1. An overview: DO you know what the difference between handi biryani and normal biryani is? Well, it’s of taste and nutritional content. Now you can easily understand why people in olden times used to cook all the meals in clay pots or handi. In the age of glassware and steel ware, the earthenware had lost its identity, but all thanks to the wave of healthy eating, the trend is back with a modern touch (in terms of presentation). Now you can see many urban households using earthen/terracotta crockery on an occasional basis (as it takes longer time to cook food than usual in them). The question is, are these modern earthen pots really healthy? If not, why it is recommended to cook food in earthen pots? Let us explore the mystery.
2. Benefits of cooking in clay pots: From the nutritional perspective to taste, clay pots are well-suited for all types of cooking. Even Ayurveda suggests cooking in clay pots, as it involves the slow cooking process that improves the quality and taste of food and also balances the nutrients. According to Rajdeep Kapoor, executive chef, Sheraton, “The natural insulation properties of clay cause heat and moisture to balance and circulate throughout the pot and keep the nutrients unharmed and prevent the dish from burning.”
3. Healthy for human body: According to Dr. Saras Salil, a physician, “Clay used in making such utensils is alkaline which neutralises the acid content in the food during the cooking process and makes it easier to digest. Also, the food cooked in the earthen pot is high in iron, calcium, magnesium and sulphur content.” He further adds, “One can easily avoid using oil while cooking, as the natural moisture present in the pot is sufficient to cook the food properly.”
4. Alkaline in nature: Clay used in making earthen pots is alkaline in nature and when heated, it interacts with the acid present in the food, and neutralises the pH levels and makes it easy to digest. It also keeps the nutrients like iron, calcium, magnesium, and sulphur intact.
5. Uses less oil one: of the lesser known benefits of cooking in earthen pots is, it uses less oil. The slow cooking process and its heat resistance help retain the food’s natural oils and moisture.
6. Ensures enhanced flavour : The porous nature of clay pots adds to the flavour of the dish by keeping the nutrients intact, which most other types of utensils fail to preserve.
7. Inexpensive and easily available : Easily available at street shops, clay pots are not at all expensive, as compared to other varieties of utensils. They are available in varied forms and sizes to suit all sorts of cooking uses.
8. Why to avoid glazed clay pots: Rajdeep Kapoor recommends, “Glaze is a composition of different chemicals put together to form a ceramic paint which generates toxic fumes when heated. Even if labelled non-toxic, most glazes do contain lead. All properties of clay pots are cancelled out if the pot has been glazed, except its ability to cook food.”