Feature| Vintage Indian Pots & Pans … journeying into culinary culture!

“Each culture is known by it’s culinary traditions”
Abdul Haleem Sharar

Vintage Indian Pots & PansThis is not a recipe post, yet a culinary one … with a little bit about the hert of New Delhi, some vintage looking pots and pans, and a dash of colour. A misty winter afternoon visit to New Delhi, or Lutyen’s Delhi as it is referred to, is never complete without a  drive up Raisina Hill which leads to the gates of the Indian Presidents house or Rashtrapati Bhavan. Lutyens’ Delhi is an area in New Delhi named after the leading British architect Edwin Lutyens. He was responsible for much of the architectural design and building when India was part of the British Empire.New DelhiWith Edwin Lutyens, Sir Herbert Baker was instrumental in designing New Delhi. The North & South Block on either side of the Rashtrapathi Bhavan or Presidents Estate were designed by Sir Herbert Baker who contributed beautiful lotus motifs, elephants and Mughal chhatris or kiosks. There are four sandstone columns surmounted by a bronze ship sailing east, two in front of each blocks representing the dominions of the British empire namely Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. {A great read is Patti’s post Our India Adventure from A to Z about her recent India visit on Worth The Whisk. She’s captured the spirit of this beautiful country in her post, followed by one on food.}

Raisina Hill, Lutyen's Delhi For me, no visit is also complete without a mandatory stop at Tashi’s shop in the Tibetan Market on Janpath, translated as ‘People’s Path’, one of the main roads in New Delhi’s commercial district. I endeavor to buy at least a couple of things from this quaint and intriguing  little shop on each visit, an attempt to build my culinary bric-à-brac while the kids stamp their impatient feet! Doma Copper Brass, New Delhi

A very pleasant young man, Tashi Nima, runs his shop, Doma Copper Brass, with a passion. He knows his stuff & his prices are fixed. He has his suppliers, & is known to supply a lot of people with Indian/sub continent bric-a brac. The wares move fast & he sells a mix of old & new culinary items. Everything is handmade, including the handles, rivets , latches etc. The wares aren’t antique, but do date back to the 1910′s etc, & the artistry is entirely mesmerizing.

bric-à-bracTashi Numa  now recognises me and each time I stop by, he mischievously dissuades me from buying up his whole place. I have to keep asking him not to show me new stuff, tempt me with pans I find irresistible etc. This time Mr PAB was with me and he  just isn’t the shopping kind. He accompanies me if I ask him too, but doesn’t have the patience of a seasoned shopper… but Tashi and his Aladdin’s cave had Mr PABs eyes light up like a gazillion stars!Vintage Indian Pots & Pans - my collectionHe took roots in the shop, spellbound by the young mans stories.  Tashi knows the history behind where each piece comes from, the rough time period it belongs to, the uses in that day and age, why it had been given a tin or silver cladding … fascinating! He treats each piece as his baby, talking about the origins lovingly, patiently, passionately and with in-depth knowledge! Every thing I gathered on the table had to be bought declared Mr PAB. I was horrified and Tashi knows me. He jokingly said, “Yes don’t force her. You still need money for lunch!!” Mr PAB emptied his wallet {Tashi accepts cash only} and said ‘We’ll take it all!He LOVED the place, the nostalgia, the journey back in time, the rustic ambience…Vintage Indian Pots & Pans-my collectionI came back thrilled with my battered looking collection. There is rustic charm in these vintage pieces, each piece holds a tale, a story, a reflection of time gone by! Just talking to Tashi, one gathers priceless bits of information. The vessels that come from the North Eastern hills are simple, while the ones from the plains have intricate patterns worked on them, as do some from Kashmir.  My copper frying pan has the artists name engraved on the bottom, a feeling of belonging, a pride in his artistry.

In the field of metal work a variety of styles are seen in different parts of India. In the Ladakh area of Kashmir traditional vessels are made out of iron and brass. Many richly engraved traditional household items like bowls, samovars, plates and trays are also made in Kashmir. In “Naqasi”, elaborate floral and calligraphic designs are imprinted on copper and silver items. These items are then oxidized, which makes the design to stand out from the background.

