Caring for Your Colombian La Chamba Blackware Clay Pot

Care and cooking in Colombian La Chamba Black Claypots

I wrote this article a while back and wanted to share this overly detailed and overly cautious description on how to care for your La Chamba Clay Pot. While this is all sound advice I find just clean well, avoid too much soap and don’t use a scratchy scouring pads and start cooking in your La Chamba clay pot is the best method. I use them daily. La Chamba cookware holds up and cooks very well. I will add to this article in the near future (so please register for updates) and I will also write about caring for many other different types of Clay cookware. I highly recommend Paula Wolfert’s Mediterranean Clay Pot cookbook which  has a wonderful primer on claypots that is very informative.

Care Instructions for La Chamba Cookware


The pottery from La Chamba, Colombia requires very limited initial preparation before normal usage. The first time you will want to clean your pot in water with a light non abrasive sponge to remove any dirt or residue left from the firing process.  At this point you could choose to start using your pot immediately on your stove, oven or microwave. If you want to take some extra step preparing your vessel or dinnerware here are some methods that have been used for centuries to treat clay cookware.

Some porous clay pottery requires or can benefit from being filled with water approx 3/4 full and placed in a 400 degree Fahrenheit over for 30 min. La Chamba usually does not need this step, particularly if you purchase a finer quality vessel like this one, but if you have a pot from a village market and you were not aware of the step and care taken in the preparation you might feel more comfortable doing the water heated process first before regular daily use. Some international clay manufactures recommend milk in place of water to seal your clay pot. This again is an extra step that does not seem to be necessary for top quality La Chamba.

Regular use of your pot will naturally develop a well seasoned cooking surface. Using wooden utensils verses un-coated metal utensils will also help protect your cookware.

With proper handling you can use your Chamba pot or dinnerware directly on the stove, in a microwave, on a grill and in the oven.

Chamba clay cookware on coals

Like any cooking surface, these clay pots should not be exposed to excessive temperature changes. If your pot is very cold from the refrigerator you should not pour in boiling liquids. If your pot is very hot you should not put in ice cold liquids. The idea is to avoid extreme thermal stress.

Clay pots are very practical for daily cooking. They can be filled with cold liquids and be heated over a strong heat without a problem. The clay will also hold heat well. If your food is boiling, your dish may continue to boil for a while after you remove it from the heat, so use caution when moving your vessel. The advantage of your lidded clay pot retain a nice level of heat is that your food can stay nicely warm at the table for upward of an hour.


Ancestral Chamba Cookware is very easy to clean. Just scrub a little, rinse and dry. Since the clay is porous we do not recommend using detergents, particularly at first, before the pot is cured. If you have stubborn food on your pot just soak an half an hour. The food should be easy to remove with a non abrasive sponge. Repeat if necessary. Boil some water in really hard to clean vessels. There are very good non abrasive, bacteria resistant scrubbers on the market. Metal scouring pads will scratch and are too abrasive for the hand burnished surface of your vessel.

A Recommended purple scrubber

You can clean you La Chamba in the dishwasher even though it is not recommended. The dish washing soap can remain in the porous clay and it can reduce the luster and natural seasonings of your piece.

Clay is a natural surface, not a non stick surface. With time your vessel, with care, will develop a very lovely cooking surface where only limited use of oils or cooking sprays will seem necessary.


You should always dry your La Chamba ware well in a well vented space before storing. In very humid climates you will want to take special care to make sure your clay gets properly dried so mold spores will not develop. Proper washing and drying and prevent this from happening. You can air dry your pieces or to quickly dry place your La Chamba pieces directly on low heat to remove the excess moisture and allow to cool. Many cooks like to place their pieces in a warm oven for 10 min.

Happy Cooking and enjoying your heirloom clay cooking pot!!

Contemporary Irish Clay Cooking Pots

Irish clay artisan

As it is a beautiful St Patrick’s Day here in NYC it seemed a yummy time to point out a fine tried and true Clay Pot Corned Beef recipes contributed to this blog last holiday

This stirred and inspired an investigation about clay pot cooking traditions in Ireland.  Just scratching the surface…here are two quick finds I would like to enthusiastically share and hope to encourage more exploration…

Gourmet Pots Schull Cork Ireland South

An Irish Gallery – Gourmet Pots

A store dedicated to Handmade pots from potters who have thought seriously about what is required of a ceramic piece that will be used to prepare, cook or serve food and drinks.  Located on Main Street, Schull, Co Cork, Republic Of Ireland – hopefully more photos in the near future.

Anthony O Brien Irish Ceramic Artist

Anthony OBrien

A fabulous 5th generation Irish Artist Anthony OBrien, who in addition to creating lovely stoneware, earthenware pottery is reviving traditional designs of medival Irish Ceramic. His workshop is located in Shivlagh, Bunowen Louisburgh, Co. Mayo, Ireland.

