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Best for cooking Indian curries?

A few weeks on Chowhound, and I'm already cowering in fear of my non-stick cookware.

The skillet and wok situation has been fixed. Just opened the box containing my de Buyer pans from Cost Plus - thanks for that tip.

What's the best alternative to non-stick for preparing Indian curries, or other saucy dishes that require a long, slow, simmer? If I use a non-non-stick saucepan, my concern is that food will stick to the bottom and burn. Am I wrong?


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  1. Stainless steel. Simmering gravy should not stick to the pan, unless you've burnt it.

    1. First, let me say Telfon as itself is very inert and very safe. The question is always about what happened after Teflon get heated up to a high and turn into something else. That should only be a concern for high temperature cooking at all. So I don't think Teflon is a problem for long slow simmer cooking. However, if you have made up your mind, then there are alternatives.

      I cook some Indian dishes, but you are probably know a lot more than I do.

      Based on my experience, many Indian dishes can be acidic, so maybe cast iron is not the best even through I really like cast iron. There is nothing truely bad about it except you may taste some iron in your foods. Stainless steel cookware is good because it is very nonreactive. Hwoever, foods stick to stainless steel more easily, but it may not be a problem for slow cooking and saucy dishes because there will be a lot of liquid around. Almost like constant deglazing. I think both cast iron and stainless steel are excellent choice. I may go for stainless just because it will give you less metal taste and it is easier to take care of.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        I've done a few curries in my cast iron pans and found it difficult to get rid of the cumin flavour left behind. As above, non-stick or stainless are better choices.

        1. re: Pedr0


          Now that you mentioned. Yes. You are absolutely correct. In my case, it was also very difficult to get the turmeric residue off. :) Faint yellow in my next meal. One more reason for nonstick and stainless. Thanks for reminding us.

      2. I use my LC DO 3.5 qt for the indian recipes which is saucy and require long slow simmer. it is not nonstick though. like spinach curry with indian cottage cheese, potato curries, Keema, califlower sabji etc, etc. Also, I use my 3qt AC saucier for those too. I really love the ability of the LC to simmer without a burn for those recipes. I cannot use the bigger LC like 6.75 Wide oval because 3.5 qt can easily produce for 6-8 people of those curries. 6.75 is too just big for this purpose. So for those are the incidents, I appreciate to have a smaller LC a lot and the reason why I have so many LC DOs! I think I can use my LC 3.5 qt buffet casserole, too, if total cooking time is not that long. For Cumin and turmeric stains, no problem with those pans, either LC or AC. very easy to clean. for the heavy stain, just fill the water in the pots for over night and wash normally. For the nonstick recipes, I use my LC skillet with the black enamel, which is now well seasoned. It is not completely non-stick but most of the use, I feel it is now good enough.

        7 Replies
        1. re: hobbybaker

          Sorry ... what are "LC" and "AC"?

          1. re: fadista

            :) Expensive stuffs. :P I so want to answer, but I will let my friend hobbybaker answer because these are her questions.

            1. re: fadista

              Ok, hobbybaker has not answered in 4 hours, so I am going to answer. LC = Le Creuset, avery famous French brand for making enameled cast iron cookware. It is not the only thing they make, but it is probably the most important part. AC = All-Clad, a very famous American company for making cladded cookware, especially the "Stainless steel- Aluminum- Stainless steel" configuration.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Chem, thanks for the follow up! Yes, expesive stuff, but I got most of them for sale or at LC or WS outlet stores :) Oh, sorry for my abbreviation agin. WS = Williams-Sonoma. Also DO = Dutch Oven.

                1. re: hobbybaker

                  ... you have been on internet too long... next thing you do, you will type "LOL" and "ROFL" and all other abbreviations....

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    "... you have been on internet too long..."

                    No, Chem. " you have been on CHOWHOUND with cookware junkies too long" is correct. LOL :-) What is ROFL??

                    1. re: hobbybaker

                      Actually I learn about ROFL when I was in graduate school... I think. It stands for "rolling on floor (and) laughing" I think

          2. Fadista, I cook curries all the time and I use my Scanpans, which are non-stick. No problems.

            But any other halfway decent pan should do just fine as well. Just stir it once in awhile, you should be fine.

            1. If you follow the Julie Sahni (and other writers') technique of brown-frying onions in vegetable oil, add the ground or whole spices after the onions are carmelized, then deglaze with water (scraping), there is no need for non-stick. Just make sure the onion-spice slurry cooks long at a low temperature...I've used Le Creuset with excellent results for more than 30 years.

