Wednesday, December 8

La Chamba black clay cookware (Ajiaco soup and Healthy crab and artichoke dip)

Looking for some interesting cooking stuff around a town, I visited my local very cool cookware store in the famous Robson Street in Vancouver. Besides all the cooking gadgets and fancy china, my attention was caught by black shiny anabolic-shaped pots and pans. I read a booklet and found out that they are made at the base of Andes Mountains in a village of La Chamba (central Colombia) and have a 700 years tradition. Generations of  Pijaos Indians (mostly women) have been making these unique cookwares. Each item is individually created by hand without even a potters wheel. These are used by gourmet cooks around the globe and some celebrity chefs such as Douglas Rodriguez of Miami, Florida (father of Nuevo Latino cuisine).

What is also intriguing, is that this cookware can go from oven to microwave, or stovetop to table. Basically, this cookware is 100% natural, eco-friendly and healthy because no glazes are used (the pieces are hand-burnished) and there is no lead in the clay.

The main question I had is how they got that black glaze if they were not glazed?
Some suggest that the secret is in hydrochloric acid present in donkey manure.
But others say that pre-Colombian cultures in the Americas started "smoking" their pots on high temperatures and than smothered them with dry leaves. The carbon in the leaves, pulls oxygen from the iron oxide in the red surface clay of the pots, turning them black.

Who do you trust? Well, frankly I don't care, this cookware is one of the most unique and beautiful I have ever seen! And food from it tastes great. Similar to other clay pots and Tagines I mentioned in my earlier posts.

That's why this time for my ethno-cuisine, I've picked something authentic from Andes and South America - Ajiaco soup which, of course, tastes the best when made in La Chamba pots. In addition, there is my (healthy) version of crab and artichoke dip made with yogurt in a clay pot.

Ajiaco soup  
(Chicken, Potato, Corn - traditional Colombian soup)

2 large or 3 small chicken breasts (skin removed)
3 large cloves of garlic chopped
1 large onion chopped
3-4 Tablespoons of olive oil
10 small yellow potatoes - finger type
3 medium Yukon gold potatoes cut up in one inch cubes
8 small red potatoes cut in half
Chopped bunch of cilantro plus 1/4 cup of leaves for garnish
8 T of dried Guascas*
2 T of salt
1 T of pepper
3 ears of corn cut in wheels
10 cups of a chicken broth.
1 cup of sour cream or Mexican crema if available.
1 avocado, sliced
1 cut up lime
1/8 cup of capers

* dried Guascas are found in many Latino stores around a world or it can be substituted with bay leaf and parsley. Not the authentic taste, but pretty close. 

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot (La Chamba works the best or any dutch oven or large soup pot). Saute the chopped onion and garlic, save to the side. Next saute chicken in the same oil/liquid as the onions. When cooked through add the cooked onion mixture, chicken broth, spices and herbs. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer over medium heat about 15 mins. Add the potatoes and corn wheels, cook more for about an hour.
Serve the soup with bowls of the condiments, capers, sour cream, cilantro leaves and the sliced avocado.

Here is one more amazing recipe for clay pots a la La Chambra

Healthy hot crab and artichoke dip

1 large can of artichoke hearts
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup of thick yogurt (reduced fat)
1/4 cup sour cream (reduced fat)
3 scallions
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
1 tablespoon minced jalapeño chilies
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 lb (250 gr) lump crab meat
    Chop artichokes and  transfer to a food processor with a 1/3 cup Parmesan, lemon juice, jalapeños, yogurt and salt. Blend mixture in a processor until smooth and transfer to a bowl. Cook bell pepper in 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan over moderately low heat about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, chop and stir in artichoke mixture, chopped scallions and a crab meat. Transfer to La Chamba pot and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan.

    Bake dip in the middle of an oven until bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve warm.


    mangocheeks said...

    I have some similar looking pots. I think they are gorgeous.

    Lu Tostes said...

    My boys too... :)