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Traditional forms of cooking in earthen cookware makes a comeback |

Traditional forms of cooking in earthen cookware makes a comeback

BENGALURU: Dentist Divya Rani C discovered the joy of cooking traditional recipes in earthen cookware during her visit to Pondicherry. “I sampled food made in them, the taste of which remained with me after I came back to city life,” she says.

Ever since, Divya has bought a few clay vessels that she diligently takes out to cook special meals at home. “We also drink water out of earthen pots,” she says.

Traditionally, Indian households are known to have cooked in earthen pots. But in urban households, paucity of time and maintenance of such vessels have often led people to look for modern options like non-stick cookware, aluminium and steel over clay. The benefits of earthen cookware include the ability of these vessels to absorb moisture due to their porous nature, letting heat circulate slowly through the food being cooked, making it aromatic and retaining the nutrition, providing required minerals that include calcium, magnesium, iron and phosphorus.


“Clay vessels absorb toxins which are neutralised by ultra violet rays of a fire. This is not possible in metal vessels. It’s a scientific process,” says NS Krishnamoorthi, 60, founder of Prems Graama Bhojanam, a city-based restaurant that serves and cooks traditional meals in earthen cookware.

While the benefits are many, using such cookware in daily life is not an easy task. Ruth D’souza Prabhu, a communications professional, has been cooking in earthen cookware for some years now. While she loves the end result her clay pots and pan give her, the process behind making them usable is a time-consuming one, she says.

“Seasoning takes three days. Vessels have to be fully submerged in water, then left out in the sun to dry for a few days, followed by a liberal application of oil,” Prabhu says.

The cooking process involves filling it with water on a low flame, draining it out and then beginning to cook in it. “It’s recommended to never cook on high flame when cooking in earthenware. Also, one should never mix vessels and stick to cooking certain dishes in specific pots,” she adds.

Other challenges include finding earthenware that is made of unpolluted clay. “The number of artisans have dwindled due to low patronage. Also, these vessels can’t stand very high temperatures and crack, which can’t make them long-lasting,” adds Krishnamoorthi.

However, in spite of the challenges, companies are now looking to make such cookware to cash in on the increasing interest on traditional forms of cooking and cookware, says Ganesan Manickavasagam, cofounder, ClayStation, a city-based pottery and design studio. “We have been researching over a year now on foodsafe, high-end clay cookware for companies which are showing interest in building such vessels to cater to this demand,” Manickavasagam adds.

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