Have you ever been to Madurai? If you have, you definitely cannot forget the bustling energy this Thoonga Nagaram emits day after day. Marking eternities of our enriching heritage, the majestic Meenakshi Amman temple takes the center stage and watches over a city that dishes out the flakiest of Parottas and the softest Malli Poo Idlis that can take your breath away! But what is it that keeps this city and its flourishing bylanes busy? If you walk around, you will find the answer to this in a community of artisans who fight to keep their ancestral professions alive. One such artisanal community thrives at our Foundry where the senior-most artisan, a 64-year old Muniyan who along with his entrusted team of fellow employees work tirelessly with their hands, from their hearts to bring to your doorstep, our dependable array of cast iron utensils.
At first glance, our Foundry is rustic. The burning furnaces and the melted iron reflect the relentless heat of Madurai as they bring to life warm tones of grey and red. As you observe the work goes on every day, you realize that their everyday tasks bear contrasting perspectives. On one hand, these artisans have quite a laborious day ahead of them. From sparking up the furnace, melting the metal and carrying it over to be molded, they do an immense amount of heavy-lifting. On the other hand, between their laboriousness is the intricate detailing and the impeccable shaping of these vessels that capture their matchless craftsmanship. Every action here is carried out manually and the total absence of automation brings to the table individual and unique pieces of art that go on to play integral roles in the kitchen. Once the utensils are cleaned and shaped perfectly, they are transported to our headquarters in Chennai, where, Tamil Selvi with her able hands seasons each piece while reciting little anecdotes whose essence and positivity lends life to these utensils.
With a potful of cold-pressed sesame oil and a heart full of stories to narrate, a 52-year-old Tamil Selvi sits down with each of our Cast Iron utensils and seasons them dutifully. When she applies layers of oil on the Tawas and Frying Pans each day, she recollects memories she has had whilst handling such traditional utensils. From the sizzle of the first Dosai, she made after getting married to the first time she received compliments from her in-laws on her heavenly potato fry, everyday breezes by, as she affectionately cares for these vessels as she would her loved ones.
Most of us already know the multitude of benefits each Cast Iron vessel brings to the table. From even heat distribution and natural non-sticking tendencies to acting as a natural iron supplement in our meals, a cast-iron utensil is an investment that truly pays you back. But then, have you ever stopped to think that each Cast Iron Tawa is so much more? This is the Tawa using which your grandmother once made you cat-shaped dosais, this is the Tawa that lent immense flavour to your first cooking experiment and this is the Tawa that you used to make your children their favorite Pooris. Tomorrow, you will pass on these heirlooms to the next generation who, just like Tamil Selvi will tell stories of the days when you shared food and love that originated in this humble utensil. As they cook up a storm with it, they will relish the unparalleled flavours you once provided using a Tawa that never let you down. They say cooking is more than just throwing together the right ingredients; We say the act of cooking is like collecting memories and pure Cast Iron vessels are the perfect medium to enable your memories to live on forever.