Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Mud pot/Clay pot cooking (Man paanai/Man Chatti samyal)

mud pot cooking-Clay pot




































I had this idea of Clay pot Cooking (mud pot/ Man paanai) for a long time. But due to some reason or other it was getting postponed.

Finally the day came when I with my husband and son went to a pottery shop in the outskirts of the city. "So here we are in the ruins of Harappa to buy a pot", my husband joked. I could literally see a tradition of making pots at its brink of extinction.

The shop looked more like a house and it had a distinct smell of clay. Pots were everywhere around us, even on the top of the roof, some well rounded and some broken.

I took a lot of patience in choosing and analysing each and every pot he showed us. I finally chose a medium sized well rounded unglazed Clay pot.

Advantages of Clay pot Cooking:

1) Clay pot is porous and heat circulate through the pot which retains the aroma and nutrition of food. I tried Keerai kadayal in Clay pot , and can smell the nice aroma and it was delicious as well.

2) The food is cooked slowly and completely and no need to add extra fat or oil. In addition,  this Slow cooking process retains all the nutrients of the food that we cook.

3) You can cook almost anything in it and is even suitable for microwave.

4) The Clay pot retains temperature for a longer time as compared to steel utensils and hence no need to transfer it to casserole.

5) Last but not least, it makes the food tasty comparing to cooking in other utensils.

Health Benefits:


1) Alkaline food is best for our body but in today's fast world we prefer more acidic food which produces toxins. Since Clay is alkaline in nature and when food is cooked it neutralizes the PH balance of food and hence acts as natural detox. 

2)  Cooking in Clay pot is same as the process of steaming and hence retains the nutrition in the food. 

3)  No extra oil is needed for cooking which helps to maintain cholesterol levels.

4) Reheating the food always leads to loss of nutrition but if you cook in clay pot it retains the temperature for a longer time and no worries for reheating.



Method for curing:

1) Boil plenty of water in a container and add a fistful of rice to the water.

2) Once the rice is cooked, strain the rice and keep the left over water.

3) Pour the left over water in mud pot and leave it overnight and discard it the next day.

4) Repeat this procedure next night and continue for a weeks time.

5) on final day, boil water in Clay pot add few dal (split green gram dal or toor dal) and cook for few minutes.

6) Use wooden whipper and whip the dal nicely and discard it.

This method will help to cure and remove mud from the pot and make it ready for cooking.

Apart from the above mentioned method, I have another method used for curing.

1) Immerse and soak the new Clay pot in a big vessel full of water for one day, then scrub off the mud inside the clay pot using a scrubber. Finally, Sun dry it for 4-5 hours. This will help to remove all mud particles.

2) Apply castor oil or any vegetable oil inside and outside the clay pot. Heat this clay pot in low flame or medium flame for  2-3 minutes on a stove top. You will see fumes coming up. Switch off the flame and leave it to cool down. Wash it once and start using the clay pot.

You can choose which ever method that suits you to cure the earthen ware.


Cleaning:

1) Cleaning the Clay pot after cooking is also easy, clean it with a brush or scrub pad and wash it with warm water .

2) Do not use any soap or detergent as the Clay pot is porous and absorbs it and when you cook again it will get into your food.

3) For stubborn stains, take rock salt in scrub pad and scrub it nicely. Fill the pot with hot water and wait for half hour. Discard the water and wash it again.

Precautions while cooking  also while handling the Clay pot:

1) While cooking use wooden spoons or spatulas and avoid metallic ones as it will not scrap the mud off the pot.

2) Clay pot cooking needs more care than normal kadai cooking, since it tends to break or develop cracks if you don't handle it properly.  It is better to place the hot clay pot after cooking on a towel or a holder instead of keeping them on the kitchen slab or wet surface directly to avoid cracks getting developed. Or you might leave it on the burner for some time till it attains room temperature then you can keep in slab.

3) The first dish that you cook in mud pot should be cooked in medium or low flame. If you leave it to get burnt in high flame then the burnt smell gets attached to the pot also will be transferred to all the  further cooking that you make with the pot. 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.

4) The chances of clay pot developing cracks is more if you drop the clay pot down. So it is better to handle the clay pot with utmost care and if you are a first time user better to avoid cooking with clay pot in busy morning routines, instead save it for your leisure cooking.

