Your Cookware Matters Most
Lets not forget, our cooking medium matters as much as what is being cooked in it
While there’s constant information flowing in about what to eat, how to eat, when to eat, not much is talked about how it should be cooked.
The cookware we use nowadays is a mix of both traditional and modern. Besides reactivity with food and heat conduction, our lifestyle, menu and preference are the main factors affecting our choice of cookware. Commonly used cookware include stainless steel, brass, bronze, aluminium and ones with non-stick(like Teflon) coating, ceramic coated ware, stoneware etc.
- Aluminium Cookware - Most Indian households have been using aluminium cookware(specially pressure cooked, kadhais and pans) for the longest times as it was considered safe, durable , strong, reasonably priced and light weight. However, many may not be aware that aluminium is a highly reactive metal that can cause toxicity when ingested. The longer you keep your food in aluminium vessels, the more rapidly aluminium gets leached into your food. Its reacts strongly with acidic foods, like tomato and tamarind based gravies and curries Vigorous scrubbing and scrapping while washing and cooking also causes the soft metal to wear off and get dissolved in food while cooking. While some aluminium gets in the body from environment, it is effectively detoxed by your kidneys (in the form of faeces, urine), sweat, sebum and semen. A higher accumulation of aluminium in the body is linked with neuro-degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s., Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis. It may also obstruct absorption of vital minerals like iron and calcium and even softening of bones.
- Rising concern regarding aluminium toxicity led to anodisation of cookware with polymers, one of which is the Teflon coating. The polymer coating helps reduce friction and increases heat resistance, and both these qualities make non-stick cookware a hit with users. However one must be careful when using these coated pans. A lacerated surface or overheating may emit harmful compounds. So avoid overheating these pans. Use wooden spatulas instead of metal ones to prevent scratches. Avoid using abrasive sponges to clean the surface.
- The popularity of stainless steel is ubiquitous. It is omnipresent in all households not only as a cooking medium but also dinnerware and for storing food. Stainless steel cookware can withstand high temperature , is scratch and corrosion-resistant, is easy to clean and moderately priced.
- Granite Stone cookware lends a good flavour to the food, and ensures even cooking, but cleaning it can be a challenge. It’s stain resistant and durable. Avoid cleaning this with soap though.
- Cast iron cookware – Helps boost iron content of the food. However, try and avoid cooking sour foods like tomatoes and tamarind in an iron wok. And transfer the food to another pot within an hour after you finish cooking. Cast iron lasts forever and has been part of the indian food wisdom.
- Glass cookware : It’s heat resistant, non-toxic and safe. Can be used for microwave and oven.
- Contrary to the popular belief, ceramic cookware is not made of clay. They are actually made of metal that has been finished in a 100% natural ceramic coating. Ceramic ware should be glazed well, or it can be an unwanted source of lead & cadmium.
- A word of caution for microwaving food. Try and avoid plastic as much as possible.
As Harriet Van Horne says – “ Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.”. Just be careful what you are cooking in… and it will make you both happy & healthy….
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