Shallow Cooking Pots that are Not Woks

Update as of 24 Nov 2009

The cauldron is not a commonly used kitchen utensil in India. Most of us have heard this from foreigners who described them in books and comics whilst a witch’s broth was under preparation or a wizard was making his magical potion, or even comically when a baby accidentally fell into a cauldron and gained magical strength. However, not many would know that a cauldron or at least a look-alike was used often in Kerala kitchens to make some of their choicest puddings,  prathaman and payasam and some were so large they were never taken off the wood stoked stoves, and had to be cleaned there after dousing the fire. Most of these large, wide-mouthed pots also had curved edges and “ears” to handle them. The circular handles were part of the rim and could either be flexible and dangle at the edge or remain firm. The heavier the gauge of the metal used, the better they were for cooking and to ensure food-gradability, they were often made of alloys. Towards the end of the last century, they quietly disappeared from Kerala kitchens, as women and men folk alike migrated outwards making it impractical to use large cauldrons for cooking, so they were reserved for the annual visits to the “country” when family and friends would gather to savour the creamy coconut puddings. But with the proliferation of the tourism industry and the tendency to go back to the roots, many of these cauldrons are finding a new pride of place in unusual forms – at reception counters of hotels welcoming guests with flowers or widely used at the spas filled with scented water and pretty tropical blooms, and even some smart homes where they are the centre of attraction with floating flowers and candles. So like they say, some old traditions don’t die or fade away, they simply reinvent themselves.

The D Street Boyz have installed some nice artwork at their office; last year it was the bronze bull and this year it is the bronze cauldron. I still don’t know if it is a marketing gimmick for some spa or resort hotel in God’s Own Country, but the idea was neat to decorate and attract attention. However, the D Boyz, with their penchant to get carried away quite easily, stopped at the entrance of D Street and admired the contours of the cauldron – they saw the left “ear” handle – then the body of the cauldron, and finally the right “ear” handle. The SENSEX graph was etched accordingly – take a look…

The day that saw dips as low as 130 points and also saw positive SENSEX twice for a few minutes, ended in keeping with the “hanging ear handle” – 49 points down at 17131.

Incidentally, a Malayali friend enlightened me further – that there were indeed 2 types of cauldrons used back home – the one commonly referred to as the Uruli was the one with the “ear handles”, while the one without was the charakk.



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