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Kerala-based Jesudas Puthumana makes 13 sorts of personalised Japanese kitchen knives


Hankotsu, usuba, nakiri… Jesudas Puthumana of Chendamangalam, Kerala, makes 13 sorts of personalised Japanese kitchen knives

Hankotsu, usuba, nakiri… Jesudas Puthumana of Chendamangalam, Kerala, makes 13 sorts of personalised Japanese kitchen knives

Nirvana 2019, the home Jesudas Puthumana constructed on Valiya Pazhampilly Thuruth — one of many tiny islands that dot the Periyar and make up Chendamangalam, Kochi — appears to be like particularly Marquezian on a rain-drenched day.

Original in such a manner that it looks like an extension of the surroundings, it’s a labour of affection, and a ardour challenge, for which he drew the plan, sourced the fabric, designed the ground tiles and even calculated the angle of the solar’s shade on the roof. He constructed a wood-fired masonry oven for its kitchen, the place he bakes pizza, bread, cake and naan. Jesudas additionally makes artisanal Japanese kitchen knives underneath Urukk Blades. 

He brings out 5 handmade knives, in several levels of completion, and lovingly explains every. To be used within the kitchen and by cooks, the knives are personalised with the identify stamped on one facet of the blade and a novel serial quantity on the opposite. Japanese kitchen knives are various, every with a special goal, for instance, usuba, a conventional knife used for greens and complex reducing, hankotsu, a boning knife, nakiri, a vegetable cleaver for up and down chopping. Jesudas makes 13 sorts of knives, with a alternative of 4 finishes and three sorts of wooden handles.  

Meat cleavers to bread blades

Since March 2022, when he began, he has delivered 45 knives, to a clientele that features cooks Thomas Zachariah of The Locavore, Hussain Shahzad of The Bombay Canteen, and Avin Thaliath, co-founder and director, Lavonne Academy of Baking Science and Pastry Arts.

“I need my knives for use, and cooks who perceive a great knife as a result of it’s their major software,” says the 44-year-old mechanical engineer. The Serbian meat cleaver among the many Japanese kitchen knives proves he’s up for a problem. Subsequent, he plans to make a bread knife for a Mumbai-based baker by adapting a serrated kind of Japanese kitchen knife. 

He forges, sharpens and polishes knives out of Extremely Excessive Carbon (UHC) metal also called software metal for a similar cause as he constructed his home and its wood-fired oven — “the sensation of creating one thing from zero, to construct one thing out of scratch.” Or, if he had been to be ‘conceited’, he jokes, “as a result of I can!”

If he had been to pinpoint what piqued his curiosity in swords/knives, he pegs it on a documentary on Japanese Katana swords. Whereas working for a development firm in Dubai, with entry to a workshop, he made a few knives on a whim.

Steeped in geometry

Nevertheless, a go to to a blacksmith in Palakkad, in early 2022, to get knives custom-made revived his curiosity. “The blacksmith had an order of Japanese-style knives, which he was making whereas I used to be there. It obtained me curious sufficient to return to Kochi and spend a month on homework for the categories, design, and drawings of the primary set of knives. On the following go to, I made the three knives.” Reference materials for the blacksmith was some pictures; on the finish of the keep, he carried dwelling what he noticed and learnt. 

Whereas locally-made knives are cast from Excessive Carbon metal, “the geometry or shapes are random, these are made as per the blacksmith. Japanese knives have a steady custom the place every knife’s geometry has advanced to particular utilization due to which knives with particular names and features exist.”

Jesudas put that information to make use of in March this 12 months when he lastly determined to make the leap, inspired by the response to his first three knives. “I did nothing else however work on them.” The knives may be ordered on his socials, through Fb or Instagram.

He reveals Excel sheets of the knives he has made thus far, he has the specs all the way down to the measurements and weight of every knife. He works with a few native smithies close to his home, hours working with blacksmiths forging and hammering UHC metal blanks into knives. Though he doesn’t work repeatedly, every knife is greater than 15 hours of labor.   

‘Wootz’ in a reputation?

It’s believed that wootz is the anglicised model of the Tamil ukku, derived from uruku used to explain fused or melted metallic in Tamil Sangam Literature. Purported to have been primarily present in Tamil Nadu, Telengana, Karnataka and Sri Lanka, it was exported to historic Europe and Arabia. Jewish retailers are mentioned to have exported iron and metal from south India; Arab traveller Edrisi praised ‘Hinduwani’ (Indian) metal as one of the best. The metal exported was cast into swords in Damascus, therefore the identify Damascus metal.

The handles — rosewood, beech and olive — are made by an artisanal carpenter. The opposite processes are finished by hand in his workspace at dwelling hand wrought by Jesudas: sharpened on a whetstone and polished in his workspace at dwelling. Customisation requests embody dominant hand desire, he costs a small quantity for some requests. He has, nonetheless, not been requested for customisation for a selected hand.

Deal with performance

Gyuto, santoku and bunka are all-purpose knives appropriate for quite a lot of features — reducing/chopping meat, seafood, and greens. The preferred of the lot is gyuto, which accounts for 30% of orders. “Japanese knives have advanced over centuries, and the nuances of knife edge geometry have been streamlined completely. The sting geometry differs from standard Western knives as most of those have a single bevel (sloping floor or edge) and a steeper bevel angle. UHC metal can keep such steep and skinny edges.” Whereas designing the brand, he tapped in on the artist in him. Though in Malayalam, the font, fashion and colors have a distinctly Japanese vibe. 

Listening to him discuss metallurgy and metal, its origin in South India and the way it was taken from right here to different components of the world, one will get the sense of the place his curiosity lies. He jokes about desirous to make urukk metal or Wootz Damascus (Damascus Metal) from iron ore, “Folks will assume I’m loopy!” For now, he needs to maintain it to forging knives. 

The costs of the knives vary from ₹4000 to ₹10,000, @urukkblades on Instagram



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