Transitions can be tricky. Especially in the kitchen, with one of the most important items – the cooktop or the cooking range. Planning to remodel your kitchen or moving into a building that only allows electric cooktops? But all your life you have only used a gas-based cooktop? Don’t worry, we have you covered. Here’s a basic guide to help you choose the cookware that best suits your new cooktop.
In the UAE, three types of cooking ranges are popular - gas stoves, electric cooktops, and induction range. The gas stove uses an open-gas flame, which is visible to the eye and can be adjusted to low or high, depending on the dish being cooked. Whereas, an electric cooking stove has coils that transfer heat to the ceramic surface, which heats the pan or pot. An induction cooktop uses the principle of electromagnetism, which uses magnets to generate and transfer heat.
While most home and professional chefs will tell you they enjoy cooking on gas stoves with an open flame, safety and security requirements in some residential buildings in the UAE do not allow gas cylinders in kitchens.
The choice of cooktop depends largely on one’s cooking style too. “I always prefer to have a specific cooking range for a specific style of cooking. For instance, if I am cooking Indian food, I prefer to use an open gas flame, for Chinese food I prefer to have a high-pressure burner, and for pasta, I go for induction cooktops. But at the end of the day an open gas flame is what I love,” says Chef Thoufeek Zakaria.
So how are these cooktops different? An open-gas stove heats up a utensil quickly as compared to an electric or induction stove. But, the heat distribution on an electric or induction is evenly distributed, that helps save time and energy. Unlike a flame that allows heat to escape into the air, the electric and induction cooktops reduces heat wastage.
It takes longer for water to boil on an open flame gas stove as compared to its counterparts. On an electric cooking range it is almost impossible to leave food unattended even for a few seconds because the pan’s heat would end up burning the food. Once the pot or pan is hot enough, it’s best to start cooking immediately and turn off the heat a few seconds before the cooking time. The heated pan would help the food cook. Alternatively you can also switch the pan to a cooler surface.
One of the pros of cooking on an open flame is that the heat can be controlled with a knob and is also visible to the eye. Which makes it a good choice to roast food or stir fry using a traditional round wok.
Unlike electric or induction cooktops that allow only flat surface cooking utensils.
On an electric cooktop the cooking utensil remains hot for a longer time even when the heat is switched off. However, with induction cooktops that is not the case. The heat is modulated pretty efficiently and cool off time is faster.
The choice of cooktop depends largely on one’s cooking style too. “I always prefer to have specific cooking range for specific style of cooking. For instance if I am cooking Indian food, I prefer to use an open gas flame, for Chinese food I prefer to have a high pressure burner and for pastas I go for induction cooktops. But at the end of the day an open gas flame is what I love,” says Chef Thoufeek Zakaria.
While electric cooktops require flat pan or a flat pot to heat the entire bottom of the pan, a gas flame can do with any shaped cookware. Induction cookware need a thick metal surface, which come with instructions and symbol to mark it being induction friendly. Not all utensils that work on an open-gas flame will work for electric and definitely not on induction cooktops.
How to check if a cookware is safe for induction?
All you need is a magnet. Place a magnet at the bottom or surface of the pan or pot and if it sticks, then the utensil is induction friendly.
Things to keep in mind while making a cooking range transition:
Budget: While this is the foremost concern for many making a conscious transition, it is a long term investment. The technology is expensive, hence the cost and maintenance. Along with it, a whole new cookware range has to be purchased if moving from gas stove to electric or induction cooking range.
Space: Depending on the kitchen space and requirement, whether a two- or four-stove cooktop will do is an important evaluation. Is there a space dedicated to a full cooking range or would it have to be placed on a kitchen slab are important factors to consider.
Electricity: A good and constant supply of energy is essential for an electric and induction based cooking range. Anywhere between 3000 and 5000 watts is good. Housing societies or villas usually have a provision for the space and electric plug points.
How to choose the right cookware:
For an open-gas flame just about any cookware in the market works well, be it a round-shaped wok or flat pan. However, choosing the right cookware for electric cookware can be tricky. It is best to stick to flat bottom surface pans and pots made with cast-iron, stainless steel, non-stick, or Teflon. Furthermore, for a toxic-free cookware range look for the PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic acid) symbol while purchasing.
A cookware that works for induction will typically work for electric and open-gas but the vice-versa is not true. So, look for the induction symbol, check which metal it is and the surface of the cookware (flat for electric and induction) and do the magnet test, if required.
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