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Updated: December 23, 2012 16:26 IST

Pot luck

Osama Jalali
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Seasonal spread: Chong Qing's Claypot Chicken.
Seasonal spread: Chong Qing's Claypot Chicken.

Clay pot cooking is both healthy and delicious

The festive season in Delhi ushers in a wave of food promotions, and I decided to check out the Clay Pot promotion at The Pan Asian restaurant of Welcome Hotel Sheraton, New Delhi District Centre, Saket. The week long promotion ended December 23. I was greeted by Chef Lambert Chiang who explained to me the basics of clay pot cooking. Basically it’s a technique in which food is cooked in an unglazed clay pot which has been submerged for 15 to 30 minutes to absorb water before cooking. Then the pot is filled with the food and placed in an oven. The walls of the pot help to diffuse the heat and release the water as steam. Because no oil needs to be added while cooking, food cooked in clay pot is low in fat and healthy. Since the food inside loses little of its moisture, it is tender and flavourful.

After all the theory, it was time for some practical work —tasting. Since clay pot cooking takes time, the chef served me the miso soup and the raw papaya salad in the mean while. The soup was served piping hot with a lid. Nice, well seasoned soup, but the accompanying salad was tastier and healthier. I always love tangy cold, raw papaya and it was spiced to perfection too. As it took an hour for my clay pot delicacies to arrive I tried some of the signature dishes from the a la carte menu. Garlic prawns and chicken tempura seemed tempting. The prawns were delicious, perfectly crisp and subtly flavoured with garlic. The chicken was juicy and had a light golden crust.

But this visit was after all about the clay pot. In came three hot clay pots, and as soon as they were opened, I was delighted to be engulfed by aromatic steam. There was Five Spiced Lamb Shanks and Stewed Prawns with Glass noodles along with steamed rice and vegetarian noodles. Being a meat lover I started with lamb. It was tender to the core. The chef was right about that — while cooking, the steam in the clay pot makes the meat tender to its core.

Infused with the spices, it turned out to be a nice flavourful dish to be enjoyed with steamed rice.

The glass noodle stewed prawns were even juicier. I liked the dark brown version of the glass noodles.

After all the hot and spicy food I ended with sticky date cake with a butterscotch ice cream scoop as topping.

Meal for two costs Rs.4000

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