If cooked scientifically, not only energy can be saved also the food smell depositing on you while cooking can be controlled.
Posted on January 9th, 2015

Dr Hector Perera    London

Take a few examples of cooking utensils such as aluminium saucepans, cast-iron utensils, stainless-steel vessels, glass utensils, aluminium and Teflon-coated non-stick pans then our traditional clay pots. I think some of you remember, ‘Ambalamae pina walan kadak gena’ then what happened?

Each type of cookware affects the flavour of the food prepared in it. For this reason, one needs variety in cooking utensils to achieve optimal results. Cast iron pots have been around since the frontier days and it was the most popular cookware at the turn of the century.

 Types of cooking

The cooking process might include baking, boiling, Sautéing, heating, steaming or cooking in the microwave. In this description I am refereeing only to a few methods where energy can be saved in the process of cooking.

Sautéing is a type of cooking where all the ingredients are heated at once and cooked quickly. To facilitate this, the ingredients are rapidly moved around in the pan, either by the use of a utensil, or by repeatedly jerking the pan itself. Since the pan is open while sautéing it is quite possible volatile chemicals escape all the time and some of it might deposit on the person who cooks, not only that the person keeps on inhaling these chemical vapours. Those vapours even spread out of the kitchen to the rest of the house as well making the other people also to inhale those chemicals. Who would admit that inhaling those vapours are healthy?

A traditional secret aroma beauty therapy?

I noticed some Sri Lankan ladies cook with the lid open or open in boiling curries such as in chicken, fish and even in vegetable curries. They cannot stop without stirring the boiling curries because they need to turn over the ones under the bottom. In that case would they turn around the cooking rice as well? In fact they do and sometimes it goes wrong. When curries boil, the steam carries a mixture of chemical vapours from each spice and usually they have low boiling temperature than water so they escape quickly. The molecules have a speed more than the speed of jumbo jets [1500 miles per hour] that means when someone stir the boiling curries these molecules come and hit them in that speed. The molecules gained the speed by absorbing heat and the moving speed is due to gain of kinetic energy. Once they hit any cold surface such as the hands, face, hair or clothes of the person who cooks, the oily sticky molecules immediately deposits due to loss of kinetic or moving energy. Now you see one of the ways where this curry cologne or spicy cologne comes out! Who likes a rub of curry cologne on the body or what about spicy chicken cologne, no one? One of my questions is why these ladies like to rub these spicy cologne on them? Is that a traditional secret aroma beauty therapy? Then they walk up and down in style like a mobile kitchen. When visitors come for dinner, usually they give a quick hug to welcome the visitors but who would say that they do not notice this smell on the housewife? I must say no one would mention about the smell on the housewife due to politeness. Sometimes they get showered with sprays and colognes to cover these curry colognes.

Scientifically energy can be saved

We’re always on the lookout for ideas that are a little unusual and that is true of my scientific energy saving cooking technique. By applying science one can cut down, not totally controlled the escape of these chemical vapours as well so those Sri Lankan ladies have no worries of cooking with the smell depositing on them.

My work is not limited to words

I have demonstrated this technique of energy saving and smell controlling for the benefit of the public in ITN TV then to Derana Television and talked about it TNL Television. After that I have demonstrated on a live cooking programme for a full length of time in Sirasa TV. The method was witnessed then approved by The Sustainable Energy Authority in Sri Lanka and The Sri Lanka Invention Commission has added the work to their official web site.

Actually a considerable amount of energy wasted in cooking can be saved. How many millions of people eat rice, pasta, spaghetti, meat, fish and vegetable curries? They all can save energy on daily basis by following my method. Would you not think this is a new idea? Further it cuts down some air pollution as well.

