In the past there were some difficulties in cooking but not right now, some solutions are included

In the past there were some difficulties in cooking but not right now, some solutions are included

Dr Hector Perera     London

Cooking is not difficult at all, it’s a matter of getting used to it then it becomes quite easy. We have to eat so some people get some people employed for cooking than they get involved in cooking. Back in Sri Lanka some poor women become “Kussi Ammas” or servant women in some houses. I am not going into the details of the conditions and environment of those kitchens. Let me point out some difficulties and try and give my ways of solutions how to overcome some difficulties.

Firewood stove kitchen difficulties

Briefly I can say in the past they had nothing but firewood kitchens and generally the kitchens are fairly hot inside due to radiated energy. Most of the time they cooked in clay pots that means they are poor conductors of heat so most of the heat is lost or radiated. Imagine to stay for few hours very close to the firewood stoves in such kitchens. The servants usually stay fairly close to firewood stoves as they have to control the fire. Sometimes the firewood do not catch fire easily so they need to do many things to get the fire get going. While they attempt to get the fire to cook the food, they had to face so many difficulties. All the time, it gives out smoke, some ash, dust then heat due to radiated energy. As the servants had to stay close to the firewood stoves, the radiated heat makes them sweat, feels very hot the whole body especially the face and the hands.

Cooking rice and curries

Then the pot of rice might over flow, dribbles all the way to the firewood then she has to open the lid or “nebiliya” to stop over flowing as it wet the firewood then she has to blow several times to get it back. To blow on the firewood sometimes they get very close to the firewood stove or used a metal pipe. Just imagine the heat felt on their heads and the faces, perhaps the others do not want to know as long as the food is served in time on the table. Then she has to open the boiling chicken or fish curry then she keeps on stirring them and taste them several times using a long handled “Polkatu handa”. That means she has to look after three things at the same times by standing very close to the smoky dusty firewood stoves. She cannot expect the fire to keep going and sometimes, she has to blow on them as to keep the fire going. Apart from cooking curries, she sometimes fry some “papadams and dry red chillies”. Already there is enough heat in the kitchen and with that kind of frying, it makes worse. The chillies give out a strong smell that irritates the eyes to drop tears then the smell makes them cough several times then they get a drooling nose as well. Sometimes they get shouted by the lady of the house for not getting the food on the table.

Quite often they fry dry fish such as sprats that give a very strong smell. If the fire was too much sometimes the frying pan catches fire as well. The smell is so much it fills up the kitchen then some of it enters the main house as well. Have I got to mention that some of these smell get deposited on the person who fry these things? Due to these difficulties some houses always employ servants for cooking. I think now most of those servants have left the country for foreign employment for better paid jobs. Now there are so called visiting servants who try to work at least in two places per day to get good living. They are in a hurry so they try and cook as quickly as possible as they have to rush to the next job, in doing so they might waste more energy in cooking. Sometimes the gas flame even burns off the handles of the cooking vessels as they put too much fire while cooking. Unlike in the past now they have gas and electricity to cook but they are not quite making the best of the facilities. 

Some solutions to avoid difficulties in cooking

One must have gas or electricity for cooking than firewood kitchens. That way one can regulate the energy used in the kitchen. The bad conducting or poor conducting materials such as clay pots must be replaced with stainless steel cooking pots and pans for better conductivity of heat. Once it attains the thermodynamic equilibrium condition the temperature must be properly reduced then there will be no excess heat to warm the kitchen. By experience one must understand how long it takes to cook a pot of rice, may be around half an hour. No point of constantly opening the chicken or fish curry as the convection currents created by the heat carries the heat so that it cooks the food. As the convection current comes up, the things in the cooking pots try to absorb some of the heat and that is repeated until it properly cooks. Again by experience one knows how long a chicken curry or a fish curry to cook, may be again half an hour as the maximum. No point of constantly opening and checking to see if they are cooked, by doing that one disturbs the convection currents and the pressure inside the pot. If one keeps on opening the boiling curries, some of the chemicals in the cooking ingredients escape into the air and some are likely to get deposited on the person who cooks. Try and keep them in an enclosed environment so that some get recycled. There is more to be explained again this has to be done with a cooking demonstration. If properly followed the method of cooking one could save a reasonable amount of energy. There are many types of cooking where energy cannot be saved for example baking, grilling, frying and barbequing and a few more methods of cooking. In case of direct heat cooking, my method of cooking can save a reasonable amount of energy if followed properly. I am able to demonstrate how to cook rice and curries by saving around 60% energy wasted in cooking. In the case of cooking curries, the smell depositing on the person who cooks can be avoided in addition to saving energy. These methods have been properly demonstrated in some Sri Lanka TVs and the one done in Sirasa TV gives a long demonstration. If necessary for video demonstration try by typing my name to Google then search under my name Dr Hector Perera Sirasa cooking. Your comments are welcomed This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dr Hector Perera

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