BENGALURU: If homes turned into makeshift offices, kitchens became the epicentre of health and wellness as everyone cooked up a storm of immunityboosting drinks and dishes. As we prepare ourselves for a future of uncertainties, many people are looking at the past to get a better handle on their health. Stores selling traditional cookware made of brass, bronze, iron, cast iron, clay and soapstone are reporting an increased demand in these times. According to Meera Ramakrishnan, cofounder, Zishta, the demand has doubled. Ramakrishnan, along with co-founders Varishta Sampath and Archish Mathe Madhavan, opened the first outlet in Bengaluru in 2017. This year, they also expanded their physical store presence to Chennai.
“The pandemic gave everyone time to pause and make a lifestyle change,” says Ramakrishnan. This transformation isn’t just limited to the food we eat but how we make it as well. And that’s where traditional cookware shines. “Most of the modern- day vessels are chemically treated. Traditional vessels, like those made with clay and soapstone, do not have chemical seasoning and also come with a host of benefits,” says Kayal Vizhi R, who runs Essential Traditions by Kayal with Sriram N and Ramkumar R. Lakshmi K, who uses such cookware often, also explains how teflon pots and pans often leach chemicals into the food, which would make steel a better alternative, since it doesn’t react with the food.
“Traditional cookware is a level higher, it imparts good minerals instead,” says the yoga teacher and Forex trader. Saritha Hegde, founder of not just hot, knew she wanted to use nothing other than her collection of traditional cookware to make sauces and more for her customers. So far, Hegde has used her collection to make a variety of dishes like omelettes, sandwiches, grilled meat, Thai curry, kimchi, etc. “I do all my cooking in clay pots or a cast iron pan. I don’t even have a microwave.
Cast iron keeps the food piping hot for much longer so I don’t even have to reheat anything and lose out on nutrients,” she explains. Hegde now plans to put out a video about using such cookware, where one can begin and how to maintain them. “Earlier, people wouldn’t even notice something like the vessels being used. But after the pandemic, many ask me about it,” she says.
But how does traditional cookware fit into a modern kitchen? Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, say most users. Poonam Jethwani started using cast iron vessels for more than just dosaes or rotis a year ago. Now, she serves her food straight out of a cast iron skillet and says, “The important thing about cooking with cast iron is its versatility. It can be used with anything - open flames on gas or ovens. It adds iron to our food. It’s a reminder of healthy food and that, naturally, looks great too.”