I’m seeing many holiday gift idea blog posts around the blogging community. I share my ideas about kitchen tools and gadgets in my classes, why not share some here?
If you’ve read my post on the useful kitchen appliances for the Indian-American kitchen, and you feel that your giftee already has everything known to foodies that come through kitchen stores, this post is for you! Or if you are of Indian-American origin and you need a gift idea for that special “auntie” family friend who loves to cook, or your “Baa” or “Saasoo” (grandmother or mother-in-law), then this list is for YOU!
1) Ebelskiver Pan: $40
Why on earth would this be useful for Indian cooking?? The answer is simple, though the recipe for what goes in it is not. This little pan with indentations in it that look more useful for deviled eggs is a perfect stovetop pan for idlis. If your giftee is into Indian cooking and wants to learn more, this pan is for him or her. With it, give a small tin of saambhaar masala (can be found at Indian stores) and a recipe for idli. Tell your loved one that idli batter can be store-bought too (also at the Indian grocer) in case he or she wants to try it that way first.
2) Mini spatulas: $18
Why are these so useful and why don’t most cooks own one? These are handy for scraping out that last bit of ginger paste out of the grinder or that cleverly hidden glop of green chutney under the blender blades. Those Indian aunties love to use their digits to get it all out, but I for one, prefer these little spats.
3) Mini Pastry brush, made of silicone preferably: $3-5
The miniature ones are great for spreading ghee or butter on those piping hot chappattis. Or, we Gujus love our theplaas and parathas, which are made by brushing oil on either side while cooking over high heat in a skillet. Growing up, I used an ice tea spoon for this, and inevitably, the spoon would pour out too much oil on the flatbread. The pastry brush of course would be handy for all your baking needs too (brushing the tops of savory pot pies with egg white or making glistening edible baubles with fruit brushed in egg white…OK there’s the little Martha in me coming out again…)
4) Splatter guard: $40
I have one of these but don’t use it often. When implementing the “tadka” or “tarka“ technique of frying whole spices in hot oil, splatter can occur, especially if you add fresh ingredients like garlic or curry leaves to the hot oil. Splatter lids are great for those cooks unaccustomed to using this technique. They’re also great for the dish you make that requires some part of the cooking time lidded or partially lidded since splatter lids have tiny tiny holes for steam to escape.
5) ScanPan: $50-100
This is the brand of nonstick skillet I use. And Indian cooking especially the vegetable curries are perfect for cooking in these types of pans. Le Creuset French pots are preferable for longer cooking curries where the high heat “tadka” is not a part of the recipe. (Oil should typically not be heated to such high temperatures in Le Creuset cookware, so I use mine for soups, braises, and curries with gravy).
My mom brings be one of these pots every year or so, because she swears by them for chaa (chai is the more universal term for this steaming hot Indian milky sweet tea). Even though I have 2 chaa pots, she still brings her own sometimes.
And when she travels.
And when she goes camping….
But she’s got a point: it’s hard to find a nice small size saucepan that you can pour easily from. (The way we make chaa is by boiling milk and water with tea and spices then straining all through a sieve directly into a teacup). If you use a stainless steel pot which sometimes I do, you just have to scrape the milk solids from the pan when cleaning, whereas in a nonstick the cleanup is a tad easier. P.S. this is what happens if you use a spoutless saucepan:
7) And that brings me to the ultimate gift for the chai lover: a Starbucks gift card!!
Put a basket or box together of the following items and you’ll have a great gift:
- a copy of a chai recipe like this one at Rabbit Food Rocks or one published at Food52 (though in the latter milk is added later which Indians usually don’t do–we boil it all together)
- a ginger Microplane grater (not necessary if giftee already owns a Microplane, but still nice to have)
- a mortar pestle for grinding the masala blend (or a packet of store-bought chai masala at Indian grocers)
- the perfect saucepan (or you could leave this one out)
- the perfect sieve (one small enough to fit over a teacup) like this one but maybe even smaller
- the perfect tea: PG tips is one many Indians use. And you can order this online or purchase at an Indian store. My mom makes THE BEST CHAI. She uses a blend of 4 tea leaves, and she still hasn’t given me the secret combination. I know that Wagh Bakri tea is one of the 4 leaves, but that doesn’t’ help you or I very much. When she finally discloses it to me, I promise to share….in time.
Happy Holidays and Happy Cooking!!