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anchita

Indian cutlery

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Hi all, my first post here.

At another forum I visit, there were some people wondering if India, with its distinct (and delicious!) cuisine for the past so many centuries, has also developed some distinct types of cutlery. For example, the westerners have knives such as chef's, boning, slicer, parer etc., the Japanese have their own, the Chinese have their cleavers and so on.

Being from India, however, I could not think of knives specific to India or its cuisine. To begin with, while I was there, I was never aware of cutlery as a very important part of the kitchen; whatever was sharp enough to cut would do, without much emphasis on its shape/design, ergonomics, steel etc., but that might've been just me... What I have usually seen in Indian (home) kitchens are what I would describe in western terms as 'utility' knives of different sizes, and some serrated ones that don't belong to any named category that I know of. Also, in my grandma's kitchen there used to be an old, wooden-handled carbon steel knife with square tip, presumably similar to what the Japanese use as their 'vegetable' knife. Again, my family is a vegetarian one, so I'm totally unaware of what cutlery might be used for meat.

I have been thinking about this for a while even before this question came up, and I am pretty intrigued to know what you think. So any thoughts regarding the specifc (or not so specifc) type of cutlery that was/is used in Indian cooking, vegetarian and non-veg, north or south, would be really interesting to know.

Thanks,

Anchita

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what about the fixed blade knife?

the kind you sit on the wooden part and

move the veggies back and forth to slice?

called bonthi in bangla and aruvaamanai in tamil?

also various coconut graters, though that may not

fit yr definition of cutlery?

milagai

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You know what, I've never seen one of those (the aruvaananai/bonthi), not one that I can remember or correlate.. But that seems to be a pretty interesting concept! Do you mean the blade is fixed on a wooden block/board and you wield the vegetable instead of the knife? Do you have a photograph that you can post (or the link to it?)


Edited by anchita (log)

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edited to add: oops..just noticed that its about 'cutlery' and not just any kitchen apparatus. sorry. my bad. post deleted.


Edited by FaustianBargain (log)

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Thanks for the link, da_coolestofall. It made for very interesting and informative reading (and looking!)

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not a problem anchita. Infact they have something similar to that in most north-indian homes too, but for some reason I have no idea what it's called.

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Not sure if the original poster meant cutlery as in things you eat with or cookware as in things you cook/prepare food with.

As for the latter, the "bonti", as others have mentioned is quite ubiquituous. In our Bengali household in Kolkata, there was one bonti for cutting vegetables, one bonti (a bigger one) for cutting fish and meat, and there was another one -- this one had the coconut grater attachment -- this one was used to grate coconuts.

Then there is a "katari", it is a heavy-duty knife, used for various things, e.g. chopping a green coconut.

Here are some other cookware/cutlery I can quickly think of, worth mentioning:

Then there is the "Shil nora" -- this is the Bengali equivalent of a mortar & pestle. The "Shil" is a flat, rectangular stone, and the nora is a cylindrical piece of stone. Both have notches made into them. These are used to wet-grind spices. Not sure if this is used in other parts of India.

Then there is also a "shanrashi" -- this is like a pair of pliers -- it's used to grab hot utensils.

You use a "Kunro" (made of clay) or "kolshi" (made of metal) to store water. The clay one is useful as is made of unglazed clay and hence slowly evaporates water, which in turn helps keep the water cool.

As for "eating-ware", there are plates, called "thala" in Bengali, and bowls, called "bati" and tumblers, called "gelash" (from english "glass" I think). We used to have stainless steel "thala"/"bati"/"gelash" for day-to-day use. Utensils made of "kansha" (a type of bronze) are more traditional, and in our household they were reserved for special occasions. We also had these "enamelled" utensils, but we rarely used the.

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Not sure if the original poster meant cutlery as in things you eat with or cookware as in things you cook/prepare food with.

As for the latter, the "bonti", as others have mentioned is quite ubiquituous. In our Bengali household in Kolkata, there was one bonti for cutting vegetables, one bonti (a bigger one) for cutting fish and meat, and there was another one -- this one had the coconut grater attachment -- this one was used to grate coconuts.

Then there is a "katari", it is a heavy-duty knife, used for various things, e.g. chopping a green coconut.

I meant cutlery to be mostly knives etc. I read the article about 'bonti/bonthi' from the link in a previous post.. Very informative and interesting. I hadn't seen one in the households I was familiar with in India (suburban Rajasthan) so it was particularly intriguing. Also, the word 'katar' and its variations mean the same thing in Hindi: some sort of a heavy knife, though not always used for cooking.

Here are some other cookware/cutlery I can quickly think of, worth mentioning:

Then there is the "Shil nora" -- this is the Bengali equivalent of a mortar & pestle. The "Shil" is a flat, rectangular stone, and the nora is a cylindrical piece of stone. Both have notches made into them. These are used to wet-grind spices. Not sure if this is used in other parts of India.

We call it 'sil batta.' Amazing how similar these names are!

Then there is also a "shanrashi" -- this is like a pair of pliers -- it's used to grab hot utensils.

And that is called 'sandasi' in Hindi, though some people simply call it a 'pakar/pakad' meaning 'grip.'

You use a "Kunro" (made of clay) or "kolshi" (made of metal) to store water.  The clay one is useful as is made of unglazed clay and hence slowly evaporates water, which in turn helps keep the water cool.

The clay pot would be a 'ghada' or 'matka.'

As for "eating-ware", there are plates, called "thala" in Bengali, and bowls, called "bati" and tumblers, called "gelash" (from english "glass" I think). We used to have stainless steel "thala"/"bati"/"gelash" for day-to-day use.  Utensils made of "kansha" (a type of bronze) are more traditional, and in our household they were reserved for special occasions. We also had these "enamelled" utensils, but we rarely used the.

Numerous similarities here too... Well, we ARE from the same country!!


Edited by anchita (log)

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Anchita - belated welcome to the forums. I appreciate your posts and look forward to hearing more from you.

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:laugh: In all of my years of eatingup food at home I've never come across one cutlery, that is not to say any least of indian cooking, but to comment the fact they are more aware of sensuality of food as more that of a total experience to touching it in your hands, very close to food, of ours, if ever it stings your hands because of heat bothe temperature or cause chilli, it may of a learning and leavening xperience to our souls... :laugh::raz::rolleyes:

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