Following on from my post about the typical Indian bathroom, a reader recently asked in the forum about what a typical Indian kitchen looks like. I thought it worthwhile to write a post on it, as the typical Indian kitchen has quite a few unwelcome surprises for the foreigner (more so than the bathroom)!
The first thing to note is that similar to bathrooms in India, western designs (meaning modular kitchens with built in cupboards and other facilities) are only just starting to grace Indian kitchens. And they’re commonly only a feature of high-end “luxury” properties. Most of the kitchens you’ll come across in India will look like the one in the above picture. They’re readily identified by:
- A sea of silver — pots, pans, containers, cutlery, and crockery.
- A portable cook top (which I refer to as a “camp stove”).
- And the Pièce de Résistance, a gas bottle.
As can be seen from the photo, the gas bottle sits under the stove (very much like camping, na?). Newer residential developments, especially in Mumbai, do have gas pipelines (my previous apartment included). Yet, just as many Indians shun modern western appliances such as washing machines, they do the same in regards to reticulated gas. They fear that the pipe will leak and that there will be an explosion.
Now that we’ve taken a look what’s in an Indian kitchen, let’s see what you won’t find.
- No hot water (Indian homes usually have small hot water heaters in the bathrooms only).
- No plug for the kitchen sink (dishes are washed not in a sink full of soapy water, but rather under the running tap).
- No rangehood/extractor fan, no dishwasher, and no oven (Indian cooking doesn’t involve baking).
I’ve adjusted well enough to all of the above (perhaps with the exception of not having a rangehood — Indian kitchens get VERY hot and smoky when cooking with oil at high temperatures).
Nevertheless, what remains a constant source of frustration is poor kitchen design, particularly lack of storage. I’m fortunate that my kitchen has cupboards above and below the bench (although the ones below aren’t really usable as they constantly smell damp in the humidity). However, there’s no pantry and no cutlery draw. This leads to the reason why Indian kitchens are often a sea of silver: there is simply nowhere to store the items away (and what little cupboard space there is is taken up with food).
What’s more when buying a new apartment in India, it’s likely that there won’t even be any doors on the cupboard space below the bench. It’s just an open platform.
Now, you might be wondering, is there anything actually good about the typical Indian kitchen? I’m happy to say, yes, there is! Real granite benches. You’ll never come across an economical granite-look melamine kitchen bench in India. India has a huge granite and marble industry. And just like marble floors are standard, so too are granite benches.
Photo credit: www.flickr.com user Stephanie Booth