Modern Kitchens for Traditional Cooking

Some thinking and planning before it is built can go a long way in making your kitchen more user friendly,

writes Radha Prathi.

The fast track life in cities has not only ushered instant food varieties but has also been steadily ushering in the era of readymade kitchens. The architects’ or the builders’ responsibility ends when they provide the four walls of the kitchen with electricity and water supply, the rest of the features can be bought from the hundreds of showrooms showcasing kitchen accessories and fit with the respective company’s help. Kitchen cupboards, cooking platforms, sinks, chimneys, just about every feature of a kitchen is available for a price. They are sleek, stylish, sturdy and they certainly make a statement about the owners of the home. More and more people who can afford these conveniences do not hesitate to invest in these modern kitchens.
Yet the zealous women and the cooks who work in these kitchens find that the ultra modern amenities falling short of certain mandatory  aspects necessary for traditional and even everyday cooking in the Indian style. All the electronic gadgets in the world cannot perform certain requisite functions which are an integral part of Indian cooking. Similarly the fancy yet customised storage places suddenly appear very inadequate and inappropriate for certain kitchen items.
If one is a little more cautious and thoughtful one can incorporate a few handy components while the kitchen is in the making. For instance a small thin slab of unpolished granite stone in a geometrical shape of your choice with hewn edges can be fixed alongside the sink on the cooking platform to facilitate breaking coconuts. The surface of the same stone can be used for pounding and disintegrating jaggery, pounding a couple of peppers or pulverising ginger, green chillies, grating a tiny slice of vegetable among other things.
It will help to have a double sink in your kitchen preferably at two different spots to help you go through the chores with a sense of cleanliness. One sink could be reserved for washing up dishes while the other could be used for washing vegetables, collecting tap water for cooking or washing one’s hands during the process of cooking. This sink could also be used for draining water from cooked food by placing the other vessel in the sink. Transferring of liquids like oils, juices, soups and so forth could also be carried on in this second sink, thereby preventing other portions of the kitchen from getting stained or wet. The orthodox lot can use this sink to clean their sacred articles in this sink.
Even if your kitchen has the privilege of an electric chimney make sure you let in plenty of light and air into the kitchen by providing at least two windows. Direct sunlight coming in through the window can help to keep your kitchen clean, odourless and insect free to some extent and the sunshine can be utilised to dry ingredients when the kitchen is not in use.
When installing cupboards for the kitchen make sure that at least two of the cupboards have doors made of closely knit mesh or net to help you store potatoes, onions, yams, bananas and vegetables which cannot be refrigerated. Milk set for turning into curds, fresh curds and idli batter can be stocked in these cupboards to help it to ferment without attracting flies. Pickles, honey, ghee and such other items can be placed in these cupboards leaving you carefree about the longevity of these items. Kitchen cloth necessary for sieving or storing can be placed in these cupboards so that they do not acquire an obnoxious odour.
Another cupboard in the kitchen with a mesh door at a higher level can be allocated to store all the utensils and containers that you do not require on an everyday basis. Circulation of air in the cupboard will prevent the articles from developing a moldy smell and they will be ready to use after a wash whenever you need them.
Fixing a hook under one of the over hanging cupboards over the platform will come in handy  if at all you decide to make your own paneer or want to hang up a fruit or vegetable in a netted bag to help it ripen quickly. When not in use the hook can be used to improve the décor of the kitchen by putting up a wind chime or fancy hanger or a miniature lantern.
It will be helpful if you reserve some comfortable space beneath the cooking platform to keep your grinder or home mill so that it can remain out of sight when not in use and can be pulled out when needed.
If you integrate some of these ideas in your contemporary kitchen not only will  you be in a position to savour dishes turned out without compromising  on  the some subtle aspects of procedure you will also be protecting your walls and flooring from possible damage that could be incurred due to pounding. Moreover if you happen to be living in a block of flats, you will be earning brownie points for being a fairly quiet neighbour who does not insist on making his presence obvious by making noises in the kitchen.

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