Stay Warm in Sandali stove & Kotatsu stove

Winter is coming, and we feel bitter cold air slipping into the room through every single gap between window and frame – and even through a peephole. Keeping rooms warm and bright is a vital matter, and people in different regions have invented variety of heating systems to cope with the climate. Interesting thing is that sometimes people come up with the very same idea – like Afghan ‘Sandali’ and ‘Japanese ‘Kotatsu’.


Traditional table-stove ‘Sandali’ is a creative solution. All you need is a low-height table, a blanket to cover the table and manqal, which is put under the table. Manqal is an important part of ‘Sandali’ as it generates the heat. First, the ash of burnt wood is placed on the bottom of bowl, then chunks of charcoal are put on the bed of ash. Charcoals are covered with ash so that the heat lasts longer. Some people use tandoor charcoal, which is usually used for baking naan breads.


(from left to right : manqal, tandoor&naan, chacoarl )

‘Sandali’ is one of the most economical and family-friendly heater. People can gather around it and share nice Afghan cuisine and chai. Large ‘Sandali’ for the whole family is popular and well known, however, there is also a smaller ‘Sandali’ exists for personal use. For smaller ‘Sandali’, use of candles is more common rather than manqal. It is nice to have your own lovely ‘Sandali’ for spending long winter night in solitude, isn’t it?


120118d                                                                                                                 (image by Visual Ioner)

Japanese ‘Kotatsu’ is strikingly similar to ‘Sandali’. Actually, it is difficult to tell which one is which from pictures. Here is the tip to distinguish each – usually images of ‘Sandali’ come with a nice Afghan rugs, and that of ‘Kotatsu’ come with a sleeping cat and mandarin oranges.

Nowadays, charcoal is no longer used. Instead, people use an electric heating attached to the table. Just like people in Afghanistan, it is a place for family gathering, and children and elders like taking a nap there – and occasionally they get a burnt leg (!) Unlike Afghan ‘Sandali’, personal ‘mini-Kotatsu’ is hardly ever seen.

gqK-VGuDYNdXB9YozgBx_kotatsu3                                                                                        (image by Hamamatsu Camera Thushin)


Afghanistan and Japan shares many social norms and values – having conversation over meal is very common and both value sharing time with family and guests around the table. Such customs and values can be nourished by these heart-warming ‘Sandali’ and ‘Kotatsu’!

(November, 2017)

Special thanks to Zaraa, for sharing photos and story.


*for more information about Japanese Kotatsu, see

*for Sandali, see




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s