Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Cast Iron Cooking: Tips, Recipe Ideas, a Giant Cookie and a Cookbook Review

The right tool for the right job makes cooking a rewarding experience. I've gone back and forth so many times on the ideal cookware to stock my kitchen with. These days I find myself reaching for one skillet on a daily basis, sometimes washing out the skillet and using it twice for the same meal. I'm talking about my cast iron skillet.

There's much to love about cast iron cookware. For me, the number one thing is the fact that cast iron can withstand very high heat, making it possible to cook restaurant-tasting meals at home. You know what I am talking about- food with a flavorful brown sear on the outside and juicy on the inside. We seem to live in times where products last a year or so before they are made obsolete by the next version. Cast iron cookware lasts a lifetime and more. Long after my nonstick pan surface is chipping, and after the steel skillet handles are coming loose, the cast iron pan will be working as hard as ever. You only have to be a little patient and learn to care for it properly.

With my growing love for cast iron cookware, when I was offered a review copy of The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook: A Treasury of Timeless, Delicious Recipes, I was happy to accept. I had a feeling that this cookbook would give me a few new ideas to use my cast iron cookware (it just so happens that both of my cast iron pans are from Lodge and I'm officially a fan), and it definitely did not disappoint.


Here are 5 things I loved about this cookbook:

1. I like reading cookbooks the way other people read novels, and this one is full of mini essays by different cooks about their cast iron memories. And I enjoyed reading this little nugget- many pieces of Lodge cookware made in 1896 are still in use today. Now that's the kind of antique I would not mind collecting.

2. The book is rich in vegetarian recipes and they sound oh-so-good, just to name a few- seasonal breakfast frittata, pimiento cheese panini sandwich, summer squash casserole, roasted corn pudding; there's even a recipe for rajma.

3. I always thought it was a bad idea to cook tomato-based dishes in cast iron, because acidic foods leach the iron and make the food taste too metallic. Many of the recipes were tomato based so it is indeed fine to cook acidic foods in cast iron, only perhaps I wouldn't leave the food in the pan too long after cooking. This opens up even more possibilities of using my cast iron cookware.

4. There is a whole section on cornbread recipes, all grand prize winners of the National Cornbread Cook-Off held annually in Tennessee. I really enjoying looking through the innovative variations on cornbread, like upside-down salsa cornbread and festive good luck cornbread skillet (yes, it calls for black-eyed peas).

5. I never thought to use my cast iron skillet for pizza and desserts. The cookbook has wonderful recipes for both. I then looked at food blogs and found many more, like this nice pictorial recipe for cast iron pizza and another one from King Arthur. Pineapple upside down cake is the classic recipe for dessert in a cast iron skillet, but I also can't wait to make these brownies, and Siri has a wonderful recipe for banana bread.

All in all, paired with a piece or two of cast iron cookware, The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook cookbook would be a wonderful wedding or housewarming gift.

One of the recipes from this cookbook that jumped out at me was for a giant chocolate chip cookie. A simple chocolate chip cookie dough patted into a cast iron skillet and baked into a giant cookie that can be cut and served like a pie- what fun!

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie-in-a-Pan
(Heavily adapted from a recipe in The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook)


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. In a large bowl, melt and cool 1.5 sticks butter (3/4 cup).
3. Stir in 1 cup sugar and a dollop of molasses and beat well.
4. Add 1 large egg, 1 egg yolk and 2 tsp. vanilla extract and beat well.
5. Gently stir in 1 and 3/4 cup flour, 1 tsp. baking soda and 1 tsp. salt.
6. Fold in 2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips and 1 cup toasted chopped walnuts.
7. Scrape batter into a 10-inch cast iron skillet sprayed well with baking spray. Pat down into an even layer.
8. Sprinkle batter with coarse sea salt.
9. Bake until the edges are lightly browned, 30-35 minutes.

Cut into wedges and serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. With the bittersweet chocolate and the hit of sea salt, this was a grown up version of a childhood classic. For a special occasion, it would be fun to use an icing tube and decorate this "cookie cake" the way they do it at the mall cookie stalls.



