A-Z of Kitchenware: Interesting Tools and Utensils from Around the World

18 Dec

A-Z of Kitchenware: Interesting Tools and Utensils from Around the World

The names of interesting tools and utensils used for cooking/dining around the world, one for each letter of the alphabet.

A-Z of kitchenware: how many of these are new to you?

abura kiri

A shallow tray, or pan fitted with a rack, abura kiri is used in the Japanese kitchen to place food on after deep frying.

Abura kiri generally has an absorbent paper to soak up the excess oil.

Boiyyaam Pickle Jarboiyyaam

A large glass or ceramic jar in which Indian pickles are prepared and stored. Called "martbaan" in other regions of India, this jar goes by the name boiyyaam in Bihar. The typical boiyyaam has a wide mouth, a marble-shaped knob on the lid, and if ceramic, a white-and-mustard color scheme.



Caquelon is the fancy name for a fondue pot. The word comes from the Swiss-German word kakel meaning "earthenware casserole", though the modern caquelon may be made of other materials like stone, enamelled cast iron, or porcelain. Typically, the caquelon has a thick base to prevent burning of cheese, and a single stubby handle.


Arabic coffee pot, usually richly ornamented, used to brew and serve coffees like kahwa and khaleeji.

Metals like copper, brass or silver are used in its making.

Arabic coffee beans were traditionally roasted and simmered in a dallah over an open fire. Nowadays, the dallah is often used more as decorative serveware.

eekh press

Eekh is Hindi for sugarcane, of which the juice is very popular in small towns in India. Vendors stand on street corners with large eekh mills mounted on colorful carts, offering freshly-pressed juice in glass tumblers to thirsty passersby.

The juicer is manually operated and gives an added side-benefit of arm workout.

A home-version of the eekh press can be acquired too – here’s one: Sugar Cane Mill Manual Juicer Extractor.


The word “foon” is a portmanteau of FOrk and spoON. (The residual letters form an analogous synonym: spork!)

As you can guess from the name, a foon is a hybrid form of cutlery that combines the scoop of a  spoon with the tines of a fork. Useful for having food like noodle soup.


Microwave-safe cookware with a tab handle for easy grabbing. Grabits were among the first cookware designed for microwave use.

Grabits are usually made of microwaveable material like pyroceram, and they can be covered with a plastic or Pyrex glass lid.

The tab handle is supposed to remain cool after microwaving to allow easy handling of the dish.

hot pot

Hot pot is a pot of stew with a portable burner – ingredients of a hot pot dish are put into it and simmered right at the dining table. The apparatus originates from East Asia, with different regions having their own styles of preparation. Hot pot parts come in varieties too – pots with separators, butane burners, induction sets.

Some tips on how to cook Chinese hot pot at home.

iddiyappa ural

idiyappa uralIdiyappam (or string hoppers) is staple food from the southern states of India, made by pressing rice flour into noodle form and then steaming it. The making of idiyappam traditionally happens in an "idiyappa ural", a wooden contraption consisting of a mould with holes, and a press. The rice flour dough is placed in the mould and the press is placed firmly over it, causing the flour to squiggle out from the holed end in noodle form.

The noodles are squeezed out on a flat surface – traditionally a woven tray made of palm/coconut tree leaves – and steamed.

jelly mold

A tool made of metal, glass, nowadays more popularly silicone, used for setting jellies in decorative shape. Once set, the jelly is inverted onto a serving place, after which it should retain the shape of the jelly mold.

The mold can be a single block out of which smaller sizes can be cut out for serving, or shaped for individual serving sizes.

The one in the adjacent picture is a bright pink 12-Cavity Silicone Jelly Mold.


A thick-bottom circular cooking pot used in Indian cuisine, traditionally made of cast iron, nowadays made of other metals like stainless steel, copper and non-stick material. A kadhai (karahi) is commonly used for deep frying or for cooking curries – the browning of vegetables in a metal kadhai as they are sauted gives the dish a distinct flavour and color.

The kadhai has inspired many names of dishes served in Indian restaurants, such as kadhai paneer. 


Lame (pronounced "lahm", which means "blade" in French) is a breadmaking tool – typically a long thin stick that holds a metal razor to cut, or score, bread dough just before it is put in the oven. The scoring help control the expansion of the loaf as it bakes.

Here’s more about the lame – Slasher: Baking and the Art of Scoring Serious Dough.


Mexico’s take on the mortar and pestle (tejolote in Mexican-Spanish), molcajete is a stone tool used to crush and grind ingredients by hand to prepare pastes, salsas or guacamole. 

