Traditional Cooking Champions: Earthen Pots, Chulhas, Matkas & more…
Tags: Agritourism, Earthen Cooking Pots, Ecotourism Experience in India, family vacation, Farm Vacation, Farm Weekend Getaways, Farming Country India, India Food Culture, Indian Cuisine Facts, Offbeat Weekend, Rural Culture of India, Rural Travel Experience, The True Culture of India, Traditional Cooking, Traditional Indian Cooking, Traditional Indian Cookware
Have you ever realized that food cooked on the open fire or Chulhas tastes yummier & has better aroma than stove cooked one? Even if it is a simple Bhakri (Bajra /Jowar roti) cooked on Chulha with a dollop of butter, it sets your taste buds tingling & leaves you begging for some more!!
Traditionally Indians have been foodies! Our sheer variety of cuisines across various regions & states is not just exemplary but also hard to find in other countries. But the traditional cookware used in most of these flavourful recipes has more or less remained the same across India.
Interestingly some of the niche Indian foods & their cooking styles date back to 5000 years ago & have pretty much remained the same as cooked by the Indus valley people! In old times, ancient Indian cookware found its way as far as Africa & beyond and was completely absorbed in their traditional cooking ways.
So let us explore some of the traditional champions of Indian cooking:
1. Deep cooking pot/ Curry pot
Earthen cooking pots or deep pots made of cast iron, copper or brass called Kadhai & Handi (Curry pot) were traditionally favored by Indians. The specialty of these pots was their heat bearing capacity for open fire slow cooking, rustic handling & ease of cleaning. A steaming hot pot over open fire surely contained spicy Indian curry full of aromas & flavor!
Traditionally Chulhas made of bricks & clay were small open fire furnaces, perfect for outside cooking. Wooden logs or cow dung cakes were used as the fuel to keep the fire roaring. Incidentally, food cooked on Chulhas is mostly slow cooked which not only enhances its flavor but also lend a rustic bite & charcoal aroma to the preparation.
Before the advent of cast iron girdles or Tawa, Rotis or Maharashtrian favorite ‘Puranpolis’ were traditionally cooked on flat pieces of the earthen pot with holes called as Khapar. Even today in Khandeshi cuisine of Maharashtra, Khapar is widely used to make “Mande” (localized forms of Puranpoli).
4. Clay water pot (Matka/ Maath/ Ghada)
There is no better thirst quencher than a glass of Matka cooled water on a hot summer afternoon! Matka or Ghada are clay pots for carrying & storing water in summers. These are natural refrigerants & keep the water cool even in high temperatures. Water from earthen pots doesn’t just taste great, but also has medicinal value, is alkaline in nature & full of minerals. The study shows that Matka water also improved metabolism.
Unfortunately, owing to the western influence on out cooking utensils, many of us have shifted from cast iron & earthenware to Stainless steels, Teflon & microwave compatible plastics & glass for our cooking.
Over the time we have forgotten the importance of these cooking techniques & the medicinal values that they bring to the table.
For example, food cooked on the open fire in iron Kadhai gets enriched by ferrous ions & helps in improving our haemoglobin levels. The cool water in Matkas never causes a sore throat or cold, is chemical free, naturally purified and enriched with minerals. The slow cooking of meat on open fire not only improves the taste but also makes it easier to digest.
Though these utensils are missing from our modern kitchens, you can experience or use them for cooking at rural Farmstays and Agritourism centers & enjoy the taste of traditional food with a classic flavor to it. Tourists can also buy these cooking champions from local village stores & restore to our traditional cooking techniques.
Finally not to forget the ancient eating utensils, our hands! Traditionally in India, we have stuck to eating with our hands than using forks & spoons. This is also changing in urbanized civilization but is still followed in villages. So why not visit a farm soon to experience the mouth-watering delicacies cooked with traditional techniques and indulge in some finger-licking, delicious but humble meals!