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The day after my future Indian parents approved my marriage, they took me to a kitchen shop in Mumbai.
Food is such an important part of Indian culture, and they wanted to make sure I had everything I needed to continue the traditions.
That’s when I was introduced to the extensive choices of stainless steel food storage containers (a.k.a. dubbas).
The more I used these novel kitchen tools, the more I fell in love with their versatility.
I wanted everyone I knew to have a chance to use them. My in-laws were absolutely correct about them being essential kitchen tools.
The problem was. For years, I could not find the handy containers anywhere in the United States so that I could recommend them to my community.
I finally found them!
I’m so happy that I finally found them!
It wasn’t easy, because neither Google, nor Amazon, could comprehend the concept of food storage containers that can also be used to reheat food on the stove.
This is because the concept doesn’t exist here. Apparently the language doesn’t exist either.
I would call them stainless steel containers and my Indian mother-in-law would call it dubba.
I finally learned that they are called “topes” around these parts.
I’m sure my South Indian husband has never heard the word tope in his life – LOL.
Why I love my dubbas
The flexibility of the dubba is of great benefit in the kitchen.
You can store your leftovers in these containers easily using the matching lids, then directly reheat using the same container on the stove.
You can also set these containers inside your instant pot for cooking, reheating, making yogurt, etc.
This saves you using another pot when reheating leftovers.
Another advantage is that these containers are made from hygienic and nontoxic stainless steel. They are easy to clean, and the containers stack for easy storage.
Oh, and did I mention that they come with matching stainless steel lids?
What I have just told you is why these containers are ubiquitous, and an essential part of every Indian kitchen.
Why are Americans missing out?
There is absolutely nothing like this available in the American market that I am aware of.
Well, lucky you, because now that you’ve found Buttered Veg, and this post, you are let in on one of India’s best kept secrets.
What about quality?
In India, topes come in endless shapes and sizes, and quality is measured by the thickness of the steel.
This is important, because as you already know, in a cooking pot, thickness definitely matters.
Well it matters in food storage and reheating containers also.
So know that the containers I’m recommending are of the highest quality, and they will serve you very well.
How to use them
Don’t expect to cook food from scratch in a dubba.
These are not cooking pots.
That’s not what they are for.
These containers are for food storage, saving space while stacking in the cupboard or fridge, and reheating food.
Just remember when reheating to always use low heat, and use extra water to keep things liquid and avoid burning.
Since liquid is key, they are quite excellent for heating liquids, such as milk or tea.
A small drawback
An astute reader might be wondering how one moves a hot pot that doesn’t have a handle.
Yes. This is a challenge, but there are a couple solutions.
In India, there is a metal tool that looks like pliers that is used to lift these containers when they are hot.
Here, we can use oven mitts or a dry tea towel.
We are innovative.
We have solutions.
Which tope to choose?
Once I finally got a positive match on google, I was able to find many tope options, but most of them were uncertain and potentially duds.
We don’t want to take the risk and order an inferior product.
I’ve settled on four excellent options from a reputable brand name that I can recommend with confidence.
Any one of these is a must-buy!
#1 – Induction-friendly choice
My first recommendation is a set of three stainless steel containers made by a reputable brand in India, which is Sumeet.
They come with matching lids, and the Amazon customer reviews confirm that they are of excellent quality.
The sizes are 1.1L, 1.4L, and 1.8L.
If you think in quarts, the two measures are almost the same, so 1.1 liters = 1.06 quarts.
A liter is about 4 cups, so this is a good size for storage of leftovers for 2-4 servings or less of a soup or stew.
This set of sizes will likely be the most versatile for you.
#2 – Elegant shapes & larger sizes
These are the same size as Option 1, but with a slightly different shape. These are by far the most popular on Amazon.
The shape is definitely a little more elegant.
When you click on my link, you’ll see it also offers an option for even larger sizes of 1.75L, 2.4L, and 3.1L, so if you’re looking for big containers, this is your choice.
#3 – Tiny sizes for 1-2 portions
These are good and equivalent quality with the lids, but they are tiny in size.
The measurements are in centimeters. The smallest can fit about 1 1/2 cups of liquid, or 370 ml. The largest can fit 3 and 1/3 cups or 800 ml.
I do like tiny containers for food storage, especially when they have lids!
#4 – Range of tiny to 1.4 liters
Here is a range of 5 topes, from the tiny 1 1/2 -cup size to a maximum of 1.4L.
These also have a beautiful rounded shape. I like this shape for making homemade yogurt in the Instant Pot.