Cast iron cookware

Cast iron cookware

The Hindu Metroplus , Iron clad benefits

Rock tava

The irumbu vadachatti is a vintage kitchen accessory that has always existed and been passed on from one generation to the next, in South Indian kitchens. Over the years, somehow the health advantages took a back seat in this thought process of choosing cooking utensils. With the emergence of newer cooking techniques and tastes, dutch ovens, pans, woks etc have come to occupy space in our kitchen cabinets. Also the ease of cooking in a teflon coated pan,not to mention time saved (which is what is uppermost in all our minds) has clouded judgement when picking up cooking utensils that add to health and well-being ! How often do most of us actually give a thought to our pots and pans contributing to our nutritional requirements ?

But,I come bearing good news. Not only can you have your cookware of choice but it comes with the necessary iron clad benefits. While browsing through stalls at an exhibition,a glossy black skillet caught my eye. Could it be cast iron I wondered … indeed it was ! And even better was the fact that it was made right here in Coimbatore.



Santhosh Leelakrishnan is the man responsible for the ‘Rock tawa’ brand of cast iron cookware. His family have been in the foundry business for many years. While conversing with one of their customers ,Santhosh became aware of the lack of (in his words) “organised cast iron cookware manufacturers”. To make a long story short,after spending half a year in extensive R&D ,Sri Lakshmi Narasimhar Foundries launched their ‘Rock Tawa’ range a year ago, as a value addition to their existing business.

They don’t just stop with the manufacturing process,they go the extra mile and pre-season the cookware for their customers.

What exactly is an organised cast iron manufactured product you may wonder !?! I did too.It means that the products are all made with 70% pig iron which is from the mines and not made from melted scrap which is what goes into some of the ‘cast iron’ available in the market. The company has 6 products for sale at the moment with plans for more in the pipeline. All of these are cast in molds which are made from a mix of sand and clay.The sand is re-used after every process. Only a small quantity of new sand is required and any un-used residue is sent for road laying and other use.

The products are available online through amazon or can be picked up from their office after placing an order.The staff are well trained to answer customer queries.

Cast iron cookware is undoubtedly a valuable addition to any kitchen. Our pattis back then knew a great deal more than what they let on! A well seasoned cast iron vessel requires a minimal amount of oil for cooking.This is because the seasoning process includes adding a coating of oil and heating.When done in the right method the oil acts as a seal against the porous surface. The application of heat also ensures that the oil bonds to the metal.

Precaution must be taken never to touch cast iron when it is hot.After years of using pans with plastic/wood/rubber handles,that does take a bit of getting used to. Santhosh says that he is exploring viable options to make the handle heat resistant.Soaking in water is also best avoided as it will lead to rusting.A little care goes a long way in ensuring the longevity of cast iron utensils.

We made fried eggs for breakfast this morning and it did feel good to put up a dish fortified with iron. It’s important to wash and dry the pan straight away and coat it with oil before storing.The washing up takes little effort, a good scouring powder ,followed by a brisk rub and it’s done.No need for harsh detergents here. My new skillet is perfect for use on the stove top as well as in the oven. For baking desserts or searing delicious ingredients, this is great value for money not to mention a smart buy !

Rock pan and tava aerial with spices


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Precautionary measures for using cast iron cookware

  1. It’s best not to boil water in cast iron
  2. Ensure that the coating of oil does not turn rancid, best to wipe before cooking
  3. After washing the cast iron cookware,brush on the oil and place on heat until it starts smoking.Turn off, let it cool down. Rub off excess oil and store covered in old newspapers.
  4. Do  not use highly acidic ingredients like vinegar and lime while cooking in cast iron.It may strip the natural seasoning.

Advantages of using cast iron cookware

1.It is not coated with harmful chemicals and the seasoning process ensures a fairly non-stick surface (no scrubbing of food residue)

  1. Retains heat for a longer period of time,after cooking
  2. Boosts iron intake

4.Improves with use and is long lasting (does not break or chip off easily)

5.Cheaper than handcrafted cookware

  1. Pre-heating for a couple of minutes on slow heat ensures even heat distribution

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