Traditional Cooking @ Manas Resorts



Clay, unlike other cookware materials like steel, iron or aluminum, takes a long time to absorb heat. But once it does, it spreads that heat evenly throughout the clay pot body and releases it slowly, to the food cooking within. This REALLY slow cooking allows for the flavors of a dish to build slowly, for spices to penetrate more deeply, and for meats, even the tough cuts, to break down into succulent pieces.

A second advantage comes from the unglazed nature of the clay pot. Because clay is in contact with the food as it cooks, the alkaline clay neutralizes the sour or bitter acids in foods like tomato or vinegar, mellowing it and making it taste a little sweeter. There are generations of anecdotal evidence to support this. Kerala, a southern state in India, is famous for its tamarind-based fish curry, a dish that is always cooked in an unglazed earthen pot, whether at a home or a restaurant. The secret, many say, of the famed fish curry is the magical alchemy of the clay pot itself.

Food cooked in clay pots is better for you

Earthenware pots are the most porous of their better-known counterparts, Stoneware and Porcelain —What that means is they can soak water unlike metal. This porosity is what makes a clay pot absorb moisture from the food cooking within with a lid on top, and circulate it back, to help the food cook in its own juices.

As the heat rises within the confines of the clay pot creating steam, the moisture from the steam condenses on the lid and runs back into the food below, thus ensuring the dish remains moist during cooking and no nutrients are lost. As a result, the eponymous dish cooked within can be prepared with no oil or liquid added, much like being steamed. And because the natural flavor of any food develops more intensely in a clay pot and has more umami, less salt or sugar is required.

The gentle slow heating properties of a clay pot also play a big role in preserving the nutrition inherent in any food.