I’ll take the Calphalon Indian Wok

When my wife and I were trying to decide on new pots and pans last year, it was kind of hard to pick the right set. Not only were we confused by the all-clad versus the myriad types of calphalon sets, we wanted to get some nice “crockery” that would be good for cooking Indian food. Outside of the handy prestige pressure-cooker that I am slowly learning how to use, we couldn’t find any real options for fancy-shmancy cooking pots-and-pans specifically for Indian food. So imagine my surprise when I was perusing the most recent Williams-Sonoma catalog and found a whole section dedicated to Indian spices, Indian food-specific pots and pans, and Williams-Sonoma Kitchen recipes for a variety of different indian food items, including, samosas, chapatis, and even kheer (Indian rice pudding). Sure, my mom would kill me if she knew I entertained the notion of buying a 9 ounce, $39 set of spices, or a $13 dollar simmer sauce, but I appreciate that Le Creuset is selling a tava griddle, and that Cuisinart is uping the ante in the pressure cooker game. I must admit though, I am a bit confused by the Calphalon One Indian Wok (Wok, India?). My initial thought was that maybe it would be perfect for cooking tasty Indian-Chinese food like my favorite gobi manchurian, but the description in the catalog cleared it up:

“Based on the karahi, the traditional Indian wok commonly used for simmering curries and stews, stir-frying and deep-frying, this infused-anodized wok is ideal for recreating the favorite dishes you enjoy at Indian restaurants. Its interior sears and browns perfectly and develops the rich caramelized flavor essential for creating delicious pan sauces. Adapted from the karahi’s customary round bottom, this wok’s flat bottom makes it easy to use on Western stoves. Two beautifully shaped loop handles – inspired by graceful scrollwork on Indian architecture – allow you to carry the oven-safe pan to the table for serving in authentic Indian style.” (link)

Look at those loop handles, clearly inspired by the graceful scrollwork on Indian architecture. I can hardly control myself. And who among us knew that serving desi khana in a Calphalon-One branded Indian-Wok at the table was authentic Indian style? I for one had no idea. Sarcasm aside, I do think it is pretty cool that some of the high-end cookware companies are starting to make Indian items, although I doubt desi-America is the target audience. As appealing as the Williams-Sonoma catalog offerings are, I don’t know that I will be purchasing this cookware anytime soon, but I would love to know what those of you who have some of these products think of them. I do however plan on trying the samosa recipe soon and will definitely report back. If any of you happen to try any of the recipes, please relay your experiences in the comments section.

19 thoughts on “I’ll take the Calphalon Indian Wok

  1. I must admit though, I am a bit confused by the Calphalon One Indian Wok (Wok, India?).

    Woks do exist in Kerala and they’re called “Cheena Chattis” (i.e. Chinese pots). They’re a part of the legacy of Chinese trade with Kerala. You can’t make an appam without it.

  2. Thanks for your note about “Cheena chatti”. My wife always uses that phrase, and it puzzled me, as my parents used the word “baanali”, not “Cheena chatti”. The wok is used for several dishes in Tamil Nadu, e.g., upma.

  3. We use the Le Creuset wok (in flame!) to cook all our favorite desi dishes and it works like magic! Bindhi, long beans and baingan cook especially nicely. Much to our surprise, the wok turns out to be most frequently used. Check it out.

  4. Because of the shape, a wok cooks foods less evenly than a flat bottomed frying pan.

  5. I didn’t know cheena chetti meant Chinese pot! Wow, so much makes sense now … my entire childhood in fact. :) OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration.

  6. We use the Le Creuset wok (in flame!) to cook all our favorite desi dishes and it works like magic! Bindhi, long beans and baingan cook especially nicely.

    ..but..does’nt the bindhi become useless after you cook it in a non-stick pan?? :)

  7. I loved my wok – one pot to cook everything. Plm was that the nonstick coating started to flake and I had to get rid of it.

    My challenge is finding a right-sized wok with a lid. So, for vagaar/tharka, I need to cover. (We’ve all seen yellow countertops, backsplashes and stoves at desi homes!!)

    Any suggestions?

