In North Tamil Nadu, soapstone has been used for centuries to create carvings and figures, and now, our artisans use the same techniques to create these beautiful cooking implements. Not to be confused with stoneware, which is a kind of clay fired at high temperature, these soapstone pots, or Makal Chatti, are actually handcrafted from a single block of natural, non-toxic soap stone which allows them to withstand high temperatures and keep the food hot for a very long time. The beautiful stone also makes for a stunning and exotic presentation.
It is very important to properly cure a soapstone following the instructions carefully. If not properly cured, the stone may crack during use. See the tab on curing for instructions..
How we measure
In their natural state, they are light in color, however they need to be cured before its first use which will cause it to turn a darker shade of grey, but still maintain their beautiful stone pattern resembling granite.
Pots can vary in color and hue from each other depending to the exact composition of the minerals in the stone therefore making each piece unique.
As with most handmade products by artisans around the world, the pieces may have slight imperfections in the form or finish of the materials, however, these imperfection do not compromise the aesthetics or functionality of the pieces and are considered normal and to be expected.
Soapstone pots can be used in the oven, stovetop or grill, and can go directly to the table for a sophisticated presentation. The pieces can be used directly on a gas or electric range, however, it is recommended to use a heat diffuser on electric ranges. The heat diffuser (which can be used with gas stove as well) has the added benefit of distributing the heat slowly to prevent foods from burning. The pots can also be used on induction cooktops with the use of an induction cookware interface disk.
The pots must not be submitted to drastic changes in temperature and should be allowed to adjust slowly to heat, letting them slowly heat up until they are hot, either on the stove or in the oven. Likewise, you should also allow the pieces to adjust to room temperature before washing or storing them, and never sit a hot pot on a cold surface such as granite or tile.
The pots retain heat for a long period of time, so be careful in handling a hot pot. Because of the copper handles, the pots cannot be used in microwave ovens.
For cleaning, avoid using the dishwasher, hand washing is recommended. After each use, fill with warm, soapy water, allowing to soak briefly if heavily soiled, then scrubbing lightly with a sponge or soft cloth. It is a good idea to reapply some oil before storing the pot.
Do not use metal or abrasive pads as they may scratch the surface and avoid strongly scented soaps which can flavor the pot. Use wooden utensils with the pieces as metal utensils can scratch and damage the inside.
Before an Indian Soapstone Pot can be used for cooking the first time; it should be “cured”. The curing process not only seals the pores of the stone, but it also further hardens the soapstone and makes it last longer. It also makes the pot more resistant to sticking. Since it the color becomes more intense and a darker shade of grey, some people feel they are even more beautiful after the curing process.
To begin the process, rinse the pot well under running water to remove any dirt left over from the manufacturing or shipping process, and let completely dry.
After the pot is completely dry, coat the pot both inside and out with a generous amount of castor oil. Then sprinkle tumeric powder on the entire surface and make sure to rub the powder evenly over the entire pot, both inside and out. You might want to use protective gloves to make sure not to stain you skin or nails. Place the pot in cool dry place and let it rest overnight.
The following day, wash the pot with plain hot water and repeat the process for fours (4) days in a row. You will be tempted to use your beautiful pot, but finish the process to ensure it does not break.
On the fifth day, dry the pot and fill it with hot rice stock water, or kanji vellam (the water left over from cooking rice). Place the pot in cool dry place and again let it rest overnight. The following day, wash the pot with plain hot water and repeat the process for three (3) days in a row.
On the eight (8) day, fill the pot with plain water and bring it slowly to a boil, after which you can rinse it well under running water, and begin enjoying your Indian Soapstone Pot.
Urad Dal Curry
A healthy and protein rich dal variety cooked in a traditional soapstone pot to perfection. Enjoy this dal with rice or Indian flat bread variety.