Molcajete is traditionally carved out of a single block of basalt volcanic rock. It is shaped into a curved dish shape, supported by three short legs. The rough surface of basalt creates a good grinding surface.

Much like food cooked in clay pots, salsas prepared in molcajetes carry distinctive flavor and texture.

Molcajetes can also be used as serveware – due to its high thermal mass, a molcajete retains the heat of its contents for a long time.


A tool for opening nuts with tough shells – walnuts or pecans, for example.

Handheld nutcrackers usually look like pliers – they have jaws containing teeth into which the nut to be cracked is placed.

Another variety of nutcracker comes with a base  – this is placed on a flat surface, and a moving handle is pressed down to crack open the nuts.


otoshibutaAn otoshibuta is a drop lid used in Japanese cooking, which floats directly on top of simmering liquids. It helps to distribute the heat evenly. Otoshibuta is traditionally made of wood, and can be substituted with a sheet of aluminium foil. Nowadays otoshibuta made of silicone has become popular too.

More on the otoshibuta here and here.


palayokA palayok is a clay (earthenware) pot used for food preparation in the Philippines. Since earthenware is porous and does not transfer heat as well as metal, cooking in a palayok takes longer and produces a rich flavor.

Before cooking, the pot is soaked in water. The moisture slowly evaporates as the palayok heats up – the food inside releases its juices, but these juices cannot escape till the pot is dry. The result is that a palayok gets the food to cook in its own juices, thus enhancing its taste.


Qazan (also spelled kazan, qozon, qazghan or ghazan) means "the hollowed-out thing" in the Turkic language. A qazan is a cooking pot used in Central Asia, Russia, and the Balkan Peninsula.

Qazans are traditionally made of cast iron; modern versions include aluminium and non-stick. They come in a variety of sizes, going up to huge multi-litre volumes.

roller docker

A handheld tool with pins on it, used to pierce dough (like pizza dough or pastry dough) before it is baked, to prevent air pocket formation or blistering. The spacing of the pins could vary depending on the type of dough it is meant to be used for – a roller docker for cracker dough, for example, would have closed spaced pins; a roller docker for pizza dough would have widely spaced pins.

sil batta

sil battaWhere Mexico would use the malcajete, India would use the sil batta. The sil is a flat stone surface on which herbs and spices to be ground are placed. The batta – an ovoid-shaped stone tool – is rolled over the ingredients by hand to produce chutneys, spice rubs and pastes.

Though the electrical grinder has replaced the sil batta in most modern kitchens, some still swear by doing it the classical way.


An eartherware pot originating from North Africa, with a trademark shape – a flat, circular base with low sides, and a cone/dome-shaped cover. Tagines do double-duty as cookware plus serveware – the traditional method is to slow-cook dishes in the tagine over hot charcoal. The cover’s design promotes the return of condensation to the base, making tagine cooking similar to stewing.

As with kadhai, the vessel tagine lends its name to dishes prepared in it.


uruliUruli is a traditional cookware used in the southern Indian state of Kerala. It is circular in shape and is made of bell metal (a variety of bronze), copper or clay. Urulis are used in restaurants, and on special occasions to cook large amounts of food. Ornamental urulis can be used for decoration – to hold floating flowers or candles, or in puja-rooms.

vegetable spiralizer

A kitchen appliance that has become a huge hit in the recent times, especially among those on low-carb/gluten-free diets. A vegetable spiralizer is used to cut vegetables like zucchini and carrots into noodle shape. Spiralizers usually provide a selection of strand options: spaghetti, ribbon, spirals.

Spiralized vegetables can be used as a pasta alternative, as in these zoodle recipes.


China’s signature cooking vessel, the wok, is used for several Asian cooking techniques like stir-frying or smoking. A wok has a round-bottom; the handles may be styled as loop or stick. Several recipes are built around wok cooking, such as this one.

yogurt maker

With some care and the right setting temperature, yogurt can be made easily without any gadget (cue: how to make yogurt at home), but if you want to make the job easier, help is at hand in the form of yogurt-makers. A yogurt maker provides controls for temperature and fermentation time, alongwith reusable containers for yogurt.


A sieve-like bamboo tray from Japan, traditionally used to serve soba noodles.

A zaru can also be used as a colander or sieve for boiled noodles. 

A video recipe of soba noodles being prepared and served on a zaru: zaru soba.


No "X" in this alphabetical list. Can you think of any cookware/serveware starting with that elusive letter?

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