Clay pots are a central part of most African cooking, right from storing water, baking, cooking, serving and grinding herbs and spices.
In most Ghanaian homes the clay pot mortar and wooden pestle are used in grinding most things and the mortar works as a bowl for serving most dishes including the ever popular Fufu and Kontomire (Spinach) stew.
A particular favourite of the clay pot is when water is stored in it. A visit to most villages in Ghana includes a welcome drink from the host of a cool, thirst quenching ,slightly smokey flavoured spring water in a calabash.
The clay pot offers a slight smokey taste to most dishes. In a bid to enhance the smoky flavour of my clays pots, I used hard wood from either a fruit or nut tree. This particularly works wonders and permeates the clay pot which then enhances the flavours of most dishes.
The other great thing about cooking with a clay pot is, it traps moisture and heat, distributing them evenly, which in turn cuts cooking time in half and an end result of tender, flavourful dishes. Clay pot cooking doesn't require a lot of juice added to the dish. It slow cooks your ingredients in it's own juices, which then enhances the flavour. Investing in a clay pot is a must have and every household should have one.
Maintaining your clay pot is important. When you receive your clay pot , fill it with water and heat till the water boils. Leave the water to cool down, pour it out and it's ready to use.
After cooking, clean your pot and refrain from letting it stand in water. On a monthly basis place your clay pot in a pre-heated oven of 160*c for about 15 minutes and turn the heat off. Leave it till it's cool in the oven, then rub any clear oil inside the pot and store for another day.