Think of your grandmother’s cooking. Think of her maize and beans in an earthen pot that, without any spices or additives just has that real taste of food. Think of how when you were little you kept grabbing handfuls of the maize and beans and popping them into your mouth in enjoyment straight from the pot, hoping of course that your grandma didn’t catch you! (ok disclaimer here, you would need to be of a certain generation to relate to this story, but the rest of you…. Just imagine it )
Whether you call it Isyo, Githeri, Nyoyo, Amenjera or Muthere – or any other exciting African name…… there’s a big difference between the meal cooked in the earthen pot and that cooked in the regular ‘sufuria’ on the modern stove. So what makes cooking in these pots so different and what makes the food so authentically African?
There are very many theories around why pot cooked food brings out the true taste of food and that our ancestors who cooked in clay pots were onto something that modernity has failed to latch onto. It is said that clay pots have natural insulation properties. This means that heat does not escape easily and that the food cooked in these pots are allowed to really fully cook and have their natural flavours kept within the pot environment without escaping. It is believed that the modern Crock Pot is designed around this very concept. To slow cook and maintain a relatively low temperature allowing for an all-round and balanced effect.
It is also said that the clay pot is a natural steaming vessel. Because moisture is maintained within, the food is steamed and steamed inside the pot ensuring the nutritious elements and benefits do not escape and get lost as happens when food is boiled, leaving only the physical properties. The steam with all its nutrients circulates within the pot and remains in the dish that is being cooked.
It is also important to note that most food cooked in pots is not fried or deep fried. A pot is generally not a frying vessel. This makes pot cooked food a much healthier option, especially with the growing concern about foods high in cholesterol and unhealthy oil and fat.
Food left in the pot also remains hot for a significant period of time, eliminating the need to keep reheating it or warming it in the microwave ahead of service.
So there you have it – beautiful reasons why you need to either unearth your earthen ware pot that you have not been using, or go out and buy yourself beautiful cooking pots to enhance your cooking and eating experience.