Indian Tawa: The Cooking Pan For Everyone
The best way to keep your cast iron tawa for life is to season it well before you start cooking rotis, paranthas on it. A good quality tawa, that has a heavy bottom, can also be used to cook dishes such as tawa-chicken and rava fish-fry
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An Indian Tawa is a very shallow pan that is generally used for cooking rotis, parathas, chapatis, dosas and other Indian flatbreads. It is a very common cooking tool in Indian kitchens. An Indian Tawa can also be used for frying fish and meats. These tawas are almost flat, with a slightly concave surface. These are generally made from cast iron, and as a result, tend to be a little heavy, but the best feature of this tawas is that they are very sturdy and can last for decades!
There are Indian tawas that are made of sheet iron, steel or even aluminum. These are not as heavy and could also be of the non-stick type. However, these do not produce results as good as cast iron tawas, which naturally happen to be the traditional choice in Indian homes. Also, in recent times, more and more mothers have been growing concerned about the adverse effects that non-stick coating on vessels can have on the family’s health. Hence, many opt for cast iron utensils.
A tawa in Indian culture is a versatile cooking pan. It can be used to cook various Indian flatbread dishes such as chapati and paratha, the main staple food across millions of homes. The tawa is also used to make a number of unique dishes that are a part of Indian cooking such as tawa-chicken or fish rava fry.
A cast-iron tawa is made by melting either pure iron or scrap iron and pouring into a sand cast to get the required shape. Pure iron or cast iron usage depends on the community that makes the tawa. When buying an Indian tawa you need to check for the diameter, material of the handle, and weight. Cast iron pans tend to be a little heavy. They have varying diameters to suit everyone’s requirements. It is best to have a pan with heat resistant handles so that you can easily move the pan around without burning yourself.
Table of Contents
How to Season a New Indian Tawa?
A brand new cast iron tawa needs to be seasoned before first use to give the best possible results. Seasoning helps you to get food off the tawa easily and also enhances the flavor of the food cooked on top of it. This also helps preserve the tawa for a long time. Did you know that traditional cast iron tawas are used for decades in India? You buy it once when setting up your first home, and chance are you will continue to have the same tawa even at the time of the wedding of your kids! That’s how sturdy a good quality Indian tawa can be.
Step 1: Prepare the tawa
Rinse the tawa with warm water and soap. Gently scrub the tawa with a steel scrubber to get rid of any rust or dirt. Do not let water stay on it for too long after washing, dry it off with a dry cloth or let it air dry.
Step 2: How to use oil?
Pour 2 teaspoons of oil on the tawa and add about 2 teaspoons of salt to it. Spread the mix all over the tawa and leave for one day.
Step 3: Second round of scrubbing
After one day, scrub the tawa once again and get rid of any dirt or dust. Rinse well.
Step 4: Using starch water
Soak the tawa in starch water. You can use rice cooked water or even rice washed water. You need to leave the tawa in this starch water for about 2 days. After two days, change the starch water and let the tawa sit in it for another few hours.
Step 5: Tempering on the tawa
Wash the tawa again. Heat it up, add about 2 teaspoons of oil, add half a teaspoon of mustard seeds and a quarter teaspoon of urad dal and let them splutter. Then add about 1-2 tablespoons of chopped onion and fry until golden brown. Remove the mix and wipe the tawa clean.
This is how you can season your new tawa. If you try making dosas with a freshly seasoned tawa, chances are the first couple of them will stick to the pan but they will later come off without any trouble. You can use this process to season a brand new tawa or even season a tawa that hasn’t been used for a long time.
For day-to-day cleaning of a cast iron tawa, you can simply wash it with some warm water and soap. Clean it up properly, preferably with a steel scrubber to get rid of any bits of roti or dosa stuck to it. Remember to not let water stay on the tawa for too long. Wipe the tawa off with a dry cloth or let it dry in the sun after washing. Every once in a while rub tamarind or some lemon juice all over the tawa, leave for an hour and wash with warm water.
