It’s Time to Start Cooking in Eco-Friendly Cookware
Traditional recipes are passed down through generations by eager kins who want to carry a little piece of their family everywhere, another way to translate these familiar flavours are through cookware. A cookware made of stone, cast iron, soapstone and other such eco-friendly materials can tell you the history and geography of its origin by it’s mere existence. However, it’s presence has started to fade in modern kitchens and are being replaced by cheaper and more ‘convenient’ options such as teflon coated utensils, low grade steel utensils etc.
Have you ever followed an old family recipe to the T and still thought it lacked something? It probably lacks the recommended cookware! Spices blended in with a stone mortar and pestle supersedes the ones grinded in an electric mixer, a traditional fish curry cooked in a teflon pot lacks the earthiness captured by earthen pots. This is mainly because these sustainable materials help trap heat better and possess natural preservative and antibacterial properties.
On the other hand are Teflon coated utensils that are chosen due to their cost effectiveness and easy maintenance. Unfortunately these utensils are linked to several illnesses ranging from flu to cancer. When the coating comes off every few months, for health reasons it must be discarded, hence it’s not light on the environment either.
Replace your Teflon coated with Ceramic coated utensils that use up less oil and are easy to maintain as well. You can go a step further and get cast iron pans or higher grade steel pans and pots. These are all cured well, are non-toxic, and you will help towards keeping the art of making these beautiful utensils alive.
Here is a simple recipe using a cast iron kadai/ pot and a stone mortar and pestle:
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
2 Onions ( medium size)
3-4 Green chillies
50 gms fresh coriander
8-10 Garlic cloves
100 ml cooking oil
2 tbsp red chilli powder
4 tbsp coriander powder
¼ tbsp turmeric powder
1. Roughly grind the garlic, green chillies and coriander on a stone/marble mortar pestle and make coarse paste.
2. Add salt, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and coriander powder to the mortar and pestle then crush to get a fine mixture.
3. Keep the masala (spices) mixture aside, then chop the onions, brinjals, and potatoes roughly into bite-sized pieces.
In the last few steps we have mentioned a technique of pouring cold water on the lid of the cast iron pot while cooking. The reason behind this traditional cooking technique is to avoid the food from getting burnt and sticking to the surface of the pot. The traditional cookware doesn't have a smooth surface like the teflon non-stick cookware, and food can easily stick to it’s rough surface. To avoid this, cold water should be poured on the lid and must be replaced when it gets hot. This ensures that the food doesn’t burn as the cold water condenses the steam coming from the food being cooked and creates moisture in the pot.
For years our ancestors have used plates and bowls made out of sustainable materials like wood, clay and bamboo. The shiny glass and melamine dinner sets might seem like the fancier option but choosing dinnerware made out of sustainable materials option which will do lesser harm to the environment.
Once you’re done devouring this easy-to-make delicacy it’s time to take care of your utensils. Pour some warm water into the cast iron kadai and use minimal soap and scrub the excess away. Make sure you don’t use harsh scrubs, that may remove it’s natural coat. Use some warm oil and coat the pan, after five minutes, wipe it dry. This is called seasoning and it helps maintain a natural non stick coat on the vessel. Make sure the utensil is completely dry, it might tend to rust otherwise.
As for the stone mortar and pestle, use warm water, very little soap to wash off any stains and wipe it dry. Do not use excess soap as it is a porous material and might retain the smell of soap for an elongated period of time.
Now you have the facts, the recipe and a whole lot of motivation to make traditional cookware a part of your everyday kitchen. Pass them down as heirlooms and they will carry on your story more than sitting at home as an ‘ antique’ piece.