If you have ever tried Handi Dal, Handi Chicken or Handi Biryani you might have noticed the stark difference in their taste. Food cooked in a handi is far tastier than the food cooked in any other type of utensil.
Earthenware has been an integral part of the kitchen since the Indus Valley civilization when people slow-cooked their meals to retain their nutrients and flavours. In today’s time, owing to our busy schedules and hectic lives, and when rapidly switching to instant food items seems like the only viable option, the art of cooking in a handi has lost its importance.
Clay pots or handi, also called surahi, have a number of benefits. Handis not only give an earthy flavour to the food but have also been suggested by Ayurveda as a healthy cooking utensil.
Nisha Chopra, a Delhi-based nutritionist and health coach, said, “Pottery has been used even longer than iron. Grains or beans baked in an earthenware pot have a remarkable flavour. In India especially, crockery pots are used over the fire. Modern pottery, however, is often glazed with compounds that contain lead. If the glaze is red or yellow, those who are acidic, are left to stand in contact with glazed surfaces, it may leach out some of the lead or cadmium and contaminate
Here are some benefits that clay pots offer:
If you wish to cook your food in minimal oil, clay pots are perfect for you. You can cook your food in just a spoon of oil and make it healthy. The slow cooking process of clay pots and their heat resistance feature retains the natural oils of food. Clay pots are also porous in nature which helps the moisture and heat to circulate through the food.
Clay is naturally alkaline in nature. When heated up, clay interacts with the acid present in the food, neutralises the pH levels and makes the food easier to digest. This balancing of the pH levels makes the food much tastier and healthier.
Clay pots keep the nutrients of the food intact which enhances the overall flavour of the meal. It is said that the process of cooking in clay pots adds calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium and sulphur to the food which is quite healthy for the body.
Clay pots are quite inexpensive as compared to other steel and non-stick cooking pots. They are easily available at street shops and come in all shapes and sizes. While buying clay pots, make sure you check them properly for any cracks or holes. You must also avoid glazed clay pots and buy only plain ones. Glazed clay pots are painted with a layer of ceramic paint which can cancel out all the benefits of a clay pot. This can not only be toxic but can also interfere in the cooking process.
Porous in nature
Clay pot's porous nature allows both moisture and heat to circulate through the food, which results in slow yet aromatic food. It also retains the nutrition of the food, which is generally lost in other types of utensils. The thermal inertia in clay pots helps meats stay tender and soft as the muscle proteins denature and collagen breaks down completely.
If you get your hands on them, you wouldn't want to miss the earthy flavours of food and surely never want to go back to other utensils.