Will my Clay pot burst if I keep it on Stove top?

This is one of the biggest question rather a concern that arises for first timers. NO, your clay pot will never burst instead it might develop cracks to show the age of clay pot then you need to discard it and buy new one. If you continue using the cracked mud pot then the cracks will widen and will leak the dish over the burner of your stove.


Life of Clay pot:

An interesting fact associated with Clay pot is: In Tamil Nadu villages, a new clay pot is gifted to married daughters by their parents during Pongal festival so that they start their cooking with the new pot on auspicious day. When the next pongal comes, they will discard the old one and start using new ones.

From above, you can very well guess the lifetime of a Clay pot/ man chatti. 

The clay pot's life time will be around 6-12 months then you can discard it and go for new one. Or you can use the clay pot till you can see visible cracks on both inner as well as outer parts. Either of one will apply to decide the life of Clay pot.


Availability:

1) In India, you get to see the road side vendors selling unglazed clay pots in reasonable price.

Another interesting use of mud pot is storing water in it, for which you will get a different pot. Click on thee picture to know more.



Storing water in mudpot













Interested more to know about other traditional cooking methods, try Cooking in cast Iron.

41 comments :

  1. very informative, thanks.

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  2. i am using clay pot from last 4 months .it is a nice and wonderful experience . I have problem of pot getting burned while boiling milk on low flame .Pls guide sac9377@yahoo.com

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    1. Nice Post! Unglazed earthenware made from tested clay is the safest. I've been using this kind of pots for about 2 years now and have replaced most of my metal and ceramic ware with it. They do a great job in my kitchen. Most important is that my pure clay pot is non-toxic, metal and chemical free. The unique steam locker lid seal steam & water soluble nutrients inside to give you the healthiest food. I got it from mecware.US

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    2. Hi Thad, Thanks for visiting my blog. Yes, you are right unglazed earthernware made of pure and tested clay would be a better choice and thanks for sharing your experience with us.

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    3. Yes, I've been using Miriams Earthen Cookware (I got them online)too. love the taste and texture of food cooked in these pots. I am sure the food is so much more nutritious when cooked this way. MEC clay pots are made in the USA...Thanks for the great article!!

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  3. If you are using the same clay pot for gravies and as well as for boiling milk you might face this problem. Try using a clay pot exclusively for boiling milk and please avoid using the same for preparing other food.

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  4. Hi, Thanks for this very useful post. I have been cooking in Miriams Earthen Cookware for some time now. These are handcrafted pots and pans made in the USA from pure and tested clay. I've come to love these pots so much... they look beautiful in my kitchen and cook my food so delicious.
    After searching high and low for unglazed, pure clay pots, i finally found these that were made right here in the USA and they're working great for me. Yes, I am feeling so much more healthier eating food from them.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comments. Yes it is always better to use clay pots made of pure and tested clay. It might be little difficult while we start cooking with clay pot in the beginning as it needs more care but when we eat the food made with clay pot we would love them.

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  5. Thanks for the information.
    I have started using it to prepare dal. Could you please guide me with the complete method of preparation of dal.
    Should I soak dal before preparing or not.
    What time will it take to prepare dal in clay pot.

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  6. Hi SaHiL, thanks for visiting my site. Clay/ mud pot takes more time to cook dal than pressure cooker and approximately around 15-20 mins depends on which dal you are using. It is better to soak the dal before cooking as it saves time. If you are asking for dal recipe as for roti, I will post it soon.

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  7. Hi Harini,

    I bought a clay pot last week for making gravy. I just washed it and then filled the pot with water and bolied it. Then I discarded the boiled water. After this I used it to made fish curry. Immediately after cooking the taste was fine but then I kept the curry in the pot itself. Later after few hours when we tasted it, it was very bad that we could only smell mud in the curry.

    what can i do to avoid this............

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  8. Hi,

    Thanks for visiting my site. I think you haven't done the curing process and that is the reason you could smell mud in the curry. Check "Method for curing" in this post and do the curing process. This will help you.

