A tava(h), tawa(h), tapa, saj, or sac is a large, flat or concave or convex disc-shaped frying pan (dripping pan) made from metal, usually sheet iron, cast iron, sheet steel or aluminium. It is used in South, Central, and West Asia, as well as in Caucasus, for cooking a variety of flatbreads and as a frying pan. It also sometimes refers to ceramic frying pan.
In nearly all Indo-Aryan languages such as Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu tawaa means cooking pan and is used in South Asia, including India and Pakistan. It is cognate with the Persian word tāve (تاوه), which is used in Iran, and with the Georgian tapa (ტაფა); while the Turkic name saj (lit. sheet-metal and written saç or sac in Turkish and ṣāj (صاج) in Arabic) is used in Southwest Asia, with overlap in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The word tava is also used in Bosnian, Croatian, Romanian and Turkish and refers to any kind of frying pan. In Bulgaria, flat ceramic сач or сачѐ (sach/sache) are used for table-top cooking of thin slices of vegetables and meat; тава (tava), on the other hand, are metal baking dishes with sides. In Pashto it is more popularly known as Tabakhey (تبخے/طبخی).
Markook being prepared on a saj
A roti being baked on a tava
Gözleme, a filled Turkish bread, being baked on a sac
A tava or saj is used to bake a variety of leavened and unleavened flatbreads and pancakes across the broad region: pita, naan, saj bread, roti, chapati, paratha, dosa, and pesarattu. In Pakistan, especially in rural areas, large convex saj are used to cook several breads at a same time or to make rumali roti.
Meat is also cooked on a saj. The traditional Georgian chicken tapaka is cooked on a tapa.
- Sač, a cooking utensil used in the Balkans with a saj-shaped lid
- Mongolian barbecue, a Taiwanese grill dish sometimes using a saj-like frying pan.
- Comal (cookware), a similar utensil in Mexican cuisine
- F. Steingass, A Comprehensive Persian-English Dictionary, 1930, p.277
- Maxime Rodinson, et al., Medieval Arab cookery, 2001, p. 154
- Hans Wehr, Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic, 1966, p.499
- Suad Joseph, Afsaneh Najmabadi, Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures: Family, body, sexuality and health, 2005, p. 109
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