The first gas stoves were developed as early as the 1820sin UK , but these remained isolated experiments. James Sharp patented a gas stove in Northampton, England in 1826 and opened a gas stove factory in 1836.
The first gas stoves were rather cumbersome, but soon the oven was integrated into the base and the size reduced to fit in better with the rest of the kitchen furniture. In the 1910s, producers started to enamel their gas stoves for easier cleaning. A high-end gas stove called the AGA cooker was invented in 1922 by Swedish Nobel prize winner Gustaf Dalén.
Since then numerous varieties of stoves have evolved and from a simple stove, cooking ranges which include ovens, grills along with burners have emerged. This design evolution has touched the Indian shores too. Presently there’s hardly any typical Indian gas stove that one sees in the market unlike the Chulha, Tandoor etc.
LPG Stoves and cooking ranges in India:
The 1991 National census showed the following distribution of fuel used in Indian household for cooking.
Wood and crop waste: 62%, Animal Dung: 15%, LPG: 7.9%, Kerosene: 7.2%, Coal 3.5%, Charcoal: 0.8%, Miscellaneous: 3.7%
Miscellaneous includes Electric stoves (hot plates), Bio-gas stoves (Gas produced from animal dung).
Early gas /LPG stoves
As times changed, the face of the Indian kitchen changed too. Gas stoves or cooking ranges are favourites in the Indian kitchens .From 'rasoi', Indian kitchens have graduated to ‘modular ‘at least in urban India. Using a cooking range cuts down on space, but it also cuts down on energy use. Also the environmental debate is on top of everyone’s agenda. With most aspects of people’s lives today revolving around aesthetics and effectiveness, it seems only natural to expect the same standards from kitchen appliances too.
Also LPG stoves provide the freedom to stand in the kitchen for the cooking process without the inconvenience of squatting or sitting on the floor to cook meals.
In 1970s, large oil corporations started to produce LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) in cylinders. LPG consists of about 80% butane and 20% propane. When LPG stoves started entering the kitchens in India they have become the most popular stoves in urban India. Piped natural gas facility is now available in most cities which has replaced the LPG cylinders and is truly a better option as supply is continuous and cylinders need not be replaced periodically. The flavour induced by burning wood and Upla(dung cakes ) or kerosene does not exist in the case of LPG which was a tremendous improvement.
Some examples of LPG stoves that one can find in the Indian market are shown below.
Cook tops or stoves & hobs are aesthetically contoured. Most have a stainless steel body which is very easy to clean and remains rust free. Some have 2, 3, 5 Gas burners including one Triple Ring (Wok) Burner suitable for spherical vessels and for faster cooking. The remaining burners have one row of flame. There also exists a large centre distance between the burners. Some stoves have sheet metal ‘Individual Pan Supports’ for convenience during cooking/ cleaning. The design emphasis is on a sturdy yet elegant single body construction. Spring loaded toughened Glass Top Cover is also available as an option in some stoves. There is an option to light these manually with a match or with a multi spark Auto-Ignition.
Various cooking ranges are available in the Indian market. Sunflame , Elba, Glen, Faber Heatkraft are some companies that manufacture gas cooking ranges in India.
Cooking ranges have 4 burners, one mini triple ring, one large and two medium burners. They also have auto ignition for lighting the burners. An oven and grill along with a timer and oven lamp too are provided in a cooking range. The body of it is mostly made of stainless steel.
Shown below are examples of cooking ranges available in India.
Some cooking ranges have other features like automatic or pilot ignition systems with 3, 4, 5 gas burners and an oven with a gas heating system. They can also have a combined oven and grill compartment, different oven capacities. Some also have features like interior light, rotisserie and safety switch. Some have silver-brass or cast iron or enamel burner-caps. Some come with smooth top burners which makes them easy to clean. Some may also have a dish warmer.
Thus the options that are available to a modern consumer are far too superior and varied compared to the humble beginnings of the LPG gas stove.