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From Woks to Tawas: A Comprehensive List of Asian Pans

Asian cuisine is known for its rich flavours and unique cooking techniques, and one of the critical elements of Asian cooking is the use of specialised cookware. From woks to tawas, Asian pans come in various shapes and sizes, each designed for specific cooking purposes. This article will explore a comprehensive list of Asian pans and their uses.


The wok is perhaps the most well-known and versatile Asian pan. People commonly use these pans in Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese cooking to stir-fry, steam, braise, and deep-fry food. It is a deep, round-bottomed pan typically made of carbon steel, stainless steel, or cast iron. Its shape allows for quick and even heating, and the high sides make it easy to toss and stir ingredients without spilling.


The tawa is a flat, round pan, a common utensil in Indian and Pakistani cooking. It is typically made of cast iron or carbon steel and is used for cooking bread, such as naan and roti, pancakes, and other flatbreads. The tawa is heated over high heat, and the bread is cooked directly on the surface, giving it a crispy texture and charred flavour.


The karahi is a deep, round-bottomed pan standard in Indian and Pakistani cooking. It is typically made of cast iron or stainless steel and is used to simmer and cook curries, stews, and other saucy dishes. The high sides of the karahi make it easy to stir ingredients without spilling, and the round shape allows for even cooking.


The tajine is a clay or ceramic pot with a conical lid, standard in North African cooking. The pot is used to slow-cook stews, soups, and tagines, which are flavourful meat or vegetable dishes with a spicy sauce. The unique shape of the tajine allows for steam to circulate, creating a moist and tender dish.

Hot Pot

The hot pot is a communal cooking pot common in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cuisine. Diners place raw ingredients, such as thinly sliced meat, seafood, and vegetables, into the broth to cook. The hot pot is a fun and interactive dining experience allowing everyone to customise their meal.

Steamer Basket

The steamer basket is a bamboo or metal basket used to steam food, such as dumplings, vegetables, and fish. The basket is placed over a pot of boiling water, and the steam cooks the food, preserving its nutrients and flavours. Steaming is a healthy and flavourful cooking method common in Chinese and Southeast Asian cuisine.

Takoyaki Pan

The takoyaki pan is a small, round pan used to make takoyaki, a famous Japanese snack made of batter and small pieces of octopus. The pan has multiple circular depressions filled with batter and octopus, and the takoyaki is cooked until golden brown and crispy on the outside.

Yakitori Grill

The yakitori grill is a small, portable grill used to cook skewers of meat, vegetables, and seafood. It is a popular tool in Japanese cooking, particularly for making yakitori, skewers of chicken grilled over charcoal and brushed with a sweet and savoury sauce.

Asian cuisine is known for its diversity and unique flavours, and Asian pans play a crucial role in achieving these flavours. Each pan has unique features and cooking purposes, from the wok to the tawa. By understanding the different types of Asian pans and their uses, you can elevate your cooking and create authentic Asian dishes in your kitchen.

Whether stir-frying vegetables in a wok or simmering a curry in a karahi, the right pan can make all the difference in achieving the perfect texture and flavour. So, next time you experiment with Asian cuisine, consider incorporating specialised pans into your cooking repertoire for a truly authentic experience.

Thomas Leishman

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