    Thanks,
    Harini

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  9. Very informative, thanks.
    Similar to food, fruits, I guess it is healthy to buy clay pot from road side vendor in our area rather than buying/importing from different part of country, globe. The climate/environment is different for almost every square km area, hence the composition of clay would also differ. (within the same 1 acre land, the composition of soil varies). So to be as much possible in-sync with my local environment, I prefer pots from local pot-maker/vendor.
    I have been using clay-pots since 2 years. The food acquires incomparable taste.
    Once I had a small talk with a local pot-maker when I visited nearer village, he said potter normally knows about the source of healthy clay in his region.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Nitin, You have given wonderful piece of info, thanks for sharing.

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  10. from where to buy these earthenware cooking utensils

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    Replies
    1. Hi Manu, try to search local pot vendor in your area or try ordering it on-line.

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  11. have anyone tried mittycool cooker

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  12. HI, please can you provide me available address and phone number .

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  13. Where can I buy clay cooking pots from?
    I reside in Mumbai.

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    Replies
    1. Please check with localities as I don't have any info on where these pots are available in Mumbai

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    2. Hi Unknown,
      You can check thesustainableera.com They sell clay cooking pots in Pune region. May be you can source your order from them.

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  14. After using for two months, I found it has crack or what...when I pour oil it oozes out and interact with the flame of the stove. How to avoid this?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Sashi, disposing the cracked pot and get a new one is the only solution.

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  15. ow to know te pot is made of tested ay in India?i reside in Deradun..kindly suggest

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  16. Sir l had purchase one hand I from local pot vendor.It is of red color. From inside some shiny dot are there.I think it is of sand.Lower part also contains sand and clay mix.when we cook some shiny sand also come with food.So is it good to have food in that handi.Is there is any health related problems with sand shiny type of thing .pls advice me

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    Replies
    1. Cooking with mud/clay handi is definitely good for health but you need to do a curing process to remove the sand part before you go about cooking.Kindly check my above post on method of curing and follow the process.

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  17. How about in Hyderabad.. Cooking pots..

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  18. Hi Gayathri, try checking with localites to find the location where you can buy clay pots.

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  19. hi harini,
    I have started to cook in earthen pots. I am facing following problems. please address:
    1) After I cook any curry, lots of oil is absorbed by the pot, next time when i heat my pot all the oil comes out. How to avoid this?? In fact some oil comes out from the bottom (oil becomes blackish) and gets burnt in the flame!
    2) when i boil milk, the bottom gets burnt, and cleaning that is hell of a task. and next day the smell of the pot is horrible. How to get rid of this?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Vevekananda, if you are using a mud pot for doing any curry with lots of oil then avoid using it for cooking other food. Use that pot only for making currys. If it is leaking oil below then it might be possible that your pot has cracks. If you have cracked pot then it is better to dispose it and buy a new one.
      Coming to boiling milk, keep a wooden ladle in milk while boiling in clay pot it might avoid getting burnt at the bottom.

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  20. Hi harini
    I recently bought the clay pots for cooking and cured them as said by you I.e., oil method ,cooked food and now the problem is my pots were smelling oily and it is spoiling the food ..please help

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    Replies
    1. Hi Lakshmi, I hope you might have applied too much of castor oil. Slightly rubbing little oil all over the surface is enough. It is better to use this one for oil based curries only and for the rest of the cooking you can buy a new one. This time try the other method of using rice kanji and see if it works for you.

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  21. Thanks Harini Ji for your valueable information.....need to know can the clay pot be kept in a steamer for cooking...either electric or stainless steel steamer and then put on a gas stove....also what should be the thickness of the clay pot

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    1. Hi, thanks for your comments. It is better to cook the clay pot directly on a stove top, I have even heard that it is safe to use in microwave Owen, never tried it though. Since Clay pot is cooking your food using the steaming process it is not necessary to place it in a steamer for cooking. All clay pot which we use for cooking comes with standard thickness just ensure that you are buying the one that is used for cooking purpose.

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  22. where i get clay cooking pots at reliable price for trading in tamilnadu

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    Replies
    1. Check with Road side vendors who sell clay pot, they will give you in reliable price.

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  23. Can I use the pots in a rice cooker?

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    Replies
    1. Pots will take more time to cook and if you use it in rice cooker, the cooking will be even more slower. It is better to cook it directly instead of using it in a rice cooker

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