It’s one technique of cooking that completely brings out the flavour of a dish. Which explains why clay pot cooking isn’t limited to just one region on the map. Dating back to ancient Roman times, clay pot cooking is popular in Europe, Africa, southeast and east Asia.
In India, everyone from Tamilians to Malayalis, Awadhis, Punjabis and Kashmiris, they all have their own form of the cooking technique. Typically used in the villages, this is done using traditional clay pots called chattis to cook on slow fire for a few hours. The food inside cooks in its own juices. The juices are sealed inside the pot till the time it is completely dry and therefore, cooked! Food cooked in a clay pot is not just flavourful, but it is also low fat. So there, one more incentive.
That is why when Zune in Hilton Janakpuri wanted to bring alive that magic in its Indian restaurant, we thought it should be worthwhile travelling all the way to Janakpuri to check out what they have managed to achieve.
‘Clay pot cooking is a technique of cooking food in an unglazed clay pot which has been soaked in water so as to release steam during the cooking process,’ says Mohd Irfan, Chef de cuisine. ‘Typically, an unglazed clay pot is submerged for 15 to 30 minutes to absorb water before cooking, then filled with the food and placed inside an oven. The food inside the clay pot loses little of its moisture because it is surrounded by steam, creating a tender, flavourful dish,’ he adds.
At the restaurant, there was a wide variety of dishes to choose from, both vegetarian and non vegetarian. So one could pick and choose from traditional dishes like Haandi ki bhuni tangdi, Patthar ke palak kebab, Dal paneer ki tikki, Kachchi handi ka saag, Kachhi handi ka Ghee dum murg, Kachchi handi ka hara dhaniya gosht, Dum ki malika e dariya, Ghuti chana dal, Chooza biryani, Dum bhujiya and Pyaz dhaniya ki bhuni gobhi. For desserts, there was Haandi ki kheer and Haandi ka palak halwa. While the idea was interesting, we found some of the dishes to be a little unremarkable. Or may be it just gets better with time!
At: Zune, Hilton New Delhi, Janakpuri District Centre Complex
Phone: 4123 412
Meal for two: Rs 1,600 + taxes