just remember, as with language so with cookware-, you can keep adapting, adding and expanding.