General | Using earthenware

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Cooking pot (haandi), water jug and griddle (tawa)

Sometimes I feel that life moves in a circle. What’s old comes back in a new package and what was new becomes old overnight! Be it fashion, food or the way of life! Take the case of earthen pots and pan..for example!
There was a time when food was cooked only in earthen pots… then came the metallic ones.. from ordinary iron to copper, silver and what not. Technologies advanced and we got our hands on non stick ware and now there are lots of options available only in non stick ware. Come to think of it, our very own cast iron pans have made a fancy comeback and you will see at least one recipe using cast iron skillet on pretty much every food blog out there… not that I am complaining!

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Glasses, mugs, bowls and a cute water bottle!

Coming back to the earthenware, Β though in some parts of India, people use earthenware for their daily cooking, Β the trend is cropping in urban India as well.

I myself have a descent collection of earthenware.. from tawa to a cool water bottle I even have a small set of bowls and glasses…

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What better way to flaunt my collection than to show it to you all.πŸ˜‰
But this is just not a show off.. here are some health benefits of cooking/eating in the earthen pots:

  1. As these pots are porous in nature, storing the water in them lets the heat from water to escape and gives you a naturally cooled water which is an healthier alternative to fridge water. The added benefit is that the minerals from the clay get added to the water you are drinking.
  2. Again, as these pots are porous these are best for slow cooking. Pores allow the heat and moisture to distribute evenly through the dish you are preparing which in turn develops a consistent flavor profile. Next time, try cooking your biryani or daal makhani in an earthen pot and you will notice the difference in texture and taste!
  3. As the clay is alkaline in nature, cooking acidic food in earthenware will help balance the pH level of the food, especially try cooking dishes with tomatoes and tamarind etc. in these pots, your food will surely have a deep taste.
  4. Get the supply of essential minerals like calcium, phosphorus, sulfur, etc.Β  by cooking in the earthen pots.

Apart from the health benefits here are three reasons why you should start using the earthenware:

  1. Compared to all the other cooking devices, earthenware comes in quite cheap.
  2. It makes for a beautiful and elegant display on your dinner table and gives a classy touch to your dinner spread.
  3. Cleaning the earthenware is quite easy, one does not have to use harsh chemicals. Hot water and a good quality dish soap is good enough.

Of course, you will need to take a few precautions while using earthenware:

  1. Never put cold water in a hot earthen pot.
  2. Cool the pot completely before cleaning if you are using room temperature water for cleaning.
  3. Never use metallic cleaning pads or scratchy powders to clean the pot.
  4. Use gentle hand while cleaning.
  5. Rise the temperature slowly when cooking in earthen pots. When needed, use a griddle below the earthen pot, so put the griddle on the stove top, heat it to medium heat and then place the earthen pot.

Go, get yours now! πŸ˜‰

Hope you enjoyed my post about using earthenware for cooking and serving. Please share the word, because sharing is caring!

~Prajakta

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Cooking| Homemade Jams – three ways

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Look at those colors…

Call me a berry maniac…no, please call me one… you will surely call me that after learning the copious amount of berries I have purchased, eaten and preserved and still doing!

During my trip to Mahabaleshwar, a famous hill station near Pune,Β around mid January; I had 2 kgs of strawberries, 250 gms of black raspberries and 500 gms of cape gooseberries… have you heard about the cape gooseberries before? They are awesome.. although not everybody will like the taste. Look how gorgeous they look! Cape gooseberries are not exactly sweet..neither they are tart like strawberries. They taste somewhere between a sweeter yet subtle version of a cherry tomato to pineapple, mango and what not…it is difficult to describe the exact taste.. but they are best!

Again, on my recent trip to Khanderao market here in Vadodara I got 2 kgs of strawberries and 1 kg of mulberries.. mulberry is another awesome stuff.. as a child I used to hog on to those from my neighbour’s tree and now I have to buy them 😦

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Mulberries… painting childhood memories..

Well…now what would you call me? A berry maniac for sure?!

