I was presented this mystery pot by the three ladies I cooked for. They found it at a thrift store. It is made of hand-forged aluminum, the kind shaped by a village metal smith in India. It is round bottomed, sturdy, and worn smooth with use and scrubbed to a dull shine. Its smooth surface reminds me of a river rock or a piece or sea glass, shaped by time. The pot has no factory or commercial seal - instead it has a small dotted engraving in the back- a name written in hand script - Rajnikanth V. Patel. I wonder who the owner was? Who would come to a new country carrying a bulky pot in their luggage from their village home? That’s how important it was having the right cooking utensil. Important enough to proudly bear the owner’s name.
Every culture has its defining pots. Whether it is cast iron, aluminum, copper or steel, it is the distinct shape that sets it apart as each pot is designed for a certain style of cooking. Same as a wok. The most common Indian cooking pot is the karahi which is typically cast iron and round bottomed with two ringed metal ears on each side. It is heavy and impractical and impossible to use on a flat stovetop, unless you have a wok ring. But for Indian cooking it is ideal.
My mystery pot is a deep curry pot, used to cook large meals. So far I have cooked Daal, Spiced eggplant and an excellent vindaloo. Because it is deep I have less splatter and clean up. Each dish turned out exceptional. Makes me wonder was the pot, or was it me? I guess I will never know.