While food replenishes our reserves, the vessel in which it is cooked and served is important, too. According to Radhika Iyer, an entrepreneur and the founder of Raa Foundation and Anahata Organic, yogini, mountaineer and philanthropist, all food has energy, which is why they are called ‘prana’, meaning “life giving force”.
“The material of your vessel affects how fast your food cooks, how it tastes and how healthy it is once it is on your plate,” she says, adding that the two types of vessels to avoid cooking in are aluminum and copper.
Ahead, she lists the vessels that are beneficial to cook in; read on.
1. Earthen pots
“In the history of Indian cuisine, earthen pots are known to be used, not only as a vessel but also as a way to enhance the flavour of the food. They are safe and toxin-free, and bring an earthiness to your food that is incomparable,” says Radhika.
Foods cooked in earthen pots are:
– High in magnesium, iron and calcium.
– You need to use a minimum amount of oil when cooking in an earthen pot. This is instantly good for your health.
– They are environment friendly.
– Maintain the nutritional value of the food. Earthen pots allow for circulation of heat through the food and this helps retain nutrition.
– Adds nutrition to your meal as earthen pots contain iron, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.
Ideal for cooking curries and subzis. Biryani tastes amazing in earthen pots, she says.
2. Stone mortars
They are used to crush raw ingredients and usually make pastes. “This amazing vessel adds so much more flavour to your food than a blender,” she says, recommending granite and pestle mortars, for they “give a rich earthy flavour, making the food taste like it was plucked from the garden and cooked”. Similar to earthen pots, the mortar and pestle preserve the prana in the food and keep it nutrient rich. Some things you can make are tomato chutney, crushed garlic and onion paste, etc.
3. Stainless steel
Steel is a very common and low risk metal. Be careful to select good quality steel for your home as it can be mixed and coated with other materials. Steel allows you to really taste the ingredients in your food, as it is pretty neutral and hygienic during a cook.
– It is highly durable and lasts a long time.
– It is non-reactive to many foods and offers a clean taste.
– It is easy to clean and store.
– It does not have any health risks as long as you maintain it hygienically and use good quality steel.
Iron is ideal for cooking various types of dishes. Some benefits are:
– Iron provides an even cooking temperature due to its heaviness; because of its weight and composition, iron can hold heat for longer than other vessels.
– Iron improves with age. The cooking surface becomes smoother.
– Iron vessels infuse your food with iron. Our body needs iron and this is an easy and extremely effective way to get it.
– The oil picks up more flavour and seasoning in iron pans as it can seep to the surface and continually improve the seasoning.