Here is a list of top 10 ways that I use my two cast iron pans. There are many brands out there but like I said, both of mine are Lodge, from their seasoned line, and I love them. I cook a lot of Indian food so it is not surprising that I have adapted my cast iron pans for some of my favorite Indian dishes.

My first cast iron pan was this seasoned 10 inch griddle.

1. Dosa. This is the reason I bought this griddle in the first place. When we moved to St. Louis from NYC, I tearfully bid farewell to the wonderful dosa restaurants near 28th street and Lexington Avenue and thought my days of eating authentic dosas were over. Not so- we acquired a wet grinder and I bought this wonderful cast iron tava, and we're making our own almost-as-good-as-the-local-Udipi-joint dosas, baby.


Here are some of my kitchen notes for making dosas in a cast iron pan:
  • I always smear the cast iron pan with a tsp. of oil before starting to use it, and drizzle a few drops of oil or ghee around every dosa edge. For a new cast iron pan, you may need a little extra oil to begin with.
  • Get the pan nice and hot before pouring the first dosa. Cast iron takes longer to heat up compared to metal or non stick pans (however, once it heats up it retains heat remarkably well). Hover the palm of your hand a couple inches above the pan's surface- you should feel the high heat. 
  • Make sure the dosa batter is at room temperature. Batter straight from the fridge tends to stick to the pan.
  • Let the bottom get completely cooked and crispy before attempting to flip the dosa or pry it up (many dosas are cooked only on one side). Once the dosa cooks, it will come off the surface. Half cooked batter sticks to the griddle surface so be patient.
  • By the way, my dosa formula is adapted from Vaishali's recipe. I use 1 cup brown rice, 1 cup dosa/idli rice (parboiled rice), 1/2 cup urad dal, 1/3 cup poha, 2 tbsp chana dal, and 1 tsp. methi seeds.
2. Rotis etc. All of our tava-cooked Indian breads, including chapatis and rotis and stuffed parathas turn out beautifully on the cast iron tava, with nice brown spots on the outside and soft insides- and this works for both cooking them and reheating them.

3. Patties: Vegetable patties are my favorite crisper-cleaning snacks and a tasty way of eating assorted vegetables. I use the griddle for shallow frying patties, such as these, and patties for ragda patties.

4. Kaap: These are pan-fried slices of vegetables that make for irresistible side dishes to a simple Indian meal. In general, I make a mixture of rice flour, rava, chili powder, turmeric and salt, then dredge thick slices of vegetables (potato, sweet potato, plantain, eggplant, pumpkin, butternut squash) in it and pan fry on this griddle. Much more than any other pan I have used, the result is a crispy spicy coating enclosing soft, melt-in-the-mouth vegetables.

4. Grilled cheese: Cast iron griddles make the most fabulous grilled cheese. Some of our favorite cheese sandwiches are here. These days, we often make "gourmet" grilled cheese with fancy bread, assorted cheeses and interesting combinations of fillings, like brie and apricot jam.

5. Quesadillas: This dish is a weekly favorite in my home. Just stuff a whole wheat tortilla with plenty of shredded cheese and a filling of beans and sauteed vegetables. Again, the high heat of cast iron contributes intense flavor to this simple dish.

In Spring of last year, I wanted to add to my collection and bought a 10 inch cast iron skillet. If you are new to using cast iron, then this is the pan I would recommend. It is incredibly versatile and the size is just right for a family of 2 to 4. Buying a seasoned pan makes it simple for a beginner to start using it right away. Here are my top 5 uses for this skillet:

1. Sauteed vegetables: I am convinced that most of the reason why some people hate vegetables is because they have not been cooked in a flavorful way. Roasting is one way to get vegetables browned and tasty and a quicker easier way is to cook the vegetables on fairly high heat in a cast iron skillet. I saute vegetables to serve as a quick side dish, to add to grilled cheese and quasadillas (see above) and to add to curries.

2. Bhaaji/Subzi: All of my favorite subzis (Indian stir-fried vegetables), like cabbage, cauliflower-peas and eggplant-lima beans, give me fabulous results with this skillet. I do find that potatoes tend to stick to the pan.