Replica Medival Redware clay pots

Replica Medival Redware clay pots by ceramic art Anthony OBrien

Contemporary Clay Bird Bowl by Anthony OBrien

 Jun- Glazed serving bowl by Anthony O’Brien

More research to follow… hopefully on location… Please share what you know about Irish clay pots and clay pot cooking!

Kitchen Fusion Soup Recipe

Go Creative Soup Fusion

Fusion Soup ingredients

This recipe is about using the ingredients on hand… lets say you don’t want to leave the house… your pantry is full of odds and ends… and its okay that likely this recipe will never be duplicated again, completely unique.

I like to look at this type of cooking as finding an unlikely new love encounter. So rich in flavors that no one ever knew existed before.

Why use a clay cooking pot, in this context of cooking? Clay pots adds style, exotica, encourages creativity, gently cooks the complex fusion of flavors and finally offers a serving ambiance that is earthy and beautiful.

This recipe is based on a passion for collecting exotic ingredients. With a well (or oddly) stocked pantry and following your basic cooking and flavor mixing instincts, its not hard to create some very unique food fusions. Lessons I have learned, relax, play, smell, taste, mix, saute and enjoy. If I hadn’t tasted some of the mind blowing dishes, a very adventurous cook and pantry collecting friend, Rich, had recently created right before my eyes, I don’t think I would have had the gumption to mix so many odd ingredients. Hence, here, I include this recipe to give you a wild guideline, and mostly courage to cook beyond your day to day taste buds and create a dish that is uniquely your own kitchen fusion.

Warning, likely, you will not have these exact recipe ingredients on hand or would I recommend going on a grocery store scavenger hunt to duplicate each component. Use this recipe as a guideline to inspire your own special multi-cultural Kitchen fusion soup.

Fusion soup in a clay pot

Okay … ingredients on hand. In order of how they came in too the clay cooking pot.

2 Shallots chopped – now I had to commit… sesame oil… or another oil… I chose…

1.5 T of Sesame Oil

— saute until transparent

1.5 good size links of Spanish Chorizo sliced thin and cut in half – I like the DeSpana brand I had in the freezer.

1 Organic Maitake (Hen in the Woods Mushroom) Japanese Grocery Store chopped

– – Then throw in and lightly saute with the past ingredients

1/2 C Seasoned Menma Bamboo Shoots, rinsed

1/2 C Boiled Royal Fern in Water (specially selected) – chopped into 2 in strips


4 Cups of Water

1 Chicken Broth Cube

2 T of (Tiparos) Fish Sauce

1.5 t of Organic Seasoned Rice Vinegar Dressing

3 T Soy Sauce

1 T of Roland Chinese Curry Paste

2 T of Crushed Chinese peppers with Peanuts – Sorry no name in English

8 Pieces of Blue Colored Picked Eggplant chopped into half inch pieces

1 can of drained corn kernels

3 cloves of garlic chopped

– – Then desperate for an exciting flavor boost… to the rescue and a total surprise…

2 T of Indian Coriander chutney

— Bring to a Boil

add half a package Thai Thin Rice Noodles about 5 oz.

When noodles are ready serve.

approx 30 mins total cooking time.

Serves 3 to 4 people.

Fusion Soup in clay bowl

Results a soup of mixed ingredients probably impossible to bring together 50 years ago. The idea of having Japanese picked Eggplant with Indian Cilantro chutney and Spanish Chorizo in the same cooking pot is wonderfully odd and surprisingly very tasty.

Archealogist makes Clay Ovens in her Backyard

Handmade clay oven

Paula Marcoux’s Clay O

I have always wondered if being an archaeologist and handling 1000’s of pieces of Pre-Columbian clay contributed to my life long passion for cooking in clay. It was a happy surprise today to find this Boston Globe article about Paula Marcoux, a Plymouth archaeologist who makes Clay Ovens.  I am so inspired!


Super easy tomato, beer, chipotle chicken stew recipe in a claypot

“Quick I needed a no fuse main course for a casual gathering!” Almost embarrassed to post but its so easy and a very popular comfort food.

Spicy chicken beer stew in a clay pot from chamba


Chicken legs and thighs

2 onions chopped

2 green peppers chopped

4 cloves of garlic chopped

1/2 a lg can of fire roasted chopped tomatoes

2 to 4 chopped chipotle peppers from a can

3 T Cilantro

1 T Chili Powder

Salt and Pepper

Can or bottle of beer

Start with a Stove to Table Cooking Pot – trusty oval clay Chamba pot that cooks perfectly and looks great for serving.

No Thought Basics – 2 small chopped onions, 