Looking for a healthy way to cook your favourite meals?
Look no further than terracotta cookware, where flavour meets nutrition in the most natural way possible. It’s not just a trendy addition to your kitchen, but also a time-tested method that has been used for centuries. For Keralaites, who see food as more than a basic necessity, terracotta cookware has been an integral part of their culture for centuries. Now it’s gaining popularity in the world of health-conscious cooking.
Terracotta cookware has been used for slow cooking, stewing, and broiling. Its unique ability to retain warmth, moisture, and nutrients makes it a favourite among chefs and health enthusiasts alike. It's not just the nutrients it adds to the food, but also its alkaline nature, which helps maintain the pH level of acidic food. In addition, for women suffering from hormonal imbalances, cooking in earthen cookware can help balance hormones.
Dive into the world of terracotta cookware and see how it could revolutionise your culinary experience.
Benefits of terracotta cookware
Aesthetically pleasing with its natural, earthy tones and textures, terracotta cookware has several benefits that make it a must-have in every kitchen.
One of its greatest advantages is that it retains heat extremely well. Due to its porous nature, it spreads heat throughout the pan, this means your food will be cooked evenly and thoroughly, giving you perfectly cooked dishes every time. This makes it the ideal choice for slow-cooking dishes like stew and curries. Moreover, it’s a natural, non-toxic and chemical-free material that does not leach harmful toxins into your meal. It is a safe option for those who care about the quality of their meal.
The alkaline nature of terracotta counters the acidity in certain foods, further enhancing its aroma and taste. Along with this the terracotta cookware also adds essential nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium and sulphur.
But that’s not all -terracotta cooking pots require less oil than other cookware. This is because it can retain moisture and natural oil present in your food, making it a heart-healthy alternative.
The best part is that terracotta cookware is affordable and easily available all over India. With proper maintenance and care, you can reap its benefits for years but even when it comes to the end of its life, you don't have to worry about hurting the planet as it is compostable. Hence, it is a great choice for those who want to reduce their environmental impact.
How to use terracotta cookware safely
So you've got your hands on some gorgeous terracotta cookware and can't wait to whip up some delicious dishes? Well, hold your horses, because there are some essential things to keep in mind when handling these delicate beauties. Firstly, you need to 'season' the cookware before you use it. This means dissolving it in water overnight and giving it a good scrub with a stiff bristle brush to get rid of any clay or dust particles. Once it's squeaky clean, leave it out to dry in the sun and then give it a generous brush with oil to prevent anything from sticking to it.
Now, the golden rule with terracotta cookware is to go slow and steady. These pots retain heat incredibly well, but they don't take kindly to sudden temperature changes. So always make sure to heat them gradually and avoid exposing them to high temperatures all of a sudden, as this could lead to nasty cracks.
Another thing to keep in mind is to use utensils that are gentle on your precious pots. Metal utensils can be too harsh and could cause them to break. So instead, opt for wooden or soft material utensils to ensure the longevity of your cookware.
Cleaning and maintenance are also crucial when it comes to these babies. After cooking, it's best to avoid using dishwashing liquid, as it can get stuck in the pores of the terracotta and even leave an unpleasant taste in your food. A good scrub with hot water and a scrubber should do the trick. And don't forget to oil your cookware regularly to prevent it from drying out and cracking.
Lastly, remember to always soak your clay pots in water for 20 minutes before cooking to prevent them from cracking due to sudden temperature changes. With these tips in mind, you'll be able to keep your terracotta cookware safe and sound from damage.
Types of terracotta cookware
Types of terracotta cookware
Here are some of the different types of terracotta cookware that will help elevate your culinary creations:
Earthen Pots: These unglazed, porous pots are a classic choice for slow-cooked stews, soups and curries. They are perfect for dishes that require gentle and slow heating. And as a bonus, they add a touch of earthiness to the flavour of the food.
Tagines: Transport yourself to the vibrant markets of Morocco with a tagine. With its distinctive cone-shaped lid, this terracotta cooking pot is designed to retain moisture and ensure perfectly tender, juicy dishes. Think couscous, fragrant stews, rice and beans.
Pizza Stones: Take your pizza-making skills to the next level with a terracotta pizza stone. Not only do they create a crisp crust, but the porous nature of terracotta allows for even cooking and the retention of natural oils from the toppings.
Baking Dishes: From savoury casseroles to sweet desserts, terracotta baking dishes are a versatile addition to any kitchen. The two-part design of a clay baker allows for a crispy top and moist centre for dishes like bread, pudding, and baked vegetables.
Grilling Pans: Bring the flavours of the outdoors in with a terracotta grilling pan. These pans are perfect for cooking meats, vegetables, and fish with minimal oil. The non-deformable forged aluminium base ensures even heat distribution for perfect grilling every time.
