Cooking With Clay Pots – A Kitchen Guide

Clay cooking pots are a traditional method of cooking foods in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

Clay pots are used for many purposes in Indian food, including baking breads or meats on coals placed on top of the pot.

cooking with clay pots

Cooking in clay is healthy because less water evaporates than when using metal utensils, so vitamins and minerals remain in the food rather than being lost to runoff. Heat transfer is even throughout the vessel, so foods cook properly without burning or scorching.

Most Indian dishes take 6-8 hours to reach full flavor, but this long process often steams vegetables into tasteless mush. Cooking over wood fire allows you to use high heat that reduces cooking time while bringing out juices that keep vegetables crisp and full of flavor. 

Foods are often wrapped in leaves or soaked with yogurt before being cooked to further enhance flavor. The clay itself is porous, so foods stay moist and allow the flavor of herbs, spices, and chilies to infuse into them.

Clay pots can be reused for years because they do not corrode over time. Some people believe that clay provides minerals beneficial to health.

Benefits of cooking with clay pots

benefits of clay pot cooking

Clay cooking also reduces cooking fuel costs by 50%, allowing families who could not afford to cook with gas or electricity an affordable method of providing nutritious food for their children.

Clay pots are inexpensive compared with electric appliances or Western-style ceramic cookware, making them accessible for all socioeconomic classes across India because Indian culture includes large extended family.

Clay pots are also useful for serving food. They keep the food hot for a long time, so guests may serve themselves as much as they like without holding up dinner service. The porous clay absorbs flavour from previous meals, which adds richness to each new dish prepared in them. 

When using moist foods such as soupy lentils or stews, you should slightly increase cooking time because the water takes longer to heat through the thick walls of the pot. At high altitudes, where water boils at lower temperatures, cookers can be filled with cold water and brought slowly to a boil over the course of two hours instead of 45 minutes on a stovetop at sea level. 

Also called “handis,” these traditional utensils make a lovely presentation when serving Indian food.

How to use Clay Pots for Cooking

Clay pots are not recommended for reheating foods because the porous clay absorbs moisture which can breed bacteria. Instead, cook your meal in the pot to enjoy it once and let leftovers go into the compost heap or stir-fry them after they’ve cooled off. 

If you wish to eat leftover rice or other grains, use them within two days rather than storing them in the refrigerator where bacteria will multiply rapidly even at low temperatures.

Final thoughts

To make non-stick surfaces on cooking pots, rub the interior with vegetable oil to build up a thin coat of oil over several uses. Empty cooked rice or other foods from your handi and wash it in hot water with strong soap. 

Also, avoid using harsh abrasives which will scratch the pot, making it harder to clean later.

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