3. Caramelized onions: The easiest way to make a posh meal out of a humble vegetable. Caramelize a bunch of onions and make a dip, put them on pizza or grilled cheese or turn them into soup.

4. Skillet lasagna: After reading this cookbook and discovering that you can indeed cook tomato-based dishes in cast iron cookware, I made skillet lasagna with great results- simple saute vegetables like onion, peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, add pasta sauce, broken lasagna noodles and cheese- ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan- and cover and cook for a tasty one dish meal.

5. Rice dishes turn out beautifully- I've already posted a mushroom pulao, had great results with this recipe for cheesy rice, and my all-time favorite breakfast dish, poha, is wonderful when made in the cast iron skillet.

If you have any more ideas for using these versatile pans, please chime in by leaving a comment.

This post is a tribute to Miri who wrote the popular food blog Peppermill. Miri passed away last week, leaving me (and so many of her blogger friends) reeling with shock and sorrow. I was a regular reader of Miri's blog and enjoyed her warm and and optimistic voice. She shared hundreds of recipes that had me in a bookmarking frenzy, from a recent favorite winter vegetable pickle made by her neighbor's mom to all the Tamil specialties. Diwali of last year, I was home with a newborn with no time to make traditional treats, but reading her 4-part Diwali bhakshanam series (she wrote with characteristic enthusiasm, "I decided to involve my 6 year old so that she gets a feel of all the traditional Tamil sweets and savories which she wouldn't get to see otherwise in Delhi") made the festive season come alive for me.

Re-reading Miri's post about baking muffins with her daughter was extremely painful this past week, knowing that this little 6 year old girl is left to face the biggest loss of all. I hope Miri's husband and daughter know that they have friends and well-wishers all over the world and that their darling wife/mother touched many lives. Read loving tributes to Miri by Arch, Bong Mom, Manisha and Nina.

During a brief e-mail correspondence, Miri told me her real-life name- Raji- but I will always think of her as Miri (the word means "pepper" in several Indian languages), peppering our blogs generously with her witty and warm comments. What makes it most poignant is that Miri who so loved cooking and baking succumbed to a rare digestive disorder. I laid aside my grief and tried to write this post with joy and enthusiasm because I think Miri would have liked that.

78 comments:

  1. lovely post...miss Miri too..
    now I have bookmarked this post, just so i can read it again after I buy my Iron cast pan this weekend :)

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    1. Hope you enjoy your new cast iron pan :) be patient because cast iron needs a bit of patience and seasoning to acquire a great non-stick quality.

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    2. Glad to come across this posting on Dosas.

      I bought the Lodge Pro Logic Cast Iron 14" Pizza Pan (amazon.com), Black last week and it just arrived yesterday. I tried to make Dosas today and it came out very well. but, the Dosa was hard and seemed a bit dry. (i used the same amount of oil I normally use on my old non-stick pan which served me for years).

      Also, please let me know how to make the Masala for the Dosa. (Masala Dosa). potatoes and what else and the process please.

      thanks in advance.

      Ravi

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    3. I got my cast iron yesterday. Lodge Pro Logic Cast Iron 14" Pizza Pan, Black from amazon.com. today, I tried to make Dosas and it came out well. but, the Dosa was a bit hard/rough or rather dry and not smooth. but, it was a bit hard and crispy. I used the same amount of oil which I normally use in my old non-stick pan.

      I also made Dosa big and used the flat bottom cup to spread it for the first time. it came out very well. but again, the Dosa seemed to be dry, thick and crispy.

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    4. Hi Ravi,
      hang on and make your dosas with lit bit more oil for a while(3 months for me). Mine were dry too. After 3-4 months of use it is great today.

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  2. We love our cast iron, too! Well, for the most part. Our most recent purchase was the large, square griddle, which we hoped to use for pancakes, but it doesn't seem to heat evenly enough. The center of the griddle is hot, so whatever is there cooks too quickly and burns while the part of the pancake farther out is under-cooked. Any tips for this in the book? Or for making scrambled eggs in cast iron? (We have fried eggs and frittatas figured out.)