Vintage Indian Pots & PansMost copperware was clad in metal. The poor would clad their utensils with tin, and the rich with silver. The plain looking simple vessels with just usability as their main feature belonged to the common man, while the intricately worked, domed dishes like serving dishes belonged to the rich, the upper classes,  a reflection of the socio-economic system that prevailed in India centuries ago. Just fascinating how much you can learn about a people and it’s culture from mere utensils! Going back in time, in many ways, the Indian society and its cuisine was as diverse as the utensil it was served in!Vintage Indian Pots & Pans - my collectionMost of the wares are dated back 50-100 years, so aren’t a 100% safe for cooking in. Some have lost their cladding, while others look like they were never clad! As Tashi says, most of them are good to use for boiling water, or for serving non-acidic stuff in {e.g. tomato based gravies can react with the metal if kept for an extended period of time}. I buy them just for quick culinary photo shoots and importantly to add charm to my kitchen.  Just  having them surround me fills me with a strange sense of comfort, connect & unexplained nostalgia. There is so much power in food@pennydelosantos via twitter!Vintage Indian Pots & PansTell me dear reader, do you have favourite shops like these that haunt you and call your name? Are you tempted to buy old rustic culinary ware? Do you find them as charming and comforting as I do? If shipping wasn’t that steep,  if metal wasn’t that heavy, I would happily start an Etsy store and help others build a collection too … if!!

“If wishes were horses
Beggars would ride:
If turnips were watches
I would wear one by my side
And if ifs and ans were pots and pans,
The tinker would never work!”

Vintage Indian Pots & Pans♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Feature| Baking in Delhi … the vitalstatistics!

“Some people give time, some money, some their skills and connections, some literally give their life’s blood. But everyone has something to give.”
Barbara Bush

Baking in Delhi ... the vitalstatistics!Baking in India is a whole new ball game, a challenge like none other, where something as basic as uninterrupted power supply might pose one of the biggest challenges yet. By the time you whip, the eggs, fold in the flour and pre-heat the oven, the minute you pop the tin into the magic box…POP, there might be a power cut.While finding a way around that might be a little expensive, and not easy for most of us, I’m going to try and list a set of resources to tackle the other important issues – EQUIPMENT, INGREDIENTS and BAKING TINS etc. This little list is based on what I use, my experiences with other fellow bakers…and trivia I find here & there.I will continue to build on it as I go along.

Do leave a comment/mail me if I have missed something! I would love to hear from you!

A fellow foodie blogger I recently exchanged notes with, the very sweet Pamela Timms @ Eat & Dust who I finally got to meet after ages of planning. We met at the French Pastry Festival for a Le Cordon Blue workshop run by LBC Master Chef Christian Fuare, hosted at The Oberois. Once the workshop was done, we chatted through a light, flavourful and delicious lunch and covered the ups and downs of baking in India.

With some inputs from Pamela too, with gentle pressure from the sweet Suma @ Cakes And More, and many emails from kind, patient readers of PAB, without further delay, here we go…

In my kitchen

1. Oven – I use a Morphy Richards 40L oven I recently purchased. It’s a nice oven, a good size and has a variety of oven settings. {Pamela has the same, and in addition has a Bajaj as well that she recommends}. Right now there aren’t any problems, but if I need to fix it there are sites like PartSelect that provide appliance parts and have tutorials.

2. Electric Handbeater – This is indispensable for someone like me, and I use it all time. I use an in-store brand from Croma {which turned out to be a sturdy one imported by Croma from WoolWorth}

3. Thermomix – A magical kitchen food processor, and not just that. It even cooks. In the Thermomix, processing takes just seconds. It can weigh, chop, grind, mince, mill, knead, whisk, beat, blend, puree, whip and juice! I use my TM every single day, and love it to bits.  {Thermomix in India}

