What is a Tawa?
A Tawa – also know as a Tava, saj, or tapa – is the name for a cooking pan similar in appearance to a wok. They are commonly used across Asia, but can also be found in the cuisine of the Balkans and even the Caribbean.
The name is derived from a number of words in Indo-Aryan languages that mean ‘cooking pan’. Although, as we’re sure you’ll agree, it sounds less impressive in translation!
As you might expect, you can use a Tawa to cook dishes such as stir fry, moving the vegetables or meat around the pan with a vigorous motion. What is unusual about Tawas, and in our opinion, something that makes them highly versatile and fun to use, is that the pan can be inverted and used upside down too. In this way, an inverted Tawa can be used to make delicious bread, such as flatbreads or chapattis.
Tawas are more than just pans, however. In many families across Asia, a well-made and well cared-for tawa is a family heirloom, used to feed loved ones for many generations.
Read on to learn more about the uses for these wonderful pans, how they are made, and how to care for them.
What can I cook in a Tawa?
The Tawa’s similarity to a wok means that you can certainly use one to stir fry vegetables, as you might expect. However, the pan is also great for cooking meat, which can be done in a few different ways.
One way to cook meat in a Tawa is to fry small, boneless cubes of meat in heated oil, using metal tongs to scrape the meat around in the pan. Marinate the meat in spices first for a wonderful, full flavour.
The other method of cooking meat with a Tawa is to ‘roast’ it in the pan. If cooking chicken, the bird is spatchcocked and then flattened against the sides of the pan on a low heat.
Bread, particularly unleavened bread like flatbreads or chapatis, are often cooked using a Tawa. Here's a simple recipe for making chapattis using a Tawa:
Tawa Chapatis (makes 8 chapatis)
250g plain flour
1 tbsp vegetable oil
pinch of salt
Mix together the flour and the salt in a bowl, then stir in the water to create a soft dough. Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and pliable. Divide and roll the pieces into little balls.
If using a concave Tawa, invert the pan over your heat source. If using a flat Tawa, simply heat the pan until hot.
Roll out the balls of dough nice and thin. When the Tawa begins to smoke, slap the chapatis onto the heated surface one by one until they are brown on each side. It shouldn’t take long to cook the bread on each side – probably less than half a minute.
What are Tawas made from?
The classic, heirloom Tawa pan is made from heavy cast black iron. Durable and solid, these pans can last for a long time if looked after well.
We also sell a huge range of different sized Tawas to suit any size kitchen or expected use. For example, we sell the classic concave Tawa in sizes 16” to 30”, with some sizes in between available without handles. We sell square, stainless steel Tawas in sizes 10” to 24”, and flatter, non-stick Tawas in a range of different diameters with handles similar to a frying pan.
How do I season a Tawa?
If you purchase a classic, cast iron Tawa, it’s important you prepare the pan before using it for the first time. This is known as ‘seasoning’ your Tawa, and it’s a vital step in caring for your new pan.
The first thing you’ll need to do is wash off the protective coating your pan will arrive with. Dry the pan with a towel, then apply a thin layer of oil with a cloth. After that, sit the pan on a heat source and burn off the oil. Let the pan cool and it’s ready to use!
The important thing to remember about caring for a Tawa is to not use washing up liquid to clean the pan. Instead, use hot water only and scrub with a non-abrasive sponge.
Browse our fantastic range of Tawas today on Cooksmill, and you'll fall in love with this piece of cookware too!
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