With so many berries sitting prettily around, I wanted to put them to good use. We like jams and what’s better than a homemade jam? So I made three types of jams – a strawberry jam with star anise, a mixed berry jam (strawberry, black raspberries and mulberries) with pure vanilla extract and cape gooseberries jam with rosemary and black pepper. I made two batches of strawberry jam, one in January and second one just a week before. I made cape gooseberries jam also in January but because I knew I wanted to make a post on all my jam endeavors I waited till today when all my jam jars are set and sitting around for a while.

You can use these jams not just on breads for breakfast, but you could add them to your smoothie bowls or top your oatmeal with a spoonful or even make a bruschetta by pairing it with a good cheese (or any other way you want)!

My jam recipes are quite simple, especially with the berries. I usually take 75% less sugar than that of the fruit, however the quantity of sugar depends on how sour or sweet the berries are. I let the fruit and sugar along with a dash of lemon juice sit for a while so that all the juices from fruit are released and then cook till the desired consistency is reached.

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Here is the step-wise procedure~

  1. If using strawberries, cut the strawberries in small pieces. In a big pot made of non-reacting material*, put the fruit and add sugar. Add lemon juice (juice of half a lemon or one depending on the quantity of fruit) and stir gently. Let this mixture sit for about an hour. Add spices of your choice (or simply vanilla extract), if using.
  2. Put a tea saucer in the freezer. We will use this later to check if the jam is done.
  3. Now, start cooking the mixture on medium heat stirring occasionally using a wooden spoon till all the sugar is dissolved and you see bubbles rising on the sides. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking. You will see white foam arising on top, keep removing the foam with a small spoon; these are impurities in the sugar and removing them will give you a clear looking jam also increasing its shelf life.
  4. Keep cooking till you see that the jam is starting to thicken and coats the back of the wooden spoon in a nice layer. Keep the mixture on lowest heat.
  5. Remove the saucer from freezer (from step 2) and put a small drop of jam on it. Return the saucer to the freezer for a minute or so. During this time, it is good if you remove the mixture from heat to avoid over cooking the jam.
  6. Your jam is done if the drop on the saucer wrinkles when pushed with a finger.

Few tips to increase life of your homemade jams –

  1. Always use clean and dry spoon to take out the jam.
  2. Take out the only quantity needed, if you remove more quantity do not put back in the same jar.
  3. Jam made this way stays at room temperature for about 2 months, however I would recommend to keep them in fridge for longer life.
  4. Sterilize the jars for storing jams. If you are not sterilizing the jars, make sure that you transfer the jam only when its completely cooled down.
  5. Use jars with good quality leads which fit nicely and are airtight as can be.

I am sharing the measurements I used to give you an idea of the quantities of jam –

Chunky strawberry jam with star anise:

500 gms strawberries – cleaned and cut into small chunks

375 gms regular sugar

juice of one (1) lemon

2 pinches of Himalayan pink salt (or black salt or regular salt)

2 pieces star anise

Total yield: 526 gms of chunky strawberry jam

Mixed berries jam:

320 gms of mixed berries – 110 gms strawberry + 110 black raspberries + 100 gms mulberries

200 gms regular sugar

juice of half lemon

2 tsp pure vanilla extract (or seeds of 1 small vanilla pod)

Total yield: 337 gms of mixed berries jam

Note: I chopped the strawberries in small pieces. However, I kept raspberries and mulberries whole. At the time of cooking, I kept mashing the fruit with the help of wooden spoon. This way, the jam is not too chunky like strawberry jam but not like the store brought ones. You can feel a texture of the fruits when you eat.

Cape gooseberries jam:

250 gms cape gooseberries cut into very small pieces

175 gms regular sugar

4 to 5 crushed black pepper

2 tsp dried rosemary

Total yield: 220 gms of jam

*Use any pot made with non-reactive material. Non-reactive material could include anodized pots, or very good quality non-stick pots. Never use copper, brass or such metals to cook fruits.

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Feel free to comment, ask questions or share your suggestions. πŸ™‚

Happy cooking~

Prajakta