The Cooking Basket that we are focussing on in this blog is a type of fire-less cooker which works without using fuel such as firewood, charcoal, gas or electricity to power it. Instead, the basket is a well-padded, insulated container which works like thermos – thereby holding & using the heat of the food &/or liquid inside it.
When using a Cooking Basket, you begin cooking your food on your normal cooking fire, stove or jiko in the usual way (but for a much shorter time than usual) and then you place the saucepan (sufria) containing the boiling hot food into the Cooking Basket for the cooking process to finish. If used well, the Cooking Basket can help to save 50% to 70% of the fuel that is usually needed for cooking.
The Cooking Basket can also reduce the amount of water that is needed for cooking, too, especially beans, peas & lentils which need a long time & a lot of water to cook on the normal fire or cooking stove. These can be cooked using the cooking basket before adding them to other ingredients such as a soup, stew or Githere, but remember that the beans must be boiled on your usual fire or stove for at least 15 to 30 minutes first in order to make them safe to eat.
It's even possible to use the Cooking basket to cook vegetable & meat stews. Just bring the food to a boil on your normal fire or cooking stove, then make sure the lid is securely on the cooking pot, carefully wrap the pot in the cloth and place the pot inside the Cooking Basket.
As soon as you have done this, cover the pot & the top of the basket with the padded cushion provided - making sure that you don’t leave any gaps. The Cooking Basket will then hold the heat in the food so that it will continue cooking without using extra fuel. The basket also helps to keep hot food warm for up to 6 hours.
The following are some suggested cooking times for when using a Cooking Basket along with your normal stove.
Rice (when cooked on its own): 5 mins boiling time, then 30 to 40 mins in basket
Potatoes (1 inch cubes): 5 mins boiling time, then 1 hour in basket
Potatoes (whole or halved): 10 mins boiling time, then 1 to 2 hours in basket
Mixed vegetable soup or stew: 15 mins boiling time, then 1 & half to 2 hours in basket
*Green lentils: 30 mins boiling time, then 2 to 3 hours in basket
*Red beans: 30 mins boiling time, then 1 & half to 2 hours in basket
*Split peas: 30 mins boiling time, then 2 to 3 hours in basket
*Maize: 45 mins boiling time, then 2 to 3 hours in basket
*Lamb, goat or beef soup or stew: 30 mins boiling time, then 1 & half to 2 hours in basket
*NB before cooking: Peas, beans, lentils &amp;amp; maize need to be cleaned & washed, then soaked overnight before cooking them next morning.
(This information can also be found at http://www.ccci-kenya.blogspot.com)