Weapons and tools have always been an integral part of material culture and history. From sharpened sticks for eating food to machetes that beheaded enemies, crafted objects, especially those crafted in Iron, have been an integral part of human history across cultures and continents. But no country perhaps holds their sharp objects closer than the Japanese. While the sourcing, processes and techniques of cooking are integral to the experience, a true culinary expert would know that the Japanese's love for precise, handcrafted tools is with good reason. For them, there is a function for every knife in their arsenal that is designed for perfection, and professional chefs follow this with all their might.
For those chefs in India who are seeking to invest in quality knives that offer the best results for all your culinary needs, Urukk Blades is a great bet. Based out of Chendamangalam, a small town close to Kochi, a mechanical engineer turned artisan is handcrafting iron billets and making sleek, hand-crafted knives that meet the best of international quality markers. For Jesudas Puthuman, Urukk Blades is a passion project - one where he finds a way to combine Indian tradition, Japanese geometry, and modern engineering.
Of Fusing Cultures and Craftsmanship
Jesudas' journey into the world of bladesmithing began with a fascination for the artistry documented in Japanese traditions. Over the course of time, by drawing inspiration from Kerala's rich blacksmithing heritage and combining it with the precision documented in Japanese techniques, he has created a niche market for his knives, primarily catering to professional chefs. Unlike Japan, where the art of knife making is well-documented and evolved, Kerala's blacksmithing process remained largely undocumented. Urukk Blades was also the founder's way to learn deeper about the blacksmithing tradition in Kerala. Through Urukk Blades, he hopes to create a bridge between these two distinct cultures, offering a unique blend of tradition and precision.
Staying true to the meticulousness of the Japanese Craft of creating knives, Urukk follows a 12-step process to convert raw steel billets into fully functional kitchen knives. Handmade by Jesudas himself, each knife is customisable, tailored for left and right-handed users, and available in various dimensions. They are made from ultra-high carbon steel, a material that, while susceptible to corrosion, rewards those who understand and care for its unique properties and is loved by professionals for its many qualities.
Reviving Tradition with Modern Ingenuity
Jesudas’ passion for Japanese knives led him to revive traditional Indian blacksmithing techniques, infusing them with a modern touch. His commitment to maintaining the generational knowledge of Indian blacksmiths sets Urukk Blades apart. His knives pay homage to India's metallurgical heritage, particularly the famed wootz steel - an import to the international world from India that was called ‘Hinduvani’ Steel that is of superior quality. The brand name ‘Urukk’ is also inspired by the legacy of this high-quality molten metal of Indian origin that the world has loved for centuries.
As a venture, Urukk Blades has found admirers not only among Indian chefs but also globally, despite not having an elaborate website or following big marketing tactics. Chefs in Mumbai, including those of repute such as Chef Hussain Shahzad and Thomas Zacharias among many others, have become fans of these meticulously crafted knives. Jesudas has received orders from as far as the UK and the United States - a testament to the international appeal of Urukk Blades simply by virtue of its quality.
While it may come at a premium price compared to mass-produced knives, the knives from Urukk are more than just kitchen tools; it's an investment for those who take their knives and their food seriously. The blades, with their customizability and durability, promise a shelf-life that spans generations. The process of creating pieces for Urukk involves initial forging, grinding, a second stage of forging with the addition of a unique serial number, heat treatment, and finally, the fixing of the handle. Each knife undergoes a hand-sharpening process using six sets of Whetstones for 2-4 hours, ensuring a razor-sharp edge. The result is that each blade not only meets the highest standards of sharpness but is an investment with enough durability to be passed down through the generations.
Urukk Blades offers a diverse collection of Japanese-style knives, each serving a specific purpose. From the Santoku for all-purpose chopping to the Deba for cutting through fish bones, each knife is a work of art that serves a specific purpose. The handles, made from rosewood, beech, or ebony, add a touch of elegance and is made by expert carpenters under Jesudas’ watchful eyes. In a world where mass production often overshadows craftsmanship, Jesudas is crafting tools for those who appreciate the symphony of precision and tradition in the kitchen that is unique to handmade products, and Urukk Blades is certainly a name worth exploring.
You can learn more about them here.
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