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Return of the Metals: Copper, Brass & Bronze in the Kitchen

Being in India for Holi is one of the most memorable time for me. On a visit to a friend’s home, scrumptious food was served in the most beautiful bronze and copper bowls and platters. It took me back to my grandparents’ home which was strewn with the best looking kitchen ware made from metals such as brass,  bronze aka ‘kansa’ ‘thalis’, spoons and various dishes.  Eating and drinking from copper and brass was the norm back then…wonder, when steel, bone-china, plastic, stoneware and glass took over our kitchens? Well, we do know that all this happened when the British took over from the Peshwas!!

Now, skip a few decades and there suddenly seems to be much talk about bringing copper and brass back into the kitchens. Do you know why that is…those metals aren’t just beautiful but are empowered with properties to heal our bodies too. From the very chic antique french copper ones to the traditional brass, copper and bronze Indian cookware, you’re likely to find a few pieces surely in most kitchens. You want some too in your home? Here’s where you can get them:

Baarique

They create utensils into the most unique pieces of art. All handmade and adorned with art work by hand. Have a peep:

The anti-inflammatory and anti-septic Kansa, handpainted by Baarique. Sold by Baarique

Handpainting takes these bronze and brass platters to another level of gorgeousness. Sold by Baarique

Studio Coppre

This company was created to breathe new life into our heritage.  Coppre is all about craftspeople who beat metal sheets, mainly of copper, into products that not just look beautiful but have a goodness quotient too. Have a look into their world:

Beaten metal looks stunning – a place in your home for these copper and brass beauties? Sold by: Coppre

metal traditional beaten kitchen handmade

Shiny, beaten copper? Can you resist? Sold by: Coppre

Gaatha
brass metal handmade traditional kitchen

Brass in your kitchen will remind you of your grandparents ; Sold by Gaatha

brass dinner handmade containers serving metal

Visualise steaming hot chapatis, rice and daal in each of these…hungry? Sold by: Gaatha

A little bit about the metals that are making a comeback to our kitchens:

Bronze aka ‘Kansa’

‘Kansa’ is an alloy of copper and tin.  It retains heat well and was popular in the kitchen.  To ensure that food stored is safe, the insides of the dish is coated with a layer of tin (the process is referred to as ‘kalai’. Remember the ‘kalaiwaala’ that did the rounds around your home?).  Ayurveda recommends that for the purposes of good health, food should be consumed in ‘Kansa’ ‘thalis’ aka plates.

Brass aka ‘Peetal’

An alloy of copper and zinc, it was used across homes. From kitchenware, prayer ornaments to decorative vases, it was seen everywhere.

Copper aka ‘Tamba’

Copper is one of the basic elements with a symbol ‘Cu’. In its nearly pure state, copper is a reddish-orange metal known for its high thermal and electrical conductivity. It is also known to kill harmful bacteria and viruses. It is known to be an antioxidant and anticarcinogenic agent,  which helps in slowing down the aging process by preventing cell damage. That is enough reason to have some copper in the home!

Health talk around the use of these metals

While copper, brass and bronze have been recommended highly by the practitioners of Ayurveda for all their amazing health benefits, I must point out that there has always been talk about the issues when acidic foods come in contact with either copper or brass as it tends to make the food rather harmful for consumption. Hence, the need for ‘kalai’ or coating of a layer of tin regularly.

I recently read about the old utensils museum in Ahmedabad called the Vechaar, and what a collection! It will leave you spell bound. The ancient utensils are a visual treat.

A glimpse into the collection of the Veechar Utensils Museum in Ahmedabad. Image: Vechaar Museum

Some more spectacular brass and bronze old utensils from the museum; Image: Veechar Museum

When you start to use copper, brass and bronze kitchenware, you just won’t be just supporting the artisans who create it but bringing back the goodness of Ayurveda and its health benefits. I read an interesting piece in Gaatha: here is an excerpt:

“कांस्यम् बुद्धिवर्धकम् “meaning – eating in Bronze utensils enhances Intellect. Popularly known as ‘Kaansa’ in India, one can see many mentions of the metal in Ayurvada. Rajtarangini and Bhavprakasha are two such granthas. And our deeply rooted societies took up these learnings and implemented them in their living. While the Royals ate in the Gold utensils, the Ministers in Silver, Bronze was the metal of the masses. And those who could not afford metal ate on dried sal/banana leaves. But never was Iron or steel considered for eating purposes.

Bring back the goodness of the old times and merge it with the new…enjoy being Notjustashopper!

Shilpa xx

Cover: Baarique, Pinterest