Utilitarian stoneware of the highest excellence is made in Salem district and in the region between Pondicherry and Cudallore in Tamil Nadu. The items made are vessels for storage, serving dishes, mortar and pestle, bowls and ornamented single-wick lamps. These items are made with the use of hammer and chisel and are turned on the lathe. Utensils made of soapstone, which is a soft light gray colour with a cool smooth texture, are perfectly suited to store buttermilk, milk and curds. It is also the preferred vessel for cooking food that uses tamarind and lime.
One such continuing tradition is practiced in the small village of Thandankoundanpalayam in Tamil Nadu. Here the locally available pale grey soapstone cookware, the kalchatti is crafted in shapes that suit the traditional food preparations of the region. The soapstone known for its hot and cold insulative properties remains the ideal choice for storing the staple diet of buttermilk, yogurt and milk in the hot months of the year. Additionally the kalchatti is considered the best cookware for the fiery local curries spiced with tamarind and lime that need a slow long cook to release flavors.