Is Le Creuset good for Indian cooking…of course it is. In fact, they are perfect. In Indian cooking, for most dishes you need to brown onions and add the spices, then let the food cook slowly at a simmer. Enameled cast iron Dutch ovens are perfect for this as they retain heat so well and deliver it consistently. This means very few hot spots and the food will therefore cook evenly.
I highly recommend Le Creuset cast iron Dutch ovens for Indian cooking but there are plenty of options out there at most budgets for cast iron Dutch ovens.
Is Le Creuset good for Indian cooking – In depth
When people refer to Le Creuset, they are simply referring to the Le Creuset enamel Dutch ovens…cocottes or French oven if you wish. The assumption is that this is a western cooking pan and therefore, by extension suited to western cuisine.
This could not be further from the truth. If you go to India or Pakistan, cast iron cookware is everywhere and it is pretty much the ‘go to’ option for most.
The assumption is that it is expensive and therefore it cannot be affordable. Again, this is not true. Cast iron can be incredibly affordable…and that is evidenced in India. The difference will always come down to quality and brand, yet on a basic level…cast iron is cast iron. The properties will be pretty similar.
What are the characteristics required for Indian cooking?
- Slow simmering heat
- Even heat distribution
- Moisture retention
Le Creuset are perfect for Indian style cooking as they meet many of the characteristics required to cook great dishes.
A key requirement for Indian cooking is the ability to cook at a slow simmering heat. This is important in Indian cooking as it allows the spices and ingredients to infuse. Indian cooking is synonymous with slow cooking that delivers fantastic taste and flavors.
Even heat distribution is a must, especially when cooking Indian food. Heat spots are a real thing and they can spoil what would otherwise be a great dish. Even heat distribution means that your food cooks consistently and evenly meaning that it cooks in a linear way. When it is cooked, you can be assured that it is all cooked.
Versatility is an important aspect of Indian cooking. When we normally talk of one pot cooking, we associate it with French cuisine. However, Indian cooking is notorious for its one pot style. For most curries, the whole dish is made in one pot.
The base of curries in most cases is the same…or at least similar. This involves browning onions, adding ginger and garlic, then adding spices that need ‘burning off’. The second phase involves browning meat and then adding water to let the curry simmer to a close. The whole process is done in one pan.
A Le Creuset Dutch oven is perfect for this as regardless of the phase, it delivers each stage beautifully.
The final phase of a good curry is the simmering phase. This is where the curry cooks at a low heat for at least an hour. The purpose of which is to allow the flavor to infuse. This requires a good close-fitting lid that limits moisture loss. Liquid is recycled within the pan and acts to braise the meats within the pan. This process also means that any vegetables do not ‘dry’ out.
Again, Le Creuset are great for this as they are so beautifully made that the lids are very close fitting.
What sort of Indian cooking is it good for?
- Pilau rice
Pilau and plain rice
When it comes to rice’s, your Le Creuset will deliver fantastic performance. Making pilau rice involves a number of steps starting with browning onions and adding spices. This is where your Le Creuset Dutch oven will perform fantastically. The rice will cook evenly in the liquid and you can place a dish cloth underneath the lid to soak up the final moisture towards the end. Your rice will be fluffy and light at the end.
For those of you that don’t know…biryani’s are pure magic on a plate. Essentially it is spiced rice that usually contains a meat. They are a favorite on the Indian subcontinent for good reason, they are majestic. As a friend of mine repeatedly tells me…’you can’t beat a good biryani’. I think he might just be right.
As with the cooking of rice, a Dutch oven performs in a similar way. The only real difference is that the Dutch oven is essentially cooking a curry first before the rice is cooked in it. Together, the flavors are fused to cook this delicious dish.
It is a staple for over a billion people every day. They are delicious ad there is something for everybody, regardless of your taste buds.
Dutch ovens do a great job at curry as they cook evenly and slowly. Starting with the browning of the onions and burning off the spices, it makes short work of it.
The simmering phase is beautifully delivered and sauce reduction simply involves removing the lid. Leaving the lid on will infuse all the flavors into the dish because they are tight fitting and heavy.
It is a core in Indian cooking…whether it is frying onions or frying samosas. Your Le Creuset Dutch oven is perfect for everything related to this.
Again, it comes down to consistent and even heating that allows you to regulate the temperature and deliver a fantastic frying experience. What is more, the enamel coating is so resilient that it can handle as much frying as you can throw at it.
If you have ever tried tandoori chicken, you will know what an absolute delight it is. Succulent chicken with beautiful spices.
As you expect, A Le Creuset Dutch oven delivers roasting so good, you almost cannot believe how good it is. They are designed…and born to do this. The moisture is recirculated in the pan which means the meats will be moist and succulent.
The other major advantage of using a Dutch oven, you can use tougher cuts of meat. These often tend to be cheaper too but you could never tell at the end. The way the Dutch oven breaks down the collagen means that it will be succulent and flake apart. You could not replicate this using any other cookware.
Can you use a braiser to cook Indian food?
Yes, of course you can. In fact, for curry, it may be beneficial to do that in a Braiser as it has a wider surface area.
The reality is that they are constructed like a Dutch oven except they are shallower and wider. They bring all the benefits of a Dutch oven with their own special benefits.
What is the best pan material when making a curry?
As you can see, I am a huge fan of cast iron and especially Dutch ovens. You would expect me to recommend them but the fact is that the evidence speaks for itself. Cast iron is the perfect material to deliver great results for Indian cooking.
This is the reason why it is so popular in India. Almost every home has cast iron cookware according to some friends of mine.
Aside from the fact that it is great to cook with, it is so robust and durable. Cooking Indian food makes full use of the cast iron. You can only think the damage that would happen to less robust materials.
Obviously, people use lots of other materials to cook Indian food. From stainless steel, aluminum and copper. They are fine to use but the question always becomes what will deliver the best results.
Is it safe to cook with cast iron cookware?
Safety is always paramount and we have seen over the years that some materials have been removed from sale as they were leeching materials that were dangerous into your food.
I am always a little suspicious of nonstick materials, I don’t always trust them. This is why I like enamel cookware. It does not leech into your food and is totally safe to use. With Indian cooking, you are completing lots of different tasks in one pan, knowing that your pan can withstand it means that you can rest easy.
Desirability of Le Creuset
One of the big things I am seeing is the way that Le Creuset has transformed into a lifestyle brand. It is becoming a ‘thing’ to have in the kitchen as a reflection of your lifestyle.
In India itself, Le Creuset are making massive inroads delivering premium cookware. It is highly desired in that part of the world, not only as a reflection of status, but as a function piece of cookware for their kitchen.
Is Le Creuset good for Indian cooking? They are absolutely fantastic.
With Le Creuset, you are buying a premium piece of cookware. They are stunning to look at, perfection in fact. They are not there to look at, they are fantastic functioning cookware designed to be used.
Obviously, Le Creuset is a premium brand, with a price tag to match.
There are lots of other brands available on the market that suit plenty of budgets. Of course, Le Creuset has the desirability factor but other brands offer great products too. Take a look at my article on ‘Best Dutch ovens’, I list some great Dutch ovens that you should consider.
Let me know what you think…have you cooked Indian food in a Dutch oven? How was it different and let us know if you have any tips.