Kalchatti, The Ancient Soapstone Cookware: A Comprehensive Guide
Image Credit: soapstonecookwareofficial@Instagram

During a visit to a friend based in a small town in Tamil Nadu, I was introduced to something called Kalchatti in their kitchen. My knowledge of stone-based culinary utensils was mostly around sil batta or grinding stone, mortar, and pestle. But kalchatti is a whole range of cookware, including pots, woks, vessels, skillets and so on. I still have the lingering aftertaste of Vattakolumbu trapped somewhere in my memory. I was told that this dish is typically made in kalchatti for the latter's ability to retain the delicacy's freshness for two days. With some more enquiries, I learned that this traditional cookware known as kalchatti is constructed from readily accessible soapstone. With several perks, there is a growing demand for this soapstone cookware. 

The metamorphic rock known as soapstone, also called steatite, is high in talc and magnesium. As its name suggests, soapstone is as solid and hard as a rock with a smooth surface. These days it is widely available online too. 

 ASIN ID - B06XXPWV94   

What to cook in kalchatti?

Kalchatti has exceptional heat retention, much like cast iron, which makes it an excellent option for Indian cuisine. You can use it for indoor and outdoor cooking. It is usable in the oven, on the cooktop, and even on the grill. Additionally, this traditional cookware can be used to prepare practically any food. Cooking rasam, sambar, fish curry, and other vegetable stews are well known. Since the food is cooked at a steady temperature, Kalchatti enhances the flavour of any dish that must be simmered for a prolonged time, such as vattakolumbu, veg curry, etc.

Why and how to season it

Curing kalchatti with oil, Image Source: soapstonecookwareofficial@Instagram

When the cookware is at room temperature, begin the process by giving it a thorough rinse with hot water. Use a fresh, non-abrasive cloth to clean it. Use a generous amount of your favourite cooking oil to grease the cookware's interior and outer sides. After lubricating your cookware, keep it somewhere warm and dry for around 24 hours. After this time, the material should feel practically dry because the stone has absorbed the oil.

You must heat pans, grills, or lids in an oven preheated to 175 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes. Before taking it out of the oven, let it cool thoroughly. Pour room temperature water into jars and pots, then gently heat it. The stove's flame should be gradually raised to a medium-high setting. Before turning off the heat, give the water at least 30 minutes to reach a rolling boil. Empty the vessel once the water has cooled.

 ASIN ID - B0BR7Q465H   

How to clean kalchatti?

Cookware made of soapstone can be hand-washed. To clean it, apply diluted dishwashing soap and a non-abrasive scrub. If charred residue is stuck in the bottom, add some water, boil it for a short while, and then use a spatula to scrape it. Before cleaning, make sure your soapstone cookware has cooled to room temperature. Sudden temperature changes can cause cracking. After using dish soap or detergent, reapply the oil.

Dal cooked in kalchatti, image source: soapstonecookwareofficial@Instagram

How to use kalchatti safely?

To handle hot soapstone cookware, use potholders, and avoid tongs or clamps. Be careful not to beat the cookware's edges against hard surfaces, as this could cause them to break. You run the danger of cracking it if you drop it or whack it too hard with a spoon. Use caution when pouring hot water or oil into cold cookware.


Kalchatti should be gradually and carefully incorporated into regular meals. Use it for boiling during the first month, such as when making rasam, sambar, or vegetables. While cooking, keep the flame low and prevent water from drying out. You can use it for oil-based frying after a month. Never put an empty pot on the fire and add oil. Any exposure to abruptly high temperatures might cause cracking.

Curd storing soapstone pot, Image Source: soapstonecookwareofficial@Instagram

If properly maintained, kalchatti cookware is highly durable and may be handed down through the generations. This makes it one of the most sustainable cookware.