6 Benefits of Clay Pot Cooking you should know
The wonderful fragrance emanating from biryani cooked in a ‘handi’, the thick, creamy probiotic goodness of curd in a ‘matka’, or the strong, invigorating ‘kulhad’ chai; all these have one common factor – they are cooked or made in clay pots or earthenware. Clay pot cooking is rooted in Indian tradition and has existed since ancient times.
This slow cooking process, not only enhances the taste of the food but also retains its nutritional value, was an integral part of our ancestral wisdom.
Over the decades, rapid changes – both societal & environmental, easy availability of newer and fancier cookware, fast-paced urban life, and subsequent lack of time for the maintenance of clay utensils, has led to people preferring modern utensils such as non-stick cookware, ceramic glassware, melamine ware and aluminum over clay pots or earthenware.
However, in recent times, with people becoming more aware of the health hazards of cooking in these ‘modern’ utensils, a new wave of healthy eating has caught on, leading to the revival of the humble clay pot cooking.
Why Clay Pot Cooking?
Modern cooking, although efficient and convenient, can have an adverse impact on the health of people. Prolonged cooking in non-stick cookware, aluminum, and even copper can lead to the metal leaching into the food and being absorbed by the body resulting in the build-up of toxins which is hazardous to health.
In contrast, clay pot cooking in addition to having multiple health benefits is budget-friendly and aesthetically pleasing.
Let’s understand in detail, the benefits of cooking in clay cookware also popularly known as earthen cookware
1. Earthenware cooking preserves nutrients
The slow, consistent circulation of heat & moisture in clay pots cooks the food uniformly enabling the preservation of essential nutrient minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Also, since clay pots are alkaline, when heated it neutralizes the acid content in the food, thus restoring its pH balance.
2. Clay pot cooking Enhances Taste & Aroma
The uniform cooking process in the clay cookware adds a smokey, earthy flavor to the food, leading to an enhanced flavor and a fragrant aroma! The food also remains warm and fresh for longer, hence there is no need for frequent reheating.
An additional advantage that is sure to interest weight-watchers is that, as clay pots retain heat and moisture for longer, they require very little oil or ghee to enhance the flavor of the dish.
Clay utensils can be used in various methods of cooking and storing. Whether on a gas stove, oven, grill, or microwave. It can be used to store drinking water; its porous nature helps to keep the water cool. Food – hot or cold can be served, and it can also be refrigerated.
4. Biodegradable & Sustainable
Clay or earthen utensils are made from natural, non-toxic substances such as terracotta or baked clay; hence it is eco-friendly. Once broken it can be readily discarded as it decomposes without emitting any harmful chemicals that pollute the environment. Alternatively, it can be recycled to create new clay pots and pans for cooking.
5. Pocket Friendly & Accessible
Clay pot utensils are affordable and easily available in the market. It comes in different shapes, sizes, and innovative designs. Usually created with great care and skill by rural artisans, those who choose to purchase clay pots are indirectly empowering these rural folk.
6. Elegant & Good Looking:
Using earthen pots for cooking is not only advantageous but also in vogue now! In sync with the urban preferences, a large variety of innovative designs and types of clay utensils for cooking are available today that have a modern appeal yet retain that earthy ‘rustic’ old world charm.
Food cooked in pure and unglazed clay cookware yields maximum health benefits, while the gorgeously glazed & polished ones are apt for decorative purposes.
Care and attention are required in the maintenance and long-term use of clay pots; from clay pot seasoning before use, to cleaning it with a specific scouring detergent & following the right method when washing and storing.
However, despite the time and effort involved in clay pot cooking, the benefits far outweigh the challenges, making it a worthwhile investment.