Traditional Indian Cookware And How To Care For It

Have you got a piece of cookware you cherish? Maybe it’s an old bronze number or a mortar and pestle that your grandmother used to use. Indian kitchens are full of legacies hidden in the oddest of places and our cookware is just another facet of our rich culinary history. And no, we’re not talking about that scratched-up Teflon pan your mum decided to give you instead of throwing out (although that has a story of its own), we’re talking about the old-school materials that were built to last.

The only problem with these more unusual materials is that they require special care to maintain and sometimes though it’s tempting to go at them with a sponge and dish soap, it could result in irreversible damage. Here’s a quick lowdown on how to manage the more ‘special’ members of your kitchen cupboard.

Cast Iron

  • After using the pan, scrape out any food stuck to it by adding a few tablespoons of salt and rubbing vigorously. If that isn’t enough, scrape with a wood or plastic spatula, never metal.
  • If it’s an extreme case a mild dish soap, diluted with water can be used, but you may need to re-season if it’s exposed to soap for too long. 
  • Pat down the pan to dry and then place it on a hot stove to really remove all moisture. 
  • Dab some oil over the inside and store till next time.


  • Avoid any abrasive powder detergents, only use a milk liquid. 
  • Rinse with water and use a soft sponge to clean. 
  • Bronze is more reactive to temperatures, so don’t add cold water to a hot pan and vice versa. 
  • For the really tough stains mix 1 teaspoon of salt in ½ cup of white vinegar and some flour, rub down the inside of the pan, leave for 20-30 minutes, and then sponge off before rinsing. 
  • Use a small ball of tamarind to work across the surface of the cookware after you sprinkle some salt on it.
  • Rinse and pat dry before storing.


  • This is a needy material and soapstone can take up to 4 or 5 days to season thoroughly, so be sure to set aside some time to do it right. 
  • Always clean soapstone at room temperature otherwise it could lead to cracks. 
  • First, rinse and remove any food debris. 
  • Fill it with water an place it on the stovetop to detach the particles which will then float to the top. Let it cool and rinse again. 
  • Sponge or wipe with a soft cloth and then leave it out in the sun to dry naturally. 
  • Do not use any type of detergents on soapstone as it’s porous and will absorb and chemicals making future food toxic. 

Clay Pots

  • Usually, clay is naturally non-stick so it’s relatively easy to clean. 
  • Just rinse with water and use a sponge to scrub it down. 
  • Do not use any cleaning agents as clay is porous and the chemicals will be absorbed in by the cookware.
  • Once the primary rinse is done, put it on the stove with water, a slice of lemon and a pinch of baking soda. Bring the water to boil.
  • Let it cool, rinse once again and pat dry.
  • Place it on stove or sun dry to remove any excess moisture.