    Cooking tomato-based sauces and dishes in cast iron is actually a great way to increase the iron in a vegetarian diet.

    I am sorry to hear about the death of your friend.

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    1. Melissa- the book indeed has a recipe for scrambled eggs. But there are no special tips for making scrambled eggs in cast iron- I suppose you need a really really well seasoned pan.
      Ah, that's too bad about the uneven heating of your square griddle. The only thing I can think of is putting a heat diffuser- maybe that would help distribute the heat better? Just a thought!

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    2. An enamel cast iron pan is great for scrambled eggs.

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  3. I have yet to invest in a cast iron pan but now you have convinced me to do so.

    We will always miss Miri, Nupur. Hugs to you.

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    1. You won't regret it (and luckily they are not expensive either). For someone who cooks as much as you do, you'll love the versatility of cast iron.

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  4. I visited Miri's blog for the first time after reading your post; her warmth and zest shine through in her writing. It's heartbreaking to think this person is gone; my condolences.

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    1. I still can't believe she is gone. Life is so fragile.

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  5. RIP Miri!
    Great post. I love my Lodge cast iron! But I have been told that you should not use the same tava for dosa and roti - as making rotis will ruin the dosa pan. Any thoughts?
    Also I find that my cast iron gets too hot for my dosas (i.e) the dosa starts to cook as soon as I drop the ladle of batter leaving me not much time for making a circle -I then have to reduce the heat every time before dropping the batter and increase the heat making the process of dosa making consuming. Does this happen to you?
    Btw how is little Lila doing?

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    1. You know, for many months/years, I've been so busy with work and busy that I haven't made rotis from scratch so have been using my tava for dosa and reheating (not cooking) rotis. But I had not heard that before, I would say as long as you care for it properly it should be fine to use the same tava for both.
      I keep the heat at a "sweet spot" and it works well- cooks dosas fast enough but gives me time to spread the batter.
      Lila is doing great, thanks for asking :) smiling and cooing away.

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  6. Last year I acquired a cast iron griddle and a few weeks ago a pan (Imusa brand) and love it.
    I use the tawa for my rotis and the other for everything else (dosa, paratha, patties, grilled sandwiches and when I do buy them, heating frozen naan) Everything heats perfectly and cooks well ( the browning part, awesome.
    I have never made anything like pohe, rice in the pan, forget about gravies.. I was not confident, but I will now.
    I read somewhere about a blogger using her cast iron pan to make a deep dish pizza, a perfect pie, I must add.

    RIP, Miri. I stumbled on her blog recently, in fact thru a comment on OHS. It was heartbreaking to read about her struggle and her courage thru her ordeal. Sometimes we take so many things for granted and crib about this that and the other, but then comes a harsh reminder that is so humbling. I hope her daughter and husband will have the strength to bear her loss.

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    1. Manasi- as your pan gets used more and more and gets more of a non-stick quality, it will be wonderful for rice dishes and gravies. I'm going to make a pizza in mine soon!
      I know- the death of a young friend is a very humbling thing, I am trying not to take my own life and health for granted.

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  7. Well written post Nupur, boookmarked just this post for all the tips and info.

    Sorry to hear about Miri, dint know much about her, just checking out her blog.

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  8. We love our Lodge skillet for making Paella on the grill! Try it, you'll be hooked. We're now anxiously awaiting grilling season to work our way through the new Paella cookbook (Alberto Herraiz, Paedon publishing) we got for Christmas. Can't wait....

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    1. Yes, good idea, I'll have to try making paella in mine.

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  9. RIP Miri!
    Awesome write up. I recently got Logde as well and just can't stop using it. I havn't made dosa's but waiting to make them on my skillet. Bigfoot's cookie is such a treat during my afternoon cooking classes.

    Hoping Lila is all geared up for spring!

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    1. You're a cast iron fan too? Awesome! Bigfoot cookie is a nice name for the giant cookie :)
      Yes, can't wait for warmer weather so I can take Lila for walks.