After effects of tempering

I was wondering about this coughing, sneezing during tempering, is somewhat related to laughter therapy in India.  Don’t forget the spices come from India then tempering also originated over there. While tempering, this invisible chemical mixture has the ability to release instantly some secretions from the lungs or somewhere and make you cough, sneeze, drool from the nose, tears from eyes so it’s like an instant stress release, I don’t know! Some Indians claim laughing is good for health, a kind of therapy. They get together and just try and laugh as a group and call it is a kind of therapy. It says laughter has beneficial effects on various aspects of biochemistry such as reductions in stress hormones and when laughing the brain also releases endorphins that can relieve some physical pain.

 We do this at home

Some curries such as red lentils are tastier when red onions, mustard, curry leaves and red chillies are fried in oil and added. When they do it, it’s inevitable to stop coughing, sneezing and tears drooling in eyes when you do this kind of sautéing, or tempering, am I correct? That is because a cocktail of invisible volatile chemicals escaping while you do this type of cooking. Believe me these Sri Lankan ladies still love to do it because the end results are good, an appetizing and a tasty curry and before that they get stress released. They have to sneeze out to get rid of the drool, cough out the loosened blocks of yellow mucus, snot and phlegm. You mean these secretions come out as the result of stress release?

Alzheimer’s disease

The stainless steel does not react with the food, the metal is inert to chemicals in the food but metals such as aluminium reacts with food ingredients. There is circumstantial evidence linking aluminium with Alzheimer’s disease. Sometime back a senior lecturer from Sri Lanka  Kelaniya University published an article about aluminium and possible Alzheimer disease.

Why do we eat Aluminium?

Most of the hotels and restaurants use Aluminium pots and pans for cooking as they are cheap and easy to handle and light weight. If you used Aluminium cooking pans, notice the pans have burnt marks in the centre and that is due to uneven heat distribution. When food is heated, the centre ones get more heated or quickly get burnt than the outer ones that is one of the reasons why they tempt to stir the things in the cooking pan. Aluminium metal dissolves in acidic as well as in alkali food substances and this is due to the amphoteric nature of the metal. Take my word, aluminium is not healthy to eat. Further this metal is so soft, easily get scratched. When they stir the food in the cooking pan with a metal spoon, more metal get scraped and gets into the cooking pan, then into the food in addition the acidic and alkali substances dissolve the metal. Again they found by using plastic spoons in frying, it dissolves and leads to other health problems. Would you think these restaurants prepare the food in stainless steel or in chemically inert cooking pans, you decide.

Stainless steel

Stainless steel cooking pans heat fast and evenly for constant performance. Here as well, heat has to be applied carefully than carelessly. Then only it can be used for energy saving cooking.

Observe the empty pans, you would not notice any burnt marks in the centre unlike in Aluminium pans. This is possibly one of the best utensils you can buy. If you look at the base, only in some pans you see there is a thick base due to a sandwich of metals. It could be up to five bonded layers of aluminium, copper and stainless steel. This is what makes it heat fast, consistently and evenly. These are fairly expensive than ordinary cooking pots and pans. Very thin base stainless steel cooking pans are also available, so watch out what you are paying for. When it comes to cooking with them each type has its disadvantages and advantages.

Clay pots

Traditionally in many cultures across the world, unglazed pottery or earthenware were used in cooking daily food. The use of these materials is still prevalent in all over Sri Lankan homes. Given its natural makeup, earthenware is the most ideal cookware, as food prepared in these vessels retains its natural flavour. One of the problems with these are about heat conductivity because they are non-metals so heat conducts slowly compared to metallic cooking pots and pans. We used these vessels all the time at home on firewood stoves. I agree the foods such as fish and potato curries, ‘kiri hodi’ taste delicious when cooked in clay pots.

Our servants in the past cooked the fish until nearly done then remove the cooking vessel from the heat and allowed the dish to stand for a few extra minutes. Although the fish will be removed from the heat source, it will still continue to cook for a short while, thus ending up with a perfectly cooked fish dish. That is due to some heat capacity in the curry and the cooking vessel that adds up to some slow cooking.  How those servants did knew the science behind this technique? I am sure it’s due to long experience in cooking gained in the kitchen laboratory. Your comments are welcomed, [email protected]

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