4. Things I can’t live without … my microplane zester, spatulas, nutmeg grater, box grater, Santuko knives, Ergo chef knives, more knives, mixing bowls of every size {glass & steel}, balloon whisks, offset spatulas, bread knives, potato peeler {shaves chocolate curls and cheese well too}, stack of chopping boards, candy thermometer, cookie scoop, pastry bags, icing set with many nozzles, rolling pin{s}, dessert rings {adjustable and fixed}, Lazy Susan {you got to love this creation}, weighing scale {even though the Thermomix has one}, cherry pitter {thank you Purple Foodie}, disposable piping bags {thank you Suma},  … and as much parchment paper as I can possibly stash. I think parchment paper is one of the best inventions ever! I just wish we had some locally available for home use. I know that some is being produced here but it’s for commercial use! :-(

Update: Parchment paper is now available locally – look for it at Modern Bazaar, Needs, Big Bazaar

5. More things I can’t live without … Endless baking tins, loose bottomed tart tins, petit four molds, ceramic ramekins, odd plates, white crockery, spoons of every size and shape…

Pantry Staples for Baking:

I’ll begin with the basic basics…

White butter: I actually make my own every week and store it in 100gm portions in the freezer. It keeps as good as fresh. White/unsalted/baking butter is difficult to find locally in the NCR. You might find some local brands like Gopaljee at your neighbourhood dairy. Imported Lurpak is available at gourmet stores like La Marche.

Plain flour: Simple old maida. Modern Bazaar stores cake flour in addition.

Whole wheat flour: Aata {I use Aashirwaad}

Vanilla Beans: Available well packed and organic at Fab India. I get 500gm packs from Down South – ‘Vanilla India Producer Company’, Ernakulam, Kerela { Ctc 91 4846599233/9349256746 }.

Vanilla Powder: Available in 50gm sachets at Fab India outlets

Vital Gluten: Available at Modern Bazaar {on request; ask the Store Manager}

Sugar : I use plain granulated sugar most of the time. For quick bakes I grind the sugar, and use this even in place of icing sugar.

Vanilla Sugar: Just slip a slit vanilla bean {after scraping seeds for use in something} into a jar of granulated sugar, and shut the jar tight. Store in a cool place, shaking it once or twice a day. You should have sweet smelling vanilla sugar in about a week.

Pure Vanilla Extract: I make my own {do remember it takes a while to get ready, 3-6 months}

Brown sugar: I use light brown demerera most of the time when brown sugar {light/dark} is called for. Muscavado Sugar is available imported in most gourmet stores but does cost a packet. I prefer to stick to local brands.

Yeast: I use Gloripan / Mauripan brand instant yeast that Suma from Bangalore sends me from time to time. Check her blog Cakes & More for the online source {You will be surprised at the baking/patisserie stuff you get there}. I also use fresh yeast that is available in 500gm blocks available at Modern Bazaar {Vasant Vihar and DLF}. I store the block in my freezer, and chip off the bit I want to use. Never had a problem with it. Dried yeast is also available in most ‘kirana‘ stores, and in INA etc.

Buttermilk: Best discovery to date. Saw something at local Mother Dairy outlet, checked the ingredients and did a dance of joy. Chhach is cultured buttermilk sold in 500ml packs at Mother dairy and Amul. For baking, use the plain chhach.

Baking Chocolate: The very bane of every Indian bakers life … but help is at hand with an online store Delicious Now. I often order 2-3kgs of there couverture chocolate for my baking. Its a good quality, single bean origin chocolate {55%} which works well for me. They have 10kg packs on there site, but did repackage and meet my order for 3kgs. {Priced at @700 per kg/Nov2011}. It’s a good couverture for home baking, though you stock a higher % chocolate as well.

A chocolate supplier in Ludhiana can be found at Chocolate and Baby Spice {chocoandbabyspice@hotmail.com} and they courier slabs of dark chocolate etc, and accept payment via bank transfers online. They are very reliable and efficient as I have ordered from them often in the past.

Other than this, you can find Calebaut, Selbourne, Morde at INA market. Morde is available in 500gm bars in white, milk and dark baking chocolate in most gourmet stores like Modern Bazaar, La Marche etc.