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  10. We will always miss Miri, its really ironic that she had a digestive disorder when she was so fond of cooking and feeding people...Great info on the cast iron skillet, i wouldn't have imagined so many options of cooking with it...

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    1. I'm still discovering new options all the time! It is really very versatile cookware.

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  11. Hi Nupur,
    Love your blog for all the recipes and the information:))
    I got an iron kadai from India..Is it the same as your cast iron skillet? Just wondering if there are types..
    Thanks,
    Vini

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    1. Yes, Vini, if your iron kadhai is black in color and super heavy then it is cast iron. Cast iron is used a lot in India!

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  12. Thanks Nupur for the cookie recipe. Turned out really well. Overall a must bookmark post! Your posts are always a good read for me.

    Felt sad, reading about Miri. RIP Miri.
    -Swarupa

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  13. Not only is it okay to cook sour foods in a cast iron vessel, it is recommended! Sour foods (such as tomatoes) draw out the iron and make the resulting food iron-rich, an easy way to supplement iron in our diets! Indian women are generally found to have iron deficiency. Much wisdom in using the old iron kadahi and ditching the aluminium one.

    Raji did touch so many lives. She will live on in ours in so many ways.

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    1. I did know about iron leaching into food but thought tomato was a bit too much and would make food metallic. But now I'll be using my cast iron even more :)

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  14. I am yet to have a cast iron pan in my kitchen. The heaviness bothers me a little with the kids always being around the counter, legs everything. not that I will bash them up with a pan or anything but still :) I have the small dutch-pancake pan in cast iron and like it so far.
    Yesterday I used a sprinkle of your Kolhapuri masala on some french cut green beans. The taste went from okay to divine. Thanks much.

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    1. Yep- it is cookware and weapon all in one- what could go wrong? ;) But you get used to the weight and I have come to love the sturdiness.
      So glad you are enjoying the Kolhapuri masala, once you run out, let me know and I'll keep you supplied.

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  15. Another great post Nupur. I have heard that cooking in cast iron is good and the food you cook is iron rich - not sure if that's true. I also remember vaguely someone telling me that you should not let your cooked food sit in the cast iron for long and should transfer it to another pot/serving dish soon enough after cooking.

    I was thinking of getting a cast iron skillet for dosas many years back, but still haven't gotten one as I have too many pots and pans which are in excellent condition. So I keep going back and forth with the thought of buying a cast iron one.

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    1. YES what you have heard about iron leaching into food is very true indeed. And also true that if you leave food sitting in there for too long it will leach too much iron and taste metallic to some, and the pan might rust.

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  16. Hi Nupur, I was so touched by your post today--as always. But your tribute to Miri really tugged at my heart and gave me great pause. I am so sorry to hear of this loss. It was lovely of you to share this with us all. Hugs to you. (I bought a cast iron from Lodge a few years back and love it to pieces.)

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    1. Hugs to you too, Kelly! And you are a cast iron pan fan too- yeah!

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  17. It is indeed one of the very touching tributes to Miri. I was (and still is) shocked to hear about her and to re-read some of her last few posts in hindsight have been so overwhelming.

    I have a cast-iron aape-patra which I use occasionally to make aape, low fat batata-wada etc; I love it - except perhaps the weight to carry it!

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    1. My appe patra is non stick (a gift from my nonstick loving mum) but I can see how a cast iron one would be terrific.

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  18. very new dish..yum and delicious one..do drop in my space when u fine sometime...........

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  19. This post came at the right time, I just began using my Abelskiver pan to make Konkani Appe. I also own a Cast Iron skillet and love its versatility - Iron rich food and no fear of toxins seeping in from non-stick ware (i.e if the surface corrodes). The heaviness sometimes bothers me though. My Mom has one which she has been using for more than 20 years now.

    Miri will be missed. A warm hug to you Nupur.

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    1. So glad you are loving your cast iron skillet too! I am getting used to the weight and other pans feel flimsy to me now :)

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  20. the giant cookie just got my food juices flowing. I have been contemplating the cast iron pan and it's time to get one.
    Thanks for the post about Miri. I am just getting to know her through your posts and it's already too late.
    Love and hugs to you and lil L.

