Thursday, August 22, 2019

Once upon a time, Non-stick Pots and Pans used to rule in my Kitchen. All I cared about was to use less oil in my food. I simply used to overlook the gory details of the harmful side effects of Non-stick Cookware.
Thankfully, the time has changed since then, and so has my brain. Finally, I have realized the destructive features of Non-stick Cookware, and today, I can proudly say that I am Non-stick free. 
In my latest “Kitchen & Living” post, I have shared my thoughts on my favorite Stainless-steel Cookware. Click HERE to take a look at the post. They are the dominant Cookware in my Kitchen, and they really amaze me every day with their impressive performance. But there is one thing for which they are not the best.
Being a hardcore non-vegetarian, my family can't survive a single day without non-veg items. We don't prefer Chicken every day, once a week is alright for us. Naturally, the next best thing which would be delicious and healthy to consume every single day is Fish.
My Stainless-steel Cookware has served every single purpose except the fact that I can't fry fish in them, in less oil. Of course, deep frying is not an issue in Stainless Steel, but I don’t prefer that every day. If you come across Indian cuisine, specifically Fish delicacies, then you'll know that some regions in India prefer to eat Fish dishes after frying them. Whether it's a grilled fish or fish curry, to some people it tastes the best when it is at least shallow fried.
Anyways, the moral of the story is that I needed a Safe and Sound Cookware to fry Fish in less oil. And what comes up to save the day?

Cast Iron Cookware.

There are so many kinds of Iron vessels available in the local markets. I've used a few of them. But nothing comes up to the expectation I look for. For me, less oily food is really relevant. It's something I have been following at least since the last 15 years or so. I have grown up seeing my Mum cooking delicious food using minimum amount of oil. And when I learned to cook, I have followed and adopted the same techniques.
The difference between Regular Iron vessels and Cast Iron Cookware in terms of their making is difficult to discuss here. Frankly, all those scientific details are a lengthy process and also not everybody’s cup of tea. Ultimately, here, we are trying to decide what to buy and why? When I was researching for the details, I was hoping for an article which will simply let me know about the difference in a simple manner and in terms of usage difference. Sadly, I couldn't find anything specific in one single article. I had to spend a lot of time to finally understand the in-depth details. So, I thought, why don’t I share the things I have learned in the hard way, so that many like me come to know about it. So, here we are.

The Difference between Regular Iron and Cast Iron Cookware from the Usage Perspective:

1. Local/ Regular Iron vessels are typically lighter than Cast Iron Cookware. So, in terms of Cooking time, durability, and consumption of oil, Cast Iron is a far better option. When seasoned well, Cast Iron acts like a Non-stick surface, and you can cook your food in very less amount of oil. This doesn't happen that well in case of regular Iron.

2. It takes a long time and tremendous effort to season Local Iron vessels properly as the sellers sell them in their raw version. Whereas, well-known Cast Iron brands already pre-season the Cookware and then sell it. It saves time and effort, both equally.

3. Even after seasoning, local vessels can leach out blackish or brownish color element in the foods. In my experience, I haven’t faced such mishaps in Cast Iron vessels.

4. Both Local Iron and Cast Iron Cookware require an oil-coating after cleaning and drying. When I tried to use the local products for the next time, no matter how well I’ve cleaned it, I have noticed the rust coming out when I wipe out the oil from the pot. In Cast Iron, no such thing has happened to me as of now.

5. Many local sellers sell the Iron Pots and Pans with a fine coating which is artificial and can be injurious to health. Well-known Cast Iron cookware is always free from such synthetic lining.

6. In terms of weight, Cast Iron Cookware is super hefty, so they can be quite uncomfortable to handle in the beginning. Normal Iron vessels are always not that heavy compared to Cast Iron. It makes a massive difference in terms of managing the pots in the longer run. Cast Iron obviously wins for their amazing durable feature.

7. Last but not least, there are huge, I mean huge price difference between a local Iron pan and Cast Iron Pan. While local products’ cost can vary from INR 150 to 1oo0, a quality Cast Iron pan’s price begins from INR 1500. This can make or break the deal for many users, but all I can tell you is that a Good quality Cast Iron Pan will last you for generations.

How to Season and Take Care:

A well-known brand of Cast Iron Cookware always come with the pre-seasoned process. But still what you can do to take care is:
  •          While using the Cookware for the first time, wash it first with a gentle liquid dish wash. After drying with a dry cloth, heat it on the cook top on a slow flame for 15 to 20 minutes with some vegetable oil. Repeat this process 3 times. You can even fry some onions to make the surface Non-stick like. Remember to throw the onions after frying them and wipe out the oil using a tissue. Your Cookware is well-seasoned now and ready to use.
  •          After using the Cookware, always clean it gently with liquid soap, and if possible, with lukewarm water. Dry it, heat it on the stove top for a few minutes so that no moisture is left in it, and then coat it with some oil to keep it off the rust. Store them in a dry place.
  •          Do not use harsh soap or harsh scrubbing pad to clean the surface.
  •          While cooking, first put the cookware in the lowest heat, and then gradually increase the heat.
  •          It is best to avoid cooking acidic items like Tomatoes etc. in the Cast iron as they react with iron and you will get a weird metallic taste in the food. But after using the Cookware for a time being, it gets seasoned well and you can give it a shot. But keep an eye.
  •          After cooking, give the pot or pan time to rest. Let it cool down entirely before you wash them.
  •          If by any chance, traces of food are stuck in the bottom, soak it in lukewarm water for 10 minutes. All excess stuff will come off easily.

If you follow these methods, your Cookware will shine forever and go on for years after years. You many feel hesitation whether to invest your money on Cast Iron Cookware or not, but I can assure you that if you maintain them well, it will serve you for the lifetime.

Brands I trust:

1. Lodge Cast Iron Cookware: 

Undoubtedly, they are one of the best Cast Iron brands. Lodge Pots and Pans are widely available online. You can buy it from Amazon India. But, be careful with the sellers as you may end up buying fake products. It's safer to buy from the Company distributor itself. You can take a look in the following links as they seem to be the Distributor of Lodge in India. Click in the Links below.

Pic Credit: Amazon India

Pic Credit: Amazon India

Pic Credit: Amazon India

Amazon India Links if You want to buy from there:

2. Meyer: 

Meyer has launched their Cast Iron Cookware in India now. I have bought their Cast Iron Tawa (large flat, concave or convex disc-shaped frying pan, e.g: dripping pan/ flat skillet/ griddle). Though it is a Roti (Indian Flat Bread) Tawa, it is wonderful to use for frying Fish (which I, in fact, do regularly), sautéing vegetables, making Pancakes, Omelettes, Chilla recipes (spiced pancakes using different flours), and even yummy Tawa Recipes. I bought it recently after much research, and have been using this daily since the last six months. It hasn’t let me down so far.
I chose this Meyer Tawa over Lodge Cookware only because this Tawa has a concave bottom which makes it perfect for preparing Rotis, Paranthas (both are Indian Breads), etc., for frying fish and making Tawa recipes in a small batch. Other necessities are covered by my Bergner Stainless-steel Cookware. Otherwise, I would definitely have opted for a Lodge Skillet or Pan. I am still eyeing them though regularly for the near future. 😉
I bought my Tawa from the Pots and Pans Website. They also sell it on Amazon India.
Click on the links and take a look at the Tawa.

This brand 'Meyer' has also provided a Handle Holder to hold the hot handle comfortably. There is no chance of any mishap during the cooking time.

Pic Credit: Amazon India

Give Cast Iron Cookware a go if you haven’t already. You won’t be disappointed.

Happy Living…

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