Pimento in Jangpura also stock chocolate – +91-9810003527 or +91-9810245682. {Thank you Meenu Iyer}

Almond Meal: INA Market, mainly during winter

Dry fruits, candied peel, whole spices etc: Old Delhi, INA Market

Cocoa: My heart is set on Valrohna but it is too expensive here, as are other imported brands. What do I use? Nilgiris cocoa powder from down South thanks again to Suma and the hubs trips to Bangalore, my stock is maintained. Its a good, dark cocoa {no idea if it is alkaline or not, but to tell you the truth, I have never bothered to check}, and I have never met with a problem!

Cream: C is for cream and in India the non availability of whipping cream can make you weep. All we get is 20% low fat Amul cream {and Gopaljee in the NCR at times}. I use Amul {200ml tetrapacks} for my mascarpone etc, and for frosting too. I keep it chilled in the fridge. See my Cream in India 101…whipping it into submission. Imported whipping cream is available in most gourmet stores.

Update {Aug 2012}: After repeated requests on Amuls FB wall, they have come back to me saying they are working on a whipping cream! So there is hope in the near future.

Soft cheese: I make my own mascarpone, ricotta and  quark. {recipe here}. Local Indian soft cheese is available in most gourmet stores like Modern Bazaar, INA, La Marche, Natures Basket. These stores sell a large variety of imported cheese as well.

Miscellaneous:

  •  Pigmento in Jangpura has a range of chocolate compounds and cocoa and tons of fillings, colors and other stuff useful for baking/making chocolates – call them at +91-9810003527 or +91-9810245682. {Thank you Meenu Iyer}
  • Modern Bazaar, Vasant Vihar & DLF Phase 1, Gurgaon has an extensive aisle with baking products {which are often found to be priced quite high} You would find vital gluten there on demand. Please request the store manager.
  • Parchment paper – You could order online. Just mail your requirement to passionate.baking@gmail.com. They have a FB page Passionate Baking
  • Bakersmart – An online store for buying gloripan yeast and compound chocolate and some other stuff like pans and liners and fondant press etc {thank you Ketkee @ The Constant Nibbler}

Shopping for pots and pans, ramekins etc:Pots & pans in Delhi

1. Baking tins, dessert rings, bread knives, bread molds, muffin trays, icing sets, pastry bags … and lots more in this little shop in Old Delhi. Take the Metro to Chawri Bazaar, and a rickshaw from there. I love this shop! {Update April 2013- They have a website too now.}

1730/B, Bazar Lal Kuan, Delhi 110006
Mohd Kashif, Ctc 9311150022
{Deals in bakery ware, cake mould, bread mould, muffin tray, pizza tray, cake stand, halwai ware, kitchen ware}
2. Vintage pots and pans
Doma Copper Brass
12 Tibetan Market
Janpath,
New Delhi
Tashi Nima , Ctc 9999700186
3. Urbandazzle is all about living with style. Be it Drinking, Dining, Decor or Gifting – it’s the one-stop shop for all such items. Urban Dazzle is a must visit too for bakers in India. Ramekins are reasonable here, as is other bakeware. Bakeware, dessertware, bottles, RAMEKINS, cake plates, decanters, kitchen essentials, table essentials, tumblers, carafes… a huge variety under one roof! Be it Drinking, Dining, Decor or Gifting, it’s the one-stop shop for all such items. While most of their current selection is made of glass, they intend to diversify into other items going forward.

4. Stores like The Home Store, Osaba {Vasant Vihar}, Tarini {Greater Kailash & DLF Phase 4}, Croma {Sanjeev Kapoors silicon baking line}, Lifestyle stock good quality baking tins, ramekins, ceramics etc but do check in advance as stocks are very erratic!
5. Butler Mart, Lajpat Nagar, New Delhi – Bakeware, Kitchenware, Electrical appliances {palette knives, icing knives, baking dishes of all sizes, even serving plates etc.} {Thank you Eishaan Bhargava for the link.}

…. will keep updating!

HAPPY BAKING!!

Helpful links

Baking in Bangalore

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