I’ll start out online looking for a new wireless mouse but will find my way to the cast iron skillet or the no-drip oil dispenser or the cute milk bottle. I’ll buy the cast iron skillet, vacillate over the oil dispenser and forego the new mouse as a compromise.
I am a kitchen nazi (bajaari in Madras tamil), a hoarder of spoons, a dabba fanatic, a crazy collector of all things vintage and kitchen and a greedy kitchen-tool buyer. I am always on the lookout for that new nifty little tool that’ll peel the sambar onions for me. It is always the sambar onions. In pursuit of that elusive tool, I have amassed easily the largest amount of clutter that my tiny kitchen can hold. But I haven’t yet found the one that’ll peel sambar onions for me.
Here’s a list of some of my favourite kitchen tools. My absolute must-haves are my knife and pressure cookers. I’ve not listed the staples here. I am not the one who’ll buy a yogurt maker or bread machine. I am not a fan of super-specialized gadgets. The tools I have listed here are a bit more diverse yet really good at some very specific tasks.
Double blade Mincing (rocking) knife – I love to use this to chop up greens and herbs. I bunch up my greens and go over them once with my rocking knife, turn 90 degree and chop again, turn – chop, turn – chop and it’s done. What I really love is that I don’t have to be holding the greens but I can still chop them real fine. You could easily use this knife to chop or mince onions, garlic or nuts too. These knives are extremely sharp. So be extra careful while washing them.
Popcorn maker that I never make popcorn in but roast nuts in all the time – I bought this one at an exhibition (its called Smartpop), the kind where there are these stalls that sell vegetable choppers and roti makers and they do such impressive demos, it takes all your will power to not buy them. I bought it for just under 1000 bucks if I remember correctly. You can air fry small vathals, fryums and nuts in them. Jagan likes to roast a big batch of almonds in them. He lets them cool down before transferring them into a jar. It makes a wonderful snack for anytime of the day. We’d pop a few roasted almonds every time we pass the jar.
My stylish new coffee filter with a kettle like spout – I am totally smitten by this kettle style coffee filter. If you love filter kaapi, then you’ll love this one for the design and the convenience. This is your traditional coffee filter with a perforated cup to hold the coffee powder, a press to tightly pack the coffee powder and a bottom chamber to collect the decoction. But this one has a kettle like spout that lets you pour the decoction from the filter without opening up anything. And this is even better than the percolator type coffee filter. In the percolator, the decoction is not as concentrated as I’d like it to be. I chanced upon this kettle style coffee filter in Rathna Stores. I am sure it must be available in other major stores too.
Handheld Blender – The Hand blender doesn’t do anything the mixie doesn’t. However I am terrified of blending hot stuff. I know I need to let things cool down but I don’t most of the time. I feel safer using a hand blender to puree soups, make keerai masiyal and blend sauces. If you are the kind that won’t peep in and check your jelly before it sets, you won’t need the hand blender. You’ll probably wait for things to cool down before blending them.
Cast-Iron Tawa – These cast-Iron beauties are now made in India and available on Amazon. If you’re looking to move away from non-stick cookware, go for this one. I love how it needs zero maintenance and still works great. These cast-iron tawas need to be seasoned first. Just smear all over with oil, wipe off excess and then bake in the oven for an hour at 200 degrees celsius. Let cool, wipe with a paper towel and use. It is non-stick, heats up real nice and produces lovely crisp exteriors on food. It is safe and lasts forever. I make dosai, adai and chappathis on mine.
Can opener – I bought this can opener when I was in Boston last year. I just loved the way it glided around the can and popped the lid off effortlessly. I thought it was magic. I just enjoyed opening cans now. I don’t open too many cans in India. Most of them have a pull-up lever too. But I still use my can opener to open the can.
Mandoline Slicer – Truth be told, I haven’t used this one as often and I don’t think I’ll use it as often. But I really love the neat uniform slices. It is a great tool if you are making fries, chips or salads, if you’re cooking for a large crowd. Slicing is effortless and perfect with a mandolin slicer.
Squeegee – I saved the best for the last. This is by far THE most useful tool in my kitchen. You haven’t spent enough time in the kitchen if you haven’t let the milk boil over and dropped eggs on the floor. At these moments, when you are about to unleash your worst ‘beep’ vocabulary on everyone and everything around you, this squeegee will be your best friend. Trust me. It makes cleaning up messy liquids super easy and totally stress-free. It is also a great tool to clean up your counter-top and wipe up spills on your dining table. Try it.
I hope this list is useful for you. I’d love to know what your favourite kitchen tools are. Let me know in the comments.