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Have you ever tasted Handi Biryani or Handi Chicken? Have you ever thought what lends these dishes such aroma and earthy flavour? If you guessed earthen pots or clay pots, then you are absolutely correct! Though this cooking concept is not new, more and more people are switching over to these pots for cooking. If you wish to know the incredible benefits of cooking food in clay pots, how to do it and many more related aspects, we recommend you read this article.
Benefits of Cooking in Clay Pots
Here are some clay pot cooking health benefits that you should know:
1. Clay Pots Lend a Nice Flavour to Food
Clay pots are made of clay, which is alkaline in nature. This property enables it to interact with the acids in the food while cooking, thus balancing its pH. Not only do they make the food healthier but also lend a nice aroma to it. The food cooked in clay pots becomes rich in various minerals such as iron, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium etc.
2. Clay Pots Retain the Nutritive Value of Food
Clay pots are porous and allow the heat and moisture to circulate evenly during the cooking process. This lets the food retain more nutritive value than food prepared in other kinds of utensils. Also, meat prepared in clay pots remains juicy and tender.
3. Clay Pots Are Healthy for Your Heart
Excess use of oil for cooking is one of the leading causes of weight gain. If you wish to make your meals less oily, then clay pots are one of the best options because they require very less oil for cooking food. These pots take longer to heat and use a slower cooking process, helping to retain the natural moisture and natural oils present in the food.
4. Clay Pots Make Your Dish Aromatic
The actual aroma of the food is retained when cooked in an earthen or clay pot. This happens because of the porous nature of the clay pots and also because it uses a slow cooking process.
5. Clay Pots are Pocket-Friendly
Clay pots are readily available in almost all parts of the country. They come in different shapes and sizes, so you can pick the one best suited to your requirements. Earthen pots are also reasonably priced, enabling you to cook rich food without burning a hole in your pocket.
How To Use Clay Cookware?
Clay or earthen pots are available in glazed and unglazed forms. Where the glazed ones are ready to use, however, you will be required to prepare the unglazed ones before you use them for cooking. If you are wondering how to use earthen pots for cooking, here are some steps you should follow:
1. Preparing Clay Pots Prior to First Use:
- Take the earthen pot and immerse it in water for a couple of hours.
- You can also leave it immersed in a sink filled with water overnight.
- Remove from water and let the pot dry completely.
2. Seasoning Clay Pots:
- Take any vegetable oil and rub it nicely all over the pot.
- Fill the pot up to ¾ level with water and cover with the lid before placing it on your stove at low temperature for 2-3 hours. You can also keep it in your oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit instead.
- Bake the pot for 2 to 3 hours before removing from the heat. Let it cool down before washing. This process hardens the pot, makes it crack resistant and also helps in getting rid of the clay smell.
3. Before Cooking:
- Submerge the clay pot in water for approximately 15 to 20 minutes before cooking food so that the pot absorbs water. The steam released as the pot gets heated slowly helps in preventing the food from drying out while maintaining its natural flavours.
- Ensure proper temperature settings because a sudden increase or decrease in temperature may lead to cracks or breakage. Place the pot in the centre of the oven and let it slowly heat. Always cook food on low or medium heat.
4. While Cooking:
- The ideal cooking temperature should be between 190 degree Celsius and 250 degrees Celsius. Unlike metal cookware, clay pots take longer to heat, therefore, on an average, cook the food for 15 to 20 minutes longer in comparison to your regular pots.
- While cooking food in a clay pot, the temperatures need to be set approximately 40 degrees Celsius higher than your regular cookware. In case, the recipe has a longer duration, it is suggested that you cook on low heat.
- Never add cold water or cold spices while the pot is hot as it may lead to breakage or cracks. If required, add only warm water.
5. Post Cooking:
- Always use oven mittens or any kind of bakers pad to lift the hot pot.
- Place the pot on a mat, wooden surface or kitchen towel. Placing a hot pot on a cold surface may lead to cracks.
- Be careful of hot steam while removing the lid of the pot.
These are some basic steps that would help in making cooking more effortless and easy while using clay pots.
How To Clean Clay Cookware?
Taking care of your clay pot is important too, therefore, follow these simple steps while cleaning your earthen cookware:
- As far as possible, make sure you hand-wash the clay pots and avoid putting them in a dishwasher.
- Immerse the pot in warm water to loosen the bits of food.
- Do not use harsh chemical detergents and avoid excessive scrubbing.
- A mixture of baking soda and water can be applied to the pot for removing the strong smell of certain ingredients.
- If any kind of mould gets formed, put salt or baking soda on a scrub pad and gently remove the mould.
- Boil the pot in water for 20 to 30 minutes to unclog the pores.
- Never use detergent or soap to clean the clay pots. The pores may absorb the soap and lend a soapy flavour and taste to your dishes.
Following are some frequently asked questions about cooking in clay pots:
1. Which Is Better: Glazed or Unglazed Cooking Pots?
Though there are both varieties of pots available in the market, it is recommended to pick up unglazed pots. Because no matter what claims the manufacturers may make, the glazed pots would contain harmful chemicals. These pots emit harmful toxins when they are heated up or during the process of cooking.
2. Can Clay Pots Be Used on a Gas Stove?
Yes, you can use clay pots on your gas stove. However, it is important to keep the temperature under check because extreme temperatures may break the pots. Using a heat diffuser can prevent extreme heat exposure to the clay pot.
3. Are Clay Pots Toxic?
Clay pots are very safe for cooking. To be doubly sure, we recommend picking up unglazed pots rather than semi-glazed or glazed ones as there are chances of toxic emission because of the chemical used for glazing these pots.
4. Can Clay Pots Go in the Fridge?
Yes, you can place a clay pot in your refrigerator but make sure it cools down completely or else it may crack or break.
If you haven’t got hold of a clay pot until now, we suggest getting one and experiencing the goodness of health and flavour that is lacking in usual cookware or utensils.