The kitchen occupies a special place as the heart of every Indian home. As the place where meals are cooked and shared with love, this space plays a very important part of your family life. And without a doubt, for the home cook in you to be able to dish out flavoursome and tasty dishes, your kitchen must be designed just right!
When designing your kitchen, you must give careful consideration to planning the storage. Indian kitchens present unique challenges when it comes to storage, perhaps because our cooking techniques are very elaborate and the ingredients we use are so varied and complex! These simple kitchen storage ideas are very effective if you’re looking to organise your kitchen spaces in a better way.
1. Spice jars
Indian cuisine is nothing if not spicy. Spice canisters need to be readily accessible right next to the cook top, preferably in open shelves above the hob. Plan for at least half a dozen small bottles that are clearly labelled, so that you don’t need to search whilst in the middle of cooking. Sugar and salt can be in one-kilo containers, while tea and coffee can be in jars of the required size.
2. Large pantry for groceries
We Indian families love to get bargains on our grocery shopping; this may mean that we buy in bulk to get better prices! If you don’t want to end up with a cluttered kitchen, plan for a large pantry with plenty of storage for large quantities of cereals, pulses and ready-to-cook foods.
Create pull-out drawers and trays on heavy-duty channels that can take up to 25 or 50 kilos each. An additional layer of storage for jams and pickle jars can be created on the inside of the pantry shutters, in much the same way as refrigerator doors hold bottles and cartons.
To keep your groceries fresh, make sure to check the best-by dates every couple of months, and use up anything that is getting old!
3. Consider the sizes of your cooking utensils
Most Indian homes have hand-me-down vessels from past generations that need to be stored carefully, like this heavy brass uruli used for cooking payasam during special occasions. Even though vessels like this are not used on a regular basis, they are always brought out during large family gatherings. In fact, die-hard traditionalists insist that food cooked in any other vessel will never taste the same! If you are one among them, then plan for some adjustable shelves that can take heavy loads, in a corner that doesn’t need to be easily accessible.
4. Make clever use of corners
Corner spaces are generally hard to access. Use modular kitchen accessories like three quarter carousel trays or Magic corners, to make use of every inch of storage space and access the farthest corners easily.
5. Set up a coffee corner!
The corner of the countertop in an L shaped kitchen is not easy to access. Use this space to set up your own little coffee corner – Hang some pretty coffee mugs, a cloth to catch spills, your coffee and tea canisters on a hanging glass ledge close to the coffeemaker and you’re all set for your steaming morning cuppa!
6. Tuck away appliances
Indian cooking requires assorted appliances of all shapes and sizes. The mixie is something that no family can do without and usually comes with a set of jars. We also need to find the right place for the mandatory toaster, sandwich maker, juicer, grill and idli-dosa grinder! When you work out the kitchen storage layout, see if these appliances can be planned to be stored on pull-out shelves just below the counter, and add convenient electric sockets close by so that you do not have to lug the appliances across the kitchen in order to use them. Whatever can be kept off the counter should be put away so that your kitchen looks neat at all times.
7. Use wall-mounted shelves
To store items that add aesthetic appeal, like bright pottery and pretty patterned crockery, open shelving is a great idea. Open shelves look less shut-in than closed cabinets and can make your kitchen look more spacious. However, if you’re someone who has trouble keeping things organized, avoid planning for too many open shelves as they can make your kitchen look very unkempt! The kitchen in the picture below uses a pleasing combination of shelves and hangers above the washing area, allowing just-washed dishes to drip dry into the sink below.
8. Compartmentalized drawers are a lifesaver
Shallow drawers with partitions for cutlery and deeper pull-out drawers that are compartmentalised with movable partitions to accommodate different sizes of vessels. These can truly be a lifesaver when it comes to organising your kitchen storage. You’ll never have to search around again -not only will your vessels remain where you have kept them without moving around, but everything will be readily accessible as soon as you need it!
9. Onions, garlic and potatoes
There is virtually no Indian meal that doesn’t use onions, garlic and potatoes; and these are staples that you will find in every kitchen. Create a drawer with wickerwork facing or air vents in the woodwork to store these must-haves, so that they can ‘breathe’. Alternately, a pretty wicker basket with a handle can be hung up in a corner of your kitchen. It will also add some rustic charm to your kitchen décor!
To sum up, plan your kitchen storage to suit your family’s special needs. If you usually do your groceries in bulk, you will need an extra-large pantry. Design shelving according to the sizes of your appliances and the vessels you use. The workflow should be smooth, so keep whatever you use very frequently close to the cooktop. Above all, keep your kitchen well organised and free of clutter and you’ll find that cooking is always a pleasure!