Health Benefits of Clay Pot Cooking
Is there room in your kitchen for one more kitchen utensil? Whether there is or not, I'm going to suggest that you make space for a clay pot.
I always wanted to start cooking in a Clay pot for a long time. But after organising an Ayurvedic Cooking course for the Art of Living in Mumbai my wish finally changed into reality. (Ayurveda strongly recommends Clay pot Cooking due to its numerous health benefits). And as luck would have it I met Sheetal Tank on one of the Whatsapp groups who is a fourth generation potter. Her workshop and residence are at Dharavi.
Finally, the day came when I went to meet Sheetal. She very whole-heartedly showed me around and explained the benefits of cooking in clay pots. She very patiently explained the kind of mud she uses, which is totally lead-free. I bought quite a few pots; of different sizes and use - one big pot to make dal, one small to make sabzi and more.
After starting cooking in the clay pot I thought of conducting a cooking session on healthy cooking in clay pots, which is due next month. And hence this article.
Health Benefits of Clay Pot Cooking
1. Foremost health benefits of clay pot cooking come from its ability to circulate steam throughout cooking. This provides plenty of moisture and means that you can cook with less oil and fat.
2. Since Clay is alkaline in nature and when food is cooked it neutralizes the PH balance of food and hence acts as a natural detox. You will be surprised to know that mud contains all the possible vitamins; even Vitamin B12.
3. Slow cooking process retains all the nutrients of the food that we cook and hence the food is much tastier.
4. Reheating the food always leads to loss of nutrition but if you cook in a clay pot it retains the temperature for a longer time and no worries for reheating.
Hence there is no need to transfer it to a casserole.
Seasoning a Clay Pot
If you season your pot properly, it will become durable and likely last for a long time. Without proper seasoning, however, there’s a high risk of the pot cracking. There are a couple of different methods of seasoning. I am discussing the method that Sheetal uses.
Immerse the new Clay pot in a big vessel full of water for 48 hours days, and then scrub off the mud inside the clay pot using a scrubber. Let it dry for few hours. Your pot is ready to be used.
Cleaning The Clay Pot
Because clay is porous, you cannot clean it using soap or normal dishwashing 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. Baking soda can be used to remove the odours especially if you have cooked with onion and garlic. For stubborn stains, take rock salt in a scrub pad and scrub it nicely. Fill the pot with hot water and wait for half hour. Discard the water and wash it again.
A tip would be if you want to use your pots for both savory and sweet dishes and you have the storage space, you might want to invest in two pots so that any absorbed flavors won't affect the taste of your recipe.
For stovetop cooking start on low heat and gradually increase the temperature, usually staying at medium heat or lower. Sudden rise or fall of the temperature make lead to cracking.
Do not place a hot clay pot on a cold or cool surface, as it will crack. So when taking a hot pot out of the oven, always place on a wood/ heat resistant trivet or a towel.
For oven cooking, the oven does not need to be preheated. Instead, place the clay pot in a cold oven and allow the temperature to rise slowly.
If in case your mud pot gets burnt in high flame then it is better to discard the mud pot and go for a new one since the same smell continues with all the further dishes that you prepare with the same pot.
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Article contributed by Paayel Agarwaal