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Nostalgia associated with traditional metals

Traditional cookware lasts for years and is chiefly a one-time investment. “My grandmother still uses them in her daily cooking. Today, they are an integral part of our household too. Every time my favourite dish is made, joy and nostalgia come rushing back.”

AVANTIKA BHUYAN: While growing up, one of my favorite summer chores was to sit in the kitchen with al my cousins and squeeze a dal mixture through a unique metal contraption to make sev. Over time, as ready-made namkeen/ snacks took over and became a more convenient option, the entire process of sev making became a activity of the past.

However, there are certain vintage pieces that came into the family as a part of my grandmother’s trousseau. And I have been holding onto very dearly.

One is a beautiful set of Gujiya moulds made in brass with petals carved on the edges. and the other is a gorgeous paan daan completed with a sarota for cutting supari. Later in life, mom converted this into a treasure chest of all sorts to keep dry fruits and other nick-nacks.

SANANDAN KUTHIYALA: coming from a mix of Himachali and Punjabi families, our house was a melting point of both these traditions. But one tradition that was stationary as the North Pole in the sky was the use of Kansa for eating and drinking. Kansa – the untouched metal, a metal that’s sanctity could never be broken. A metal fit for gods and human alike. Every meal was first offered to gods in Kansa thali’s and then we ate in the very same utensil! The strong belief that kansa can never get impure and that it has the god’s blessings in it was rooted from the fact that the metal held many healing properties which seeped into the food.

Kavitha Senthil, a homemaker and farming enthusiast from Coimbatore, said: “We have made the switch from non-stick to cast iron recently, and our dosas and paniyarams taste better than ever. My family has been using traditional cookware for years, even though they were temporarily lured by the modern, shiny, coated cookware for a while a few years ago. All dals and greens are invariably cooked in clay pots – smashed with a chetti before allowing them to come to a nice simmer. In a place like Coimbatore any potter can make you clayware upon request, and my mother has had hers for over a decade.”

Balaji said there are rules to follow when cooking with traditional cookware – and yes, “they’re slightly more difficult to maintain than the regular ones” – but in the end it is all worth it. Her traditional cookware is the real deal – non-branded items, procured from blacksmiths and potters who are part of the community, or community market in her mother-in-law’s hometown, near Puducherry.

Anjali Gupta from Bihar tell us, “Back at home, different generations of my family women have been fond of collecting various types of utensils. My grand mother’s generation was fond of copper, brass and kansa utensils. As far as I remember, the kansa dining set that my grandmother had was very beautiful because of its surface design. Dadi used to take them out only on festive occasions. For her, kansa utensils were soo pure that she used to keep them packed separately in the loft and would bring them to used on festivals to serve god food.”

Amruta Panda from Bhubaneshwar shares some facts which her grand parents taught her. She tells us, “Nanu used to say, during their young days, there wasn’t a single home without kansa utensils. It is only after aluminum and steel utensils came in the picture that people stopped using them. Nanu said that drinking water from kansa vessel on daily basis enhances our immunity, and yes he did what he said every day! I’ve been staying away from home since a long time now, and even today my parents tell me to use kansa utensils for cooking as it helps build our immunity apart from purifying the food. It also is a good conductor of heat and retains heat well, there by keeping the food warmer and contains the richness of the food for a longer period of time. Staying alone makes me lazy in following the cooking do’s and don’t’s but I make sure that I’m drinking water from a kansa glass only which belonged to my grandfather.”