Thursday, April 29, 2010

Scrub On, Scrub Off, Scrub On, Scrub Off: Seasoning the Karai

Miyagi: First, wash all car. Then wax. Wax on...
Daniel: Hey, why do I have to...?
Miyagi: Ah ah! Remember deal! No questions!
Daniel: Yeah, but...
Miyagi: Hai!
[makes circular gestures with each hand]
Miyagi: Wax on, right hand. Wax off, left hand. Wax on, wax off. Breathe in through nose, out the mouth. Wax on, wax off. Don't forget to breathe, very important.
[walks away, still making circular motions with hands]
Miyagi: Wax on, wax off. Wax on, wax off.

Those were the words that went through my head when I saw and then cleaned my first karai, a wok-like pot used in Indian cooking. I could have chosen a brand new, teflon-coated steel one, or an aluminum one, but I went straight for the older-style iron karai.

After a recommendation to get an iron karai at the Gariahat Fish Market, I found a kitchen supply vendor that had stacks and stack of aluminum karai. When I inquired about iron ones, he came around to the front of the stall and pulled out a pot from under a wooden bench draped with a cloth. My karai appeared completely covered with rust. But at $3.00, I thought it would be worth the effort.

I took it home and then scrubbed and scrubbed - or rather wax on, wax off - until most of the rust was off with a mix of oil and salt, then water, dish soap and steel wool. It took several attempts to get to the silver-colored iron.

After the cleaning, I coated it with oil and baked it in the oven for one hour to set the first layer of seasoning. It was then ready to start using. I then felt worthy enough to start cooking Indian and Bengali food in front of Krishna.

Movie quote from The Karate Kid


Daniela Swider said...

Please share some of your favorite recipes! I love Indian food (or at least what we get in Indian restaurants in the US). I've made a few things using starter packets but never from scratch. I'd love to try something.

How different is what Krishna makes from what you can get in Indian restaurants in the US?

Natalie Buda Smith said...

Will definitely post some of the recipes I am learning with her. Her style of cooking is "a little bit of this and a little bit of that," which makes it more fun, but hard to write down!

Most of the popular Indian food in the U.S. is Northern Indian food, so I am getting to learn how to make food that is more popular in East India - more vegetables like eggplant, cauliflower, potatoes; rice and dhal; fish and flat breads.

Getting hungry again!

Colleen said...

Mustard and green chilies is a classic Bangla combination.

I once pan-fried betki (white fish fillets similar taste and consistency to tilapia) on the stove. Once it was cooked through, I broke the fillets into pieces and covered the whole dish with spicy (kesundi) mustard sauce and two green chilies sliced in half.

It was spicy and very tasty, similar in taste to betki paturi (very nice Bengali dish).

Natalie is right. Most Indian food in American restaurants is Punjabi since so many Indians living in the US are from that state.

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