Kalchatti – A Traditional Cooking Vessel in South India

Kalchatti – The “Stone Vessel”

Kalchatti is a cooking vessel made of soft soapstone. The word “Kalchatti” means just that – “Stone Vessel”.

Many families have begun re-introducing the kalchatti to their kitchens in their attempt to reintroduce the traditional back in their lives.

We believe that healthy food, cooking and eating is a holistic activity. As a part of that, we advocate cooking in vessels that are good for our body and aid healthy cooking. Therefore, we believe that the purpose of eating organic is partly defeated if we cook it in nonstick vessels or wash these vessels with chemicals.

stone vessel

From the past to the present

These stone vessels have been used by our grandmothers, who would pass them on to their children and by them to their grandchildren – used, aged, and cherished!

The craft of making Kalchattis is dying a dying art. All the craftsmen we know of are over 60 years of age. They tell me that since they earn so less they have discouraged their children from following this path. Therefore the likelihood is that 10 years from now this handmade stone cooking vessel may be extinct!

Unless… as a part of moving towards healthy cooking, many many more of us city dwellers decide to try out using them.

stone vessel

Is your Kalchatti ready for use?

The new kalchatti we receive fresh from the craftsmen is whitish grey in colour. Before they are put to use, these cooking vessels need to be “seasoned”.

We send it out to you only after two rounds of seasoning. Each round of this process involves the following

  1. Keeping water in it overnight
  2. Boiling rice water (excess water drained out after cooking rice with bran – also called “kanji” in Tamil Nadu and Kerala)
  3. Applying cold pressed coconut oil and turmeric inside and outside.

However, we suggest that you do another round or two of seasoning to get comfortable with your kalchatti. Initially boil some water in which you have washed rice or rice kanji in it, let it cool and wash the kalchatti before you use it. Also, apply some organic oil inside once in a way. Some people mix the organic oil with organic turmeric powder. Keep it for a few hours or overnight and wash it off before cooking. This helps darken the colour and supposedly improves the texture of the stone.

stone vessel

Traditional recipes that go with the Kalchatti

Here are some traditional recipes you can try with your new traditional slow cooking vessel.

1.The desi version of a healthy soup

2.The Kerala Style Aviyal

Usage Instructions

  1. Do not heat an empty kalchatti
  2. Kalchatti is suitable only for cooking gravy based food in. Do not fry or cook dry items in it
  3. Start using a new kalchatti by beginning to heat the vegetables/gravy inside over a low flame and then move to medium flame. Cook on low flame for the first few times with a new kalchatti.
  4. Kalchatti is a slow cooking medium. You can turn off the flame about 3-4 minutes before cooking is finished, as the food will continue to slow cook inside this traditional cooking vessel.
  5. This is a vessel that can be used every day. The quality of cooking and taste of food will improve as your stone vessel ages.
  6. Since it is carved out of stone, the kalchatti tends to be fragile, heavy and thick. This is one of the reasons for the superior cooking quality. So, please do not drop it, it will crack or break.

Cleaning instructions

In case of doubt, contact us

  • If you have any questions or you are in doubt about how to use a kalchatti, please do not hesitate to contact us. You may email us at <contactus@biobasics.org> or call us at <+91-979051500>
  • Register with Bio Basics to stay updated about news, events, new products, etc. related to organic products, safe food and health

Parting words

We hope you will introduce the “endangered” Kalchatti into your lives and enjoy the healthy slow cooking possibility that it offers.

These stone cooking vessels could outlast us and be passed down to our children. Let us start building a culture of buying or making and using objects which will be used lovingly during our lifetime and then passed on to our children rather than use cheap, toxic, use-and-throw objects.

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