    That Williams Sonoma karahi is quite sexy, but need that lid. :-\

  8. my mom uses a kadhai all the time for cooking up my favorite fried treats, and while i lust after calaphalon cookware, i don’t think the foods that i would cook in it (bhindi, those tiny samosas – guilty pleasure, etc) would benefit from it’s surface. i’ll probably just steal one of my mom’s from india (still strong after 20 years!) or pick up a cheap one from a desi stores.

    Sorry to go off-topic, but while we’re on the subject does anyone here read any desi cooking blogs? I love Hooked on Heat, but am longing for more.

  9. I am worried. I think you had better be careful with that pressure cooker that you mention becoming so adept with. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I suggest you check out this recent post on Ultrabrown.

    20-minute channa dal is just not worth it, I tell you!

  10. Very timely for me. I am looking for a nice flat bottomed dosa/roti pan that has no side/lip or a minimal one. The ones I see in desi stores are cast iron or blue steel. We are (or rather the domestic boss is) looking for something lined with stainless steel and a conductive base made of aluminum or copper. There are imported crepe pans and flambe pans with copper bottoms that are hugely expensive. Some of them are also tin lined which renders them unsuitable for our cooking because tin has a tendency to melt and bubble up at high temps. This is why non-stick pans are also out. Are there desi made stainless steel lined Cu/Al bottomed pans that are also not extremely expensive?

  11. My wife and I are both foodies and own a pretty decent collection of cookware, but cook desi food in a calphalon karahi? No way!

    Karahi and tawa are two things best left untampered by diasporic improvements. These two utensils are engineering marvels.

    We have karahi and tawas in regular sizes as well as huge party sizes that you see only in restaurants. We also have the “puja” version of the restaurant size tawa and karahi, meaning they have never been used for cooking meat. Our entire collection of tawas and karahis consumes a lot of storage space, but since we don’t ski, snowmobile, or ride dirt bikes – being pucca desis – we have enough room to store our vast culinary assets.

  12. My wife and I have a collection of Lodge Cast iron pans ( including a tawa ). We paid about $15 and have never been happier with the quality of dosas and flat breads. With a little care these things are virtually indesctructable.

  13. They’re a part of the legacy of Chinese trade with Kerala. You can’t make an appam without it.

    the link has mostly pictures of “Paal appam” (milk appam)… i’ve never heard of a cheena chatti … but i do have a paal appam pathram; it’s a very small version of the wok; you can’t really cook anything in it except for 1 paal appam at a time …

    but as any hard core mallu knows there are several kinds of appams … plain appam, paal appam, unni appam, ney appam, vattay appam, ela appam, kumbul appam ….

  14. My family doesn’t cook anything Indian in Calphalon except for stir fries (South Indian curries) and that, too, in wide flat frying pans.

    I’ll get my tolerably-expensive alyoominyum rasam/sambar yenams straight from the Mad Ras, thanks.

  15. Where can I get a good kadai in New York? I’m not too found of all-aluminum ones. And I’ve seen the aluminum ones with the copper bottoms and they are for serving only (my didi said), and the iron ones at Patel Brothers look really old. Any advice?

  16. I use a Calphalon nonstick skillet for cooking all types of “dry” sabji (like tindora, bhindi, etc) and for saucy items like paneer tikka masala and spaghetti sauce. It’s like a frying pan but with a wide flat bottom that means it cooks evenly and you can stir the food easily.

    Today I made two sabjis in it– cabbage and asparagus. Everything cooked fast and cleaned up quick. Oh and I love my prestige pressure cooker. It’s worth living dangerously.

  17. Where can I get a good kadai in New York? I’m not too found of all-aluminum ones. And I’ve seen the aluminum ones with the copper bottoms and they are for serving only (my didi said), and the iron ones at Patel Brothers look really old. Any advice?

    Josie, Look around 28th and Lex, all four corners. I’ve been using my aged pressure cooker for years, with replacement parts, and am not too afraid of it- yet.

  18. I so really require one cheena chatti!! (Calphalon One Indian Wok) though.. it is SO expensive!! :/

    So did you purchase it or a less expensive cheena chatti? If so, could you pleaseee tell me from where?