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A saviour in summer

March 19, 2015 07:02 pm | Updated 07:02 pm IST

Nothing beats water stored in a terracotta pot to quench that burning thirst.

Nothing beats water stored in a terracotta pot to quench that burning thirst.

Come summer, and we look for ways to keep cool. Two years ago my sister-in-law Maya gifted me a pot-bellied terrocotta jug. I fell in love with it on sight. It looked so pretty on my dining table. It was also more handy than a large mann paanai . I was also happy that it came with a lid. We are not overly fond of refrigerated water at home. But regular water just fails to quench the thirst and leaves one constantly feeling parched in the hot months. This terracotta beauty changed all that. I filled it with boiled water, gave it an hour to do it’s magic, and boy did it give the refrigerator a run for it’s money! The first sip of the water was like pure nectar. We couldn’t have enough of it. It was not teeth-numbing cold, but cool enough to refresh and revive you instantly. The steel and glass jugs were put away instantly and this new entrant had to work overtime to quench our thirst. I managed to find another similar pot at the Crafts Bazar organised by CCTN. Since then they have been hard to find.

The matka or earthenware pots filled with drinking water are a common sight in our country. The mud or clay is known to have many restorative properties and is a perfect medium for storing water. Sadly, as modern practices crept in, convenience took priority and the unbreakable stainless steel and colourful plastic pots replaced the matkas .

I launched into a hunt for a matka this summer and I located Shanmugam and Manjula who sell them here. They source their pots from Puducherry, Madurai and Theni. They only deal in earthenware. They talk with great interest of the difference in the density and quality of the mud from the various regions. The finer clay from Puducherry, they say, is perfect for moulding the jugs as that makes them lighter in weight and easier to handle. The clay from Madurai is more dense and this is evident in the thickness of the walls of the pots. Shanmugam and Manjula have added a plastic tap to the pots, so now people dont need to dip their hands into it to fetch water. They move around the city selling their wares. You can reach them at these numbers; 9042780930 and 9944698943.

The theory of drinking from a clay pot is rather simple. Elders believed that in order to be of robust health one needed an infusion of all the elements. Earth, fire, water and air come together in the making of these terracotta pots. These are therefore considered ideal for promoting health. Now that they are available in a form more suited to our current lifestyle, why not give it a try? A blend of the traditional and modern is a good way to live.

Keeping the paanai clean

The paanai is low maintenance and keeps well A daily rinse with fresh water is more than enough.

Clean the pot with a soft brush used only for this purpose.

There is no need for detergents as the clay pot is free from odours as long as you store only water in it.

Once in three or four days scrub with lemon halves and a scouring powder.

Read more about food on Shanthini’s website >www.pinklemontreerecipes.com

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