Stainless steel lends itself to convenience and hygiene for cooking and storing foods at the households as well as in the food processing operations. Its resistance to corrosion or staining when in contact with foods of different pH at ambient as well as high temperatures has literally transformed the kitchens of yesteryear predominated by earthen vessels and utensils made from copper, bronze and other alloys into a 'shiny' and easily manageable cooking place, loved by consumers all over the world. Steel vessels have also undergone some changes with copper clad bottom pieces to achieve better heat transfer. Silver plates, affordable to some were used mainly because of its amenability to cleaning and the oligodynamic properties that protect the food from microbial contamination.
Brass, bronze, iron and pewter were the main materials used for creating cookwares and utensils of different size and shape. The artisans of ancient time were adept in forging, casting and molding cookwares like kadai, degchi, handi, tawa, pauni, thali, katori, laddles, spoons, spatula etc which formed the basic tools of cooking. Ancient Hindus considered copper as a pure metal used extensively for the preparation of ritual containers and food utensils.. As pure copper is difficult to cast, most articles were made through laborious process of heating and hammering followed by chiseling, chafing or lathing. Because of undesirable chemical reactions between the acidic foods and the copper vessels, a coating with tin or nickel was practiced to provide an inert surface. Copper was alloyed with tin or arsenic to create bronze to get harder materials though arsenic use was discontinued because of its toxic nature. Bronze is an alloy of copper and zinc. Pewter is a combination of tin, about 90-95% and copper 1-4% and some time lead. Most of these alloys are better heat conductors, ideal for cooking many traditional foods besides being very sturdy.
Some of the utensils and appliances that are commonly used with brass and bronze include venkalapathram, chattukam, vengala thattu, ottu tumbler, pana, kodam, idli thattu, anda, monda, uruli, seva nazhi, chottu pathram, adukku pathram, cheena chatti, appa chatti, puttu kutti etc almost all of which are to day made with either aluminum or stainless steel. But many traditionalist do not relish foods prepared in utensils made from S S steel and are nostalgic about the traditional tools of cooking used by earlier generations. The art of making utensils from copper and bronze is fast disappearing and few of those still having the skill make a living by making statues, idols and artistic decorative pieces. Many of the traditional cookwares and kitchen articles inherited by the younger generation are adoring their living rooms as antiques!