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    1. You won't regret buying a cast iron pan. Especially because it is one of those things that you buy once and use for a lifetime or more! Love to you and little A too- although he's a big boy by now :)

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  21. Thanks Nupur, for the heart-tugging tribute to Miri. Like you, I have been a regular reader of her blog.

    I stated cooking in cast iron pots a couple of years ago and fell in love with the results. I bought the whole range a year or so ago, when I found them on sale - skillets, dutch oven, grill etc. But my favorite is this little Lodge 14oz melting pot which is perfect for tadkas!
    Thanks for all the tips!

    Sabah

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    1. Oh wow, you bought the whole range! That's awesome- I hope to build my collection by buying a piece here and there.

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  22. Really nice tribute to Miri.

    Cast iron skillets were the original no-stick cookware - properly seasoned, of course. We have a pair that belonged to my wife's grandmother - they're over 100 years old and still going strong! I don't use them enough - but you've reminded me that I should. Good post - thanks.

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    1. You are so right- there are the original non stick cookware! My pans almost live on the stove, I've gotten used to using them on a daily basis.

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  23. Hi Nupur,

    Thanks for a very informative post!

    Could you please help me with something... I have a cast iron pan that I begged somebody to get for me from US (I am in India)..
    BUT, I am not using it yet, as I do not know how to season it before I start using it!
    I had read abt putting it in very hot oven for hours!! Is that how you need to go about it? In my kitchen I have an electric OTG and not a cooking range with built in gas oven u see... If this indeed is the correct way for first time seasoning, then I am doomed! Is there any alternative method?

    I would really appreciate your response to my query..
    The posts like this one remind me time and again of unused potential in my kitchen!

    Thanks,
    Archana

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  24. Archana- Both the cast iron pans I bought were already seasoned (in the factory). I chose to buy them to avoid having to season before starting to use them. I mention this to say that I have no experience with seasoning before first time use.
    From what I have read, it is possible to season on the stove top if you don't have an oven. Apply oil and place on hot burner. It is certainly worth a try and you'll be able to use the pan.

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  25. Thanks Nupur for such a prompt response!

    You know what, I am feeling really silly right now..

    After posting my question to you, I started looking for seasoning options on net, and then suddenly something clicked!! The brand name!! The pan (skillet) I have is also "Lodge" one... and then looking at their website I saw that their's are pre-seasoned utensils! (this was before your reply was visible to me).

    Last 2 years the pan is sitting deeeep inside my kitchen cupboard, just because I think that I need to season it and do not know how.

    See, thing is when the skillet came to me, it was without ANY packaging, as there was no point in adding volume and weight in the limited baggage allowance for US-India flight. So, absolutely no material/instructions to read abt. I did not pay much attention to which brand it was, my ignorance.

    Anyway!! assuming ALL lodge cast iron skillets come seasoned from their factory, mine is ready to use too.
    Yay! now I cannot wait to try it soon :)

    I am a bigtime lurker here on your blog.. this cast iron pan made me come out first time... so let me tell you, I love your blog :-), really do.
    I have tried some of the recipes, and they turned out great!! Congratulations for 7th blog-b'day! I am your reader for atleast 6 of them :)

    -Thanks,
    Archana

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  26. By the way, cast iron is widely used in India and I am sure there, cast iron pans acquire seasoning by being heated on the stove top (since ovens are rare in traditional Indian kitchens). Good luck!

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  27. What a wonderful post! I have a pan I bought ages ago to make corn bread but it's still in its packaging. Surely going to dust it out soon. It's too small to make dosas but there are so many other possibilities I see.

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    1. Yes- there are tons of options- perhaps you could make little cakes in the corn bread pan? Hope you get lots of use from it!