Cazuela: Hailing from Spain, cazuela cooking pots are perfect for preparing hearty soups, stews, and casseroles. The glazed finish of the shallow, round pot adds a pop of colour to your kitchen and the ceramic coating ensures easy cleanup.
Micaceous Clay: This unique type of clay has a natural sheen and is often left unglazed to showcase its beauty. Micaceous clay cookware is perfect for slow-cooking and simmering, with the bonus of being a beautiful serving dish for your table.
Indian Clay Pots: Also known as Handi, Matka, and Manchatti, these unglazed clay pots are a staple in Indian kitchens. Their porous nature allows for even cooking and the retention of natural flavours. They are also an economical and eco-friendly option for cooking.
Recipes to try
Kerala fish curry is a delicious and flavorful dish from the Indian state of Kerala that can be made in a terracotta pot. Here is a simple recipe to try:
1 lb fish fillets, cut into pieces
1 cup coconut milk
1 onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 green chilies, chopped
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp red chili powder
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp mustard seeds
Salt to taste
Soak the terracotta pot in water for at least an hour before using it.
Heat oil in the terracotta pot and add mustard seeds. Wait until they start to splutter.
Add onions and sauté until they turn golden brown.
Add ginger and garlic paste and sauté for a few seconds.
Add chopped tomatoes, green chillies, curry leaves, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder, and cumin powder. Mix well and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the fish pieces to the pot and mix gently so that the fish is coated with the spice mixture.
Add coconut milk and salt to taste. Bring the curry to a boil.
Reduce heat and let the curry simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.
Serve hot with steamed rice or bread.
Cooking Kerala fish curry in a terracotta pot adds a unique flavour and aroma to the dish. The pot retains heat well, so the curry stays warm for a longer time. The terracotta pot also imparts a mild earthy flavour to the dish, making it taste even better.
Biryani is a classic South Asian dish that is beloved for its fragrant blend of spices, tender meat or vegetables, and fluffy basmati rice. It is a perfect dish to make in terracotta cookware for an added depth of flavour.
500g basmati rice
500g chicken, cut into small pieces
1 large onion, finely chopped
3-4 green chillies, finely chopped
2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala
Salt to taste
3 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee
2 cups water
A handful of chopped fresh coriander leaves and mint leaves
Soak the basmati rice in water for 30 minutes, then drain and set aside.
Heat oil in a terracotta cookware on low heat, and add onions and green chillies. Sauté until the onions become translucent.
Add the ginger-garlic paste and cook for a few more minutes until the raw smell goes away.
Add the chicken pieces, turmeric powder, chilli powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, garam masala, and salt. Cook for 10-15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
Add the yogurt and mix well, then cook for another 5-10 minutes.
Add the soaked basmati rice and 2 cups of water. Mix well and cover the terracotta cookware with a lid. Cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes, until the rice is cooked and the water has been absorbed.
Once the biriyani is cooked, switch off the heat and let it rest for 10 minutes.
Garnish with chopped fresh coriander leaves and mint leaves, and saffron (if using).
Serve hot and enjoy your delicious biriyani cooked in terracotta cookware!
There's nothing quite like a homemade pizza, especially when cooked on a terracotta pizza stone. The combination of crispy crust, flavorful sauce, and melted cheese will surely make any pizza night a hit.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
Toppings of your choice (mozzarella cheese, sliced vegetables, meats)
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, yeast, and salt. Mix well.
Add lukewarm water and olive oil to the mixture, and knead until you get a smooth and elastic dough.
Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rest for 30 minutes.
Preheat your terracotta pizza stone in the oven at 200°C for 10 minutes.
On a floured surface, roll out the dough into a thin circle.
Spread the pizza sauce evenly on the dough and add your toppings.
Transfer the pizza onto the preheated terracotta pizza stone using a pizza peel or a flat spatula.
Bake the pizza in the oven at 200°C for 10-12 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
Remove the pizza from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving. Enjoy your homemade pizza on a terracotta pizza stone!
Where to buy terracotta cookware
Looking to buy some beautiful terracotta cookware?
There are many options available to you! If you prefer online shopping, check out popular retailers like Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, or IndiaMART. Just be sure to choose a reputable brand and opt for unglazed pieces for the best results. For those who prefer to shop in person, you can visit speciality kitchen stores in your area. Alternatively, you can support local artisans by checking out artisan markets near you, where you can find unique and authentic pieces that are sure to impress. The choice is yours, so happy shopping and happy cooking!
By now, you've got the scoop on the do's and don'ts of using terracotta cookware and the different types to choose from. Not only is it heart-healthy and a great way to balance your food's pH levels, but it also helps retain the moisture and nutrients in your dishes while circulating heat evenly for healthier, more delicious meals. And with a bit of proper seasoning and care, you can enjoy the benefits of terracotta cookware for a long time. So go ahead, switch things up, and say hello to tastier, healthier, and earthier dishes that will make your taste buds sing and keep lifestyle diseases at bay.