                1. I use stainless and never have much problem with sticking. I use an all clad saute pan bc that's what i have but i think the sauciers would be ideal. if you can find a 3qt saucier i'd bet you'd get a lot of use out of it.

                  for those that use LC- do you get staining from turmeric? i've have my eye on a baiser for years but talk myself out of it bc i worry it'll stain...

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: qwerty78

                    Hasn't been a problem for me for my LC saucepan...you do have to soak and scrub...my old LC/Doufeu has long since given up its interior aesthetics...it just cooks things wonderfully...

                    1. re: qwerty78

                      qwerty, Yes, My AC 3qt saucier with domed lid, helper handle, curved rim is ideal for indian curries!

                      I Love my LC 3.5 qt buffet casserole especially for curry dinners with friends. it cooks perfectly with slow simmering ability and presents the food greatly. Also, with the lid on, curries stay warm on the dining table! Very useful entertaining tool for me.

                      For stains, as I mentioned above. Just pour warm water and wait overnight. Also, baking powder normally works well with turmeric if stain is really heavy.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          both works me well. I know baking soda works with acid, no??
                          Chem, based on your name, you must know which one is better if any significant difference for cleaning!!

                      1. re: qwerty78

                        thanks- I'll check the outlets next time i'm there to see if they have one for a good price. that shape looks very versitile.

                        to the OP- you may want to check out the all clad cassoulet or petite braiser. both are reasonably priced and would be a great size. I have the petite braiser and it's good for dishes for 2-4. the casoulet looks ideal.

                      2. Fadista, non-stick is best. I use nonstick for doing all my Pakistani cooking. I brown fry onions in non-stick, I brown meat in nonstick, I make pullaos and birianis in non-stick, I reduce milk for sweets in non-stick, roast masalas, fry parathas, and all. It allows me to use less oil, is easier to clean, and is less of a headache. If you switch to stainless steel, you will have to change up your methods a bit. You will have to cook on a lower flame, babysit more so as not to burn the bottom of your gravy or daal, and allow the food to cook for longer since you can't just close the pan and walk away and you will be opening to stir and letting heat escape. And you will just have to use more oil. There is no way to get around that. However, you can pour off the excess oil at the end of cooking. I have one large stainless steel pot, as well as some hindoleum Indian cooking vessels that I use for some types of dishes, and that is my observation.

                        In India and Pakistan I see home cooks cooking in very thin, cheap aluminum pots and they do just fine. It is just a matter of what one is used to. They definitely are okay with more oil, though.

                        1. I'm with Luckyfatima. I've been doing all my Indian style cooking - all my cooking in fact - in one type or another of nonstick cookware for many many years. I don't use a lower flame than I would in any other type of cookware. The nonstick I am using now and have been using for the past 25 years or so is ScanPan. I have the original Scanpans (which I call Gen 1) and I bought a set of the new Scanpans (which I call Gen 2) for my son 4 years ago. I am currently staying with my son because of poor health and have been using his Scanpans for about the past 6 months. The Gen 1's were good but the Gen 2's are better.

                          In particular, dosai in these pans are easy and quick. All I have to do is take a damp cloth and wipe the hot pan out between dosai. Metal utensils are fine in these pans.

                          I've been cooking on non-stick for 25 years - well, longer than that but GOOD non-stick for 25 years. I kept birds for a long time. The kitchen was open to the living room where the birds were. If there was any outgassing the birds would have died. They did not. There is no reason to fear your nonstick. Outgassing is a potential problem during the MANUFACTURE of this type of cookware, but even if you leave the stove on high and walk off and leave your empty pot sitting there, it will not outgas enough to make you sick. Your house may catch fire but you won't die of poisoning. The new non-stick coatings are totally different from the original Teflon cookware. I don't know about Calphalon and other members of the current batch of non-stick cookware, but Scanpan uses a PTFE composite. This composite can break down but does not break down easily. The temperatures at which it would start to outgas enough to be of concern are very high - I looked them up once but don't remember the exact number - but it's so high it could only be achieved in a house fire. Various testing agencies, including CI and consumer's reports, have tested modern non-stick cookware for outgassing and none was detected.

                          Don't let the alarmists get to you. It's safe to use your nonstick.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ZenSojourner

                            Thanks. I appreciate the reassurance - I was beginning to get a little worried.