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  28. I am eyeing the giant cookies there..never in my life I could have thought cookies can be made over skillet..as easy as it can be ..thats a very good recipe to go with cast iron skillet...Thanks for sharing..and congrats on 7 years of blogging.Hope you all are doing fine with bundle of joy around you..enjoy motherhood, it's precious!..hugs and smiles

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  29. Neat post .. I love my cast iron skillet!! Braising is a breeze when the pan is cast iron!! ... I use it all the time! Hope all is well with you and V and Lila!!! Hugs to all of you!!

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    1. Hugs to you too :) and yes, braising is wonderful in cast iron.

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  30. This is a great post Nupur. Am going to start using my pan more often :). Do you wash your pan with mild soap or only water? I have a double burner grill/griddle and am afraid to wash it fearing it might lose its seasoning. I try to clean it with dish towel, but obviously it doesn't get very clean without water/soap. Any tips?

    I love your site... very down to earth and informative. Goodluck with the little one :)

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    1. I wash with hot water, and when I need to scrub I use some coarse salt. You can quickly wash with soap but really the pans get nice and clean with water and some scrubbing.

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  31. What an endearing and sweet tribute Nupur!

    Can I ask what brand cast iron pan you use? I've been looking at the Lodge ones, but haven't found anything big enough for dosas yet. Hugs to you and your 'lil one!

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    1. I use Lodge brand- and my dosa pan from Lodge is 10.5 inches. I realize that's smaller than dosas sold in restaurants but really it works very well for dosas at home. Anything larger and I'm afraid the edges of the pan might not get hot enough on my burners.

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  32. The last time you talked about a cast iron griddle, I went ahead and bought one, have been using it for pancakes ever since. It's nicely seasoned now and I have no issues with it. I already had a "bhida" from India which I use for dosas and aambolya. It is smaller than the griddle. I got it fro my mom who used it for about 2 years, well seasoning it in the process.
    I bought a 12 inch skillet today. You should become their official spokesperson or something. Admittedly, the skillet has been on my mind for a while. Your post just pushed me over the edge :)
    I'm eager to see how okra sabzi works out in it. That's the only sabzi I still use my non-stick for. Replaced all my other pans with stainless steel.
    Love that lodge still manufactures in the USA.

    Anu.

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    1. Yes, I also love that Lodge is made in the USA. I have cooked okra in the cast iron and it worked beautifully. I did need to scrub out the pan well afterwards because the okra slime stuck to it but it was just fine.

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    2. So, just wanted to leave more feedback..this pan has gotten almost daily use since I got it. I went back and forth a lot between the 10 and 12 inch but, I'm really glad I went with the 12. For anyone with concerns about even heating, the base of the pan is 10 inches..it has slanting sides such that the upper diameter is 12 inches.
      -Anu

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  33. @Nupur:
    When you stir fry veggies using the 10" gridle do the vegetables not fly all over as the edges are not that deep or does one have to be careful when stirring them?

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    1. I stir fry veggies in the skillet (this pan has a 2 inch or so side) and not in the griddle which just has a tiny lip on the edge.

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  34. @Nupur:
    Can you also post POHA recipe in cast iron?

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    1. It is the very same recipe that I make in other pans.

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  35. I've always been a silent follower of your blog...for the past 3 or 4 years! Love this post...as much as I love my sasumaa's cast iron vessels!

    RIP Miri....young life lost hurts most...

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  36. I tried to make dosa on cast iron griddle even after well seasoning the griddle, I was unsuccessful.

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  37. Hi Nupur,

    I have enjoyed your blog over last couple of years.
    Its your blog, not my say. But recently it seems as if every blog is overkill with same information content said in many ways....

    DP

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    Replies
    1. The blog is a reflection/diary of my everyday cooking style. I don't make an effort to invent new content just for the blog. So this is a sign that you should go check out some other fresh new blogs :) of which there are hundreds!

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  38. I have been using Cast Iron Skillets and Dutch ovens for the past 25 years. The first 5 years was when I lived in the US and in India since then. I brought back a whole bunch of Iron cookware and after 25 years there is no noticeable wear and tear. Over the years I have managed to add to my collection with griddles, skillets of various shapes and sizes 6", 8", 10" etc.

