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Cooking in mud pots has been there for hundreds of years. Delicious pongal immediately comes to the mind when we think of cooking in mud pots. The sun’s warmth only aided in the cooking in open spaces that happens during Pongal festival.
Aromatic fish curries and biryanis cooked in mud pots are mouth watering. Water stored in mud pots become naturally cool and quench thirst during summer. Tandoors are made of clay, not metals, because when the food is cooked slow, it gets marinated better.
In today’s busy schedules, we either binge on junk foods or quickly cook our food on stoves and metal pots and pans. Cooking in mud pots is slower initially but the heat is retained over longer period. Make sure to buy authentic cooking pots. Don’t get distracted by the appearance. Unglazed earthen pots are harmless and benefit our health as they secure sensitive nutrients and maintain pH balance due to alkalinity in the clay. As clay pots are alkaline in nature, it interacts with the acidity in the food, hence neutralising the pH and making it healthier.
Unglazed earthen pots are harmless and benefit our health as they secure sensitive nutrients and maintain pH balance due to alkalinity in the clay
Due to slow cooking, clay pots allow steam to circulate through the food, thus providing plenty of moisture and allowing food to be cooked with less oil or fat. Thus this slow cooking process retains all the nutrients of the food that we cook and hence the food is much tastier.
Studies explain that during cooking of meats, the steam helps it to stay moist and tender. A clay pot can cook delicious whole chicken, pork chops, corned beef, pot roasts, and other slow-cooked meals. Meats will come out juicy and flavorful.
Compared to the slower cooking in mud pots, cooking in metal utensils can destroy the sensitive food nutrients. In addition, the leaching of metal (for eg. aluminium) from these utensils into the cooked food can cause eating disorders and alter the taste, too.
Reheating the food always leads to loss of nutrition but the clay pot retains the temperature for a longer time and minimizes the need for reheating. Rest assured there is no need to transfer the food to a casserole..
The renowned Master chef Sanjeev Kapoor has highlighted the numerous benefits of clay pot cooking in his various TV programmes.
Tips for using the clay pots: Don’t buy glazed clay pots. Make sure to season your pots so that it will become durable and last for a long time. The unglazed clay pots and pans will require seasoning from time to time. Either you can get a new one or if you want to keep the existing one, you can soak it in clean water for 3-4 hours, and after drying the pot, rub it with garlic and then spread some olive oil all over the earthenware.
Since clay is porous, avoid cleaning a clay pot using soap or normal dish washing detergent.
Once the pot or the pan is oiled up, fill it with water, place it in the middle rack of the oven (cold/non-pre heated) and crank up the temperature to 225 degrees for 2-3 hours. You can also heat up on a stove.
During cooking in mud pots, avoid extreme temperature changes quickly or else the pot can crack. Hence, you need to raise the temperature gradually.
Washing of the clay is a problem for some. Since clay is porous, avoid cleaning a clay pot using soap or normal dish washing detergent. The soap will soak into the clay and end up leaching into the next meal you cook in the pot. Instead, you need to clean a clay pot using hot water and a stiff brush. In the worst case scenario, if you are still left with stains, pour some hot water and add 2-3 tablespoons of baking soda to it and let it stay overnight. The next morning the food remains will come off easily. When the pot is new, strongly flavored dishes (such as seafood or curries) may seep into the pot and end up changing the flavor of the next dish. This problem will diminish the more you use the pot.
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