In 2019, retro is in. From dedicated radio channels that play classic music to the return of bell bottoms and polka dots, we are constantly celebrating the good ol’ style. And when it comes to home decor, particular, kitchens and cookware, the trend seems to following suit. Take kitchenware for instance, where more and more brands are going back to traditional utensils and materials. Purvi Parikh, the owner of Mumbai-based Tranceforme, believes that most of her customers now come looking for kitchenware made in clay and even ask for the soapstone bowls for their breakfast smoothie bowls. She adds, “There is a lot of design development in recycled, sustainable and durable materials since the world is trying to go green.” Let’s explore this trend!
Traditional Kitchenware: Emerging trend
Two years ago, when the Gauri Khan-designed Arth opened in Mumbai, chef Amninder Sandhu’s gas-less kitchen became the talk of the town. She brought back things like silbatta, sigri, mortar, pestle, and more, to a fine dining space and changed the way patrons engaged with Indian food.
“A lot of Indian homes that still have mortar and pestle in the kitchen, which not just personifies rustic charm, but helps crush ingredients, releasing essential oils and full-bodied flavours. Crushing them is far more effective than using a machine in exposing the vital flavours. It is one of the most ancient methods used in cooking that brings together a sensational product,” enthuses Amninder.
Traditional Kitchenware: Back to Basics
When it comes to retail, there are several brands that are now opting to go old school with their offerings. Bangalore brand Zishta, run by Meera Ramakrishnan, Varishta Sampath and Archish Mathe Madhavan, is making a conscious effort to bring back forgotten kitchen essentials into a modern house.
Ramakrishnan says, “Zishta works with the same cluster of rural artisans who have been making products by their hand using the method that their ancestors taught them.” Some of the hottest selling items at Zishta are the pure iron tawa, cast iron kadai (wok), kalchatti (soapstone) cooking vessels, a tin vessel for making rasam (eeya chombu) and brass coffee filter for making a coffee decoction.
Traditional Kitchenware: Back to Basics
Pune-based Coppre, founded by Rashmi Ranade, Chhanda Bihari, Sudakshina Sinha Banerjee, and Seemantini Mihir has been fundamental in bringing back the trend of the heritage copper craftwork to kitchens. They, in fact, changed the way artisans are remunerated, from a weight-based to a per-piece model there by increasing their earnings by almost 30 percent.
What about maintenance? She responds, “Copper requires daily wash and wipe, just the way glass needs to be wiped and dried, else the watermarks remain (she smiles). On a lighter note, yes, metals are heavier, but this is why in olden times, people didn’t need to visit a gym to lift weights.”
Traditional Kitchenware: Contemporary Matka
Ayush Baid, founder, Ellementry, claims that consumers are becoming conscious of the importance of sustainability and the ways it can improve their lives. “Our papier-mâché material is lucrative because it is created by recycling waste–to be precise, by using marble dust, wood dust, old papers, and natural glue. Cane, wicker and wood products also grab the customer’s attention. Our terracotta collection has water bottles, jugs, tumblers, curd setters, and roti boxes. We’ve reshaped the matka into a contemporary avatar,” elaborates Ayush.
Cookware in Kitchens: Ancient Wisdom
Coppre co-founder Seemantini Mihir explains, “Traditional practice recommends specific metals for specific purposes, for example copper for water, kansa for food, brass (with tinning) for cooking. The dish one uses transfers trace elements of the metal that is beneficial, for instance, copper-charged water transmits a certain amount of copper required by the human body.”
Cookware in Kitchens: Health Benefits
Stoneware is considered one of the healthiest material to eat from. “Traditional cookware consumes around 15 percent lesser fuel as they retain heat, cook evenly and faster. Secondly, most of the traditional cookware retain over 98 percent of minerals of what is being cooked in it. Thirdly, they consume lesser oil. And lastly, well-tested traditional cookware does not have harmful chemical coatings giving an authentic taste and aroma to the food cooked in them,” explains Zishta’s Ramakrishnan.
Cookware in Kitchens: Alchemy On Your Plate
The Alkaline nature of clay interacts with acidity in food and neutralises it, aiding better digestion. Kansa is a mixture of 85 percent copper and 15 percent tin and as per Ayurveda, eating from kansavessels purifies the food, improves immunity, and enhances brain function. If you prepare and drink filter coffee in brass tumblers, the alkaline content of the metal will cut out the acidity of the coffee and enhance the flavour as well as aroma of your favourite dark liquid. Bon appetit!