Benefits of cooking in an earthen pot

Looks like it's time to go back to the basics. (Source: Pixabay)

Back in the day, earthenware was a constant in Indian kitchens. Right from storing water to cooking, women managed it all with a single pot or 'handi', as it's called in rural India. And, despite the availability of fancy and expensive cooking utensils, looks like it's time to go back to the basics.

We often see terracotta sets, mostly serving as showpieces, at home decor outlets, but a proper earthen pot is hardly ever put to use in the kitchen. However, it comes with a host of health benefits, since it cooks the food slowly. It also scores over aluminium, as studies point out. "As a result of their frequent use in private households, a study was undertaken to detect migration of this metal to foodstuffs from drink containers, coffee-pots, grill pans and camping cookware made of aluminium. An estimate of the health risk to consumers is calculated, based on the tolerable weekly intake (TWI) specified by the European Food Safety Authority of 1 mg/kg body weight for all groups of people. In some instances, the TWI is significantly exceeded, dependent upon the food contact material and the food itself," read a study 'Migration of aluminium from food contact materials to food—a health risk for consumers?' published in Environmental Sciences Europe journal.

You could also check the weight of aluminium cookware when it's purchased and after a couple of years, and you're likely to spot a marked difference.

"The food cooked in earthen pots are high in iron, calcium, magnesium and sulfur which plays an important role for the well being of a human body.  Cooking in earthen pots is a slow process and involves the use of a minimum amount of oil thereby helping in retaining food’s natural oil and moisture. Beyond being good just for food, unglazed earthen pots hold lots of promise for the environment. Hence, it is highly recommended to use earthen pots while cooking as it has multiple benefits in keeping the body healthy and fit", says Rinki Kumari, Chief Dietician, Fortis Hospital Bangalore.

While it may be difficult to find a pure clay pot, but here are some reasons to include it in your kitchen.

Maintains the nutritive value

Due to slow cooking, clay pots allow moisture and heat to circulate through the food, thus retaining the nutritional level. In metal utensils, this tends to get lost. When cooking meats especially, the thermal inertia helps the muscle proteins denature and collagen break down completely, hence keeping it tender for a longer duration.

Neutralise the pH level

As clay pots are alkaline in nature, it interacts with the acidity in the food, hence neutralising the pH balance and making it healthier.

Cut down oil consumption

As they are heat-resistant and the dish cooks slowly, you can cut down on extra oil, such as vegetables. Earthen pots retain the oil and give moisture to food so you don't add unnecessary fat to make your food tastier.

Adds more nutrients

It is said that clay pots add many important nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium and sulfur to food, which are extremely beneficial to our body.

Add an earthy flavour

The aroma that your food will have after being cooked in an earthen pot is unbeatable.

Economical

Clay pots are affordable and easy on your pocket. Moreover, as the tradition of cooking in clay pots is almost dying, by purchasing one you indirectly help a family financially.