Congrats on your journey to imbibe traditional wisdom to your home. Zishta is glad to be a part of this journey and support you with authentic traditional knowledge gathered through our journeys, discussions with artisans, local communities and scientific information.
Zishta in collaboration with artisans of Tamilnadu bring to you most authentic and traditional Soapstone vessels (Kalchatti) that are everlasting. These are made using the most traditional technique honed over centuries by our artisans.
What is Soapstone (Kalchatti)
Geologically, soapstone or steatite, is a naturally occurring metamorphic rock. In India, it has been in use for 1000s of years for carving purposes & to make cooking pots.
What are the benefits of cooking in Soapstone / Kalchatti?
- Health benefits: They release calcium & magnesium to food which are essential minerals for our body. It retains 98% nutrients of the food cooked in it.
- Saving of fuel & cooking time: Kalchatti cooks food in 15% lesser time than modern cookware. It continues to cook for 5 minutes after the stove is switched off. It saves fuel as well as saves time of cooking.
- Never to re-heat food: The vessel keeps food warm for 2-3 hours after cooking.
- Taste & aroma: The taste & aroma of the food is enhanced & the difference is quite visible.
- Acidic food: One of the best vessels to cook acidic food, resistant to acids & alkalis.
- They are known to kill harmful germs.
- Soapstone heats & cooks food evenly.
- Safe: They are natural, from the earth, with no harmful chemicals.
- Food cooked in it does not get spoilt for the entire day. Hence refrigeration is not required.
What can be cooked in Soapstone / Kalchatti
The best part of soapstone vessel is that one can cook any type of food in it.
- Indian delicacies like mor kuzhambu (kadi), vatha kuzhambu, regular sambhar, avial, keerai masiyal, molakootu, appam stew, tomato pappu, gothsu, rasam, palak paneer, paneer butter masala, rajma masala, dal makhani, dal tadka, chicken, fish etc. - name the dish and it can be cooked in soapstone.
- Soapstone cooking vessel can also be used to make rice, biryani & other varieties of flavoured rice.
What can be stored in Soapstone containers?
- It is the best for setting thick curd. Curd sets in 5-6 hours. Pour milk that is warmer and add a spoon of curd.
- Tamarind, salt and pickle are traditionally stored in Soapstone containers.
- Soapstone containers can also be used as hot case to store food after cooking to keep them warm.
How to season a kalchatti for cooking?
Unlike clay, they are not baked and needs to be seasoned before using it. The treatment process takes around 8-10 days. During this period, the vessel is slowly exposed to heat.
- Step 1: Mix castor oil and turmeric, apply all around the kalchatti, inside and outside, and leave it aside for 4-5 days.
- Step 2: Wash the vessel on day 5 and fill it with rice washed starch water. Repeat this process for 4 days. Throw the water every morning and fill it with fresh rice washed starch water.
Arrowroot powder / rice / maida powder can be used as an alternate.
- Step 3: On day 9, fill the vessel with rice washed starch water and heat it in the stove in low flame. Switch off the gas once the water boils. Repeat this process for 4 days.
How to maintain a soapstone vessel?
- One can use any dish washing liquid or soap to clean it.
- Do not use steel scrubbers as it will leave scratch marks.
- It is fine to leave it in the sink overnight. Do not place other vessels on top of it to avoid breakage or cracks.
- It is natural for the vessel to become greyish black.
- Yes it would break if dropped & care needs to be taken.
- To remove residual smell of food cooked in it, fill the vessel with boiling water and leave it aside.
- It is not recommended to use dishwasher.
- It can be refrigerated.
Caution in using Kalchatti
- Do not do seasoning / tadka directly in the vessel in the initial days of cooking, for around 15-20 uses. Post this, direct seasoning / tadka/ or onion frying can be done.
- For the first 15-20 uses always make sure the vessel has liquid in it before placing on the stove and cooking is done only in low or medium flame and not in high flame.
- After 15-20 uses, you can do direct tadka or onion frying can be done. Please make sure the stone is never heated up empty on gas.
- It would break if dropped.
- Do not leave other vessels on top of it either in the sink or when storing it. It may develop hairline crack.
- Do not wash it when hot. Allow the vessel to cool down.
- Preferably use wooden ladle, or if using other ladles, be cautious with the usage.
- Life of the vessel purely depends on the care that is taken. It can last for decades, if good care is taken.
Some frequently asked questions
We received a seasoned Kalchatti. Should we still season it?
You should pour starch water, boil in low flame and repeat the process for 3 days before cooking. This helps the vessel to get used to the heat of your stove.
Why is the bottom of the new seasoned kalchatti black and sticky?
This is because it has been seasoned with castor oil and heated in wood fire. The stickiness would go away after a couple of washes.
My kalchatti turned dark / black. Why?
With usage, it becomes darker grey. This is natural.
Should we season the Soapstone Jar?
Soapstone jars are for storage purposes and to set curd. Since they would not be kept on the stove, seasoning is not required.
Can the soapstone jar with curd be refrigerated?
Yes it can be kept in the fridge.
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