    In some of the posts here, there seems to be confusion regarding uneven heating and the center of the pan getting hot while the edges are relatively cooler. The gas burners in India do not produce the high temperatures that gas cooking ranges produce in the US, and this is a problem while cooking dosas. I get over this by heating the griddle on high heat till the pan is just starting to smoke, and then turn it down to medium till the pan stops smoking, and then start cooking dosas. Cast iron is good at retaining heat for a long time, and this method works well. Induction stoves work very well, and can be very effective in heating cast iron to high temperatures, but you have to be careful to avoid scratching the cooking surface.

    With reference to seasoning/re-seasoning cast iron cookware. I find that lard or bacon fat works well, but since Indians for the most part are uncomfortable using pork fat, Vanaspati or ghee works just as well. Put the utensil to be treated on high heat, and pour in about a table spoon of ghee and rub it in with a paper towel over the inside surface and set the temperature to medium-high, and every few minutes add another 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of ghee and rub it in to the inside of the pan. Keep adding ghee every few minutes till you have coated the inside around 10-12 times. This should take you about 45 minutes to an hour.

    The pan is usable at this stage and should have developed an adequate and usable non-stick surface, you can repeat this treatment 4-5 times if you have the time to kill, but the non-stick surface should improve over time with regular cooking. The first few times try to use the pan to fry eggs, this is effective in ensuring a better non stick surface finish. In a perfectly seasoned pan the eggs once cooked through should slide around in the pan without sticking or requiring use of a spatula.

    Clean the pan only after it has become cold with water and a nylon brush. Since Indian food tends to leave a lingering odor of curry powder, ginger, garlic, and other spices, this can leave a residue which can turn rancid and smelly when stored, I have found a drop of liquid detergent added to the pan while scrubbing with a nylon brush works best.

    If you have a dutch oven or a skillet with a lid, it is very easy to make Dum Biryani using either an oven or just hot coals on the bottom and on top of the lid. Cook all ingredients in the pan as per your usual recipe and after adding the rice cover with lid and put in preheated oven (or cover with coal) for 15-20 minutes.

    After washing put on the stove for a couple of minutes to make the water evaporate, and then coat with a thin film of oil when dry. Cast Iron pans can be stored indefinitely as long as the inside and outside are coated with a thin film of oil.

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  39. Any idea if good quality Cast Iron pans are available in India?

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  40. What I'm trying to figure out is: How long a time period, is it safe to leave food that is cooked/baked in a cast iron pan.. in that same cast iron pan?? If I bake a pie, or something like that, and we dont eat it at one meal, Or if I want to take a pie to someone else's home for a get-together.. do I have to try and remove a whole pie into another container?

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  41. Yes, Lodge Logic and Bayou classic cast iron pans areavailable in India. Check out this link.

    http://www.zansaar.com/search/cast%20iron?category=1110&sort=lowprice&gclid=CNHg-fveh7QCFQV66wodxSYAEQ

    Its better not to leave or store food in a cast Iron pan. Max would be around 8 hours. Usually its better to transfer the food once the pan gets cold (3-4 Hours) beyond this the food takes on a strong iron/rust odor and metallic taste. Especially beware of foods cooked with Acidic ingredients like tomato, tamarind, lime etc. since acids will react with the iron and ruin the natural non stick seasoning of the pan.

    As rule of thumb, use cast iron only to cook, then transfer the food, clean the pan, coat with oil, and you can not go wrong.

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  42. Hi.... I usually make dosas on my medium sized iron pan which i love .... Recently i saw lodge 14 inch pan in homegoods n bought it hoping to make really big masala dosas n neyroasts... I read somewhere that castiron pans spread out heat evenly n retains it... So i thought it would work on my avg sized burner.... When i tried it out today the dosas came out okay... Crispier in center n softer on the outer parts :( now im not sure if its becuz the pan is too big for my stove or becuz its the first time im using it...... how do u use ur 14 inch pan to make dosas??? Does it come out crisp??

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  43. hi,
    While making rotis on iron tawa was leaving lot of smoke inside the house inspite of exhaust vent on. Can someone suggest me tips to avoid smoke in the house??

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