Soap Stone Utensils

Craftsmen : K. Kandaswamy
Soapstone otherwise called as steatite and is softest of all the naturally occurring minerals found on Earth. This is formed by deposits of talc combined with other minerals by a process called metamorphosis. Soap stone also contains minerals magnetite, dolomite, mica, quartz, tremolite and chlorite other than talc.
Craftsmen began sculpting sculptures out of soapstone and they also used the same mineral to create household articles and mainly kitchen utensils. In India the use of soapstone utensils is known even before 3rd century B.C. and are still used for religious purposes in temples and houses. The main advantage of cooking in soapstone utensils is that they are good insulators and they can retain heat for longer compared to other clay or metal utensils. Preparing beans, soups, stews or anything that need to be cooked slowly and for longer period can be cooked in soapstone and the flavor is also retained for longer. The only thing that should be kept in mind while cooking in soapstone is that it should never be heated empty and should never be kept in the refrigerator directly when it is hot. It should be brought to room temperature before it is kept in the refrigerator. Cleaning soapstone utensils are also easy and it doesn’t need heavy scrubbing. It can be washed with detergent and a sponge and washed in mild warm water. Soap Stone/Kalchatty Utensils are manely crafted in Pondicherry and Cudallore in Tamil Nadu. The items made are bowls, mortar and pest vessels for storage, serving dishes and single wick lamps. Utensils designed of soapstone, with a cool smooth texture, are perfectly suited to store buttermilk, curds and milk. In south India there is lot of use of tamarind and the vessels made of soap stone are preferred for cooking.