Dinnerware becomes the favourite of chefs and families to serve food before guests
Chefs say it’s a must-have item in their kitchen and families can’t do without it either: stainless steel dinnerware.
“We always took out Bone china or ceramics for guests and never served them in stainless steel, which we used otherwise on an everyday basis,” says Madhumita Ghosh, 42, who lives in Delhi.
“In the last ten years, however, things have changed. I alternate between La Opala (a tableware brand) and my super stylish stainless steel dinner set now. The first time I took it (stainless steel cutlery) out, the guests were impressed,” says Ghosh, a homemaker.
Chef Nikhil Rastogi from UNOX, an Italian brand in commercial ovens, says stainless steel is his “top choice” for cooking and serving. Steel’s “remarkable attributes include chip resistance, effortless cleaning, efficient heat conductivity, and prolonged heat retention. It is also particularly well-suited for cuisines that require precise heat control and quick temperature changes, such as Asian stir-fries and delicate French sauces,” he says.
Stainless steel utensils were branded as ‘economy’ once but stylish designs, better finishing and marketing have made them ‘premium’. Brands like Vinod Stainless, Arttdinox Indian Art Villa, Shri & Sam and Bhalaria Metal Crafts Pvt Limited have brought respectability to an everyday metal.
“The material not only exemplifies durability against termites but also showcases resilience against fire and cabinets remain noiseless. This is the essence of genuine stainless-steel quality. The demand-driven growth story is twofold – encompassing both urban landscapes and kitchens,” says Rajesh Mohata, chief executive officer (CEO) & executive director, Jindal Lifestyle Ltd, a manufacturer of stainless steel products.
“The demand has been increasing year-on-year for stainless steel utensils,” says Hitendra Bhalaria, managing director of Bhalaria Metal Crafts, a stainless steel utensils manufacturer.
The Indian cookware market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6 per cent between 2021 and 2027, according to 6Wresearch, a marketing consultancy firm. The growing hospitality and tourism sector is expected to increase the demand for cookware and serveware products.
Kitchen utensils and jars should not react with food: that it is one reason to not use plastic containers. Plastics contain chemicals that slowly leach into food. Indian kitchens use copper (tamba) and brass (peetal) for cooking and storage for they are sturdy and good heat conductors, but the metals are easy to tarnish and reactive to acids and salt. Bronze is heavy and strong, but it is brittle and costly. Stainless steel is inert and doesn’t react with food.
“The least leaching is recorded in steel in comparison with others,” says Dr Bhim Pratap Singh, associate professor at department of agriculture and environmental sciences, National Institute of Food Technology in Sonipat. “The safest is iron but difficult to maintain. Stainless steel is both safer and practical.”
The Indian Railways uses stainless steel for its infrastructure. A spokesperson for the national transporter said: “India is a highly corrosion prone country. From the standpoint of longevity stainless steel lasts maximum, some 80 years as against aluminium which lasts 25-40 years.”
Once stainless steel has been stamped, spun or formed into utensil shape, it takes an extremely hard blow to dent it. Its finish won’t corrode or tarnish and the nonporous surface is resistant to wear. “These (steel utensils) are easy to use and clean. The look and finishing is nice too. Even though I spent Rs 2,500 on the dinner set, it is worth the price,” says Anita Ghai, 30, who lives and works in Delhi as an information technology professional.
“There are separate material standards (for making utensils). So anybody making utensils has to adhere to those standards and those should be used. So far all utensils comply with BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards), except for Chinese imports where quality is suspect,” says Rohit Kumar, director of Indian Stainless Steel Development Association, which represents the industry.
Stainless steel is made of iron, chromium and nickel is added for ductility. “Earlier, we were totally dependent on nickel imports. But over the last 20 years, Indians developed some low-nickel stainless steel grades, which are similar in nature to those high performing grades. And that is the reason why stainless steel became acceptable as a mass product,” he says.
Stainless steel has fine lines, so whenever you clean or polish utensils go along with the grain. This will make the surface dazzle and protect it from scratches. Another tip is to keep your stainless steel utensils dry.
“Today, stainless steel cookware has replaced iron, copper and aluminium in a big way owing to its attributes including its strength, high durability, rust proof, low cost of maintenance and easy handling. Stainless steel cookware is safe and effective, although it may be expensive,” says Dr Ishi Khosla, a clinical nutritionist.
|Stainless steel brands||Price (in Rs)|
|ARTTDINOX Designer Dinner Set Heavy Gauge Stainless Steel Mushroom Series | Set of 33 Pcs | Rhythm Series | by Jindal||14,488|
|Indian Art Villa Stainless Steel Dinner Set/Thali Set of 51 Pieces, Dinnerware, Tableware Or Crockery||8,250|
|Shri & Sam Designer Stainless Steel Shagun Laser Bloom Dinner Set, 101 Pieces||4,601|
|ARTTDINOX Designer Stainless Steel Round Lunch & Dinner Set | 1 Each of Thali, Big Katori, Small Katori, Glass, Spoon and Fork | Blue | Carnival Series | by Jindal||3,635|
|Vinod Stainless-Steel Two-Tone Plate, Lunch & Dinner Plate, Set of 6 Pieces, Diameter 29.5 cm, Smokey Grey, Large||3,100|
|Classic Essentials Stainless Steel Virksha Dinner Set with Permanent Laser Engraving Design (Pack of 68 | Shagun Set, Bartan Set | Kitchen Set for Home | Heavy Gauge Steel Dinner Set||3,099|
|Sumeet Stainless Steel Plate – Set Of 6||1,865|
Source: Amazon India