Pro Tip: To get nice golden brown dosas with an Indian tawa and to make sure they don’t stick to the cooking pan, use half an onion to grease the pan. Simply dip the cut end of half an onion in oil and grease the frying pan with it.
Popular Utensils Used in Indian Cooking:
Chakla (Flat surface on which chapattis are rolled)
Chakla is a rolling board. It is usually made of marble, some may even use a lighter one made with a block of wood. It used to roll out roti, chapati or parantha dough when you don’t have a counter-top to work with or if you prefer to not use the counter-top. You can either sit down on the floor with the chakla to roll out dough or you can stand and place it on the counter and work with it. It can be made of marble, granite or even wood, preferably bamboo wood.
Belan (Indian Rolling pin)
Belan is basically the Indian rolling pin. It is generally about 10 inches long or more. The belan used in most Indian homes is made of wood. These tend to be narrower than their typical western counter-parts.
Chimta (Indian tongs)
Chimta is used to hold and turn hot chapatis while cooking. These are generally referred to as tongs in English. Although there are traditionally made of iron, most chimtas now are made of steel. They also tend to have heat resistant plastic grips to protect you from burns. These chimtas can also be used to hold your rotis or chapatis over an open flame for a more charred flavor and to make the chapatis balloon with hot air.
Hamam Dasta (Mortar and Pestle)
A Hamam Dasta (mortar and pestle) is basically a mortar and pestle. It can be a very integral part of an Indian kitchen. It is used to roughly grind herbs and spices that you can use in your curries and marinades. These are generally made of marble or granite but stainless steel or ceramic ones are more popular these days.
Adding tadka or tempering to any Indian dish adds a whole new level of flavor. To get the perfect tadka, a good tadka pan goes a long way. A tadka pan is basically a small bowl-sized pan that can quickly heat up the herbs and spices used to temper dals – a staple in an Indian kitchen. It also makes pouring the contents easier. It can be made of stainless steel or hard-anodized aluminum.
The best dal dishes add tadka to add flavor and aroma. A good tadka pan helps you achieve this the perfect dal.
Pauni ( Perforated flat spoon)
A Pauni is a perforated, almost flat spoon that is used for frying or deep frying. It can be used to hold the food article down in the oil or to pick the food article out of the oil while draining excess oil.
Mahi Tawa is a shallow tawa generally used for shallow frying meats, fish and chicken dishes that are rich in protein. It is generally made of copper with tin coating inside.
Advantages of Cast Iron Tawa:
- Adds iron to your food
- Can last for several years
- Less expensive
- Can be used on the stove and also in ovens
- It can stay hot longer duration.
FAQ’s for Indian Tawa
Are cast iron tawas bad for health?
While cast-iron tawas require a little more care, they are a little better for your health as compared to stainless steel cooking pans with non-stick coating. Some even believe that iron tawas help add more iron to the food cooked in them.
Here are some other food articles that can boost the family’s overall health-
What are some of the spices essential for Indian cooking?
Some essential spices are-
- Garam Masala
Find out here which is the tastiest garam masala for Indian cooking,
- Green Cardamom
- Black Cardamom
- Red Chili
- Black Peppercorns
Click here to know more about essential Indian spices.
Can you leave food in cast iron overnight?
Yes, you can leave food in a cast iron utensil overnight. However, it not advisable to do so with any utensil since it will become a breeding ground for bacteria after a period of about 4 hours.
Can tawas be used for frying anything?
Indian tawas are great for shallow frying, especially if you plan on shallow frying fish or meat. It obviously cannot be used for deep-frying since it is not deep enough for such methods of cooking.
Indian tawas are best when made of cast iron. They do, however, require a lot of maintenance. There are a number of lighter non-stick tawas available that take a lot less work. However, the toxicity of the non-stick coating has been a growing concern over the years. A good cast iron tawa will last for several years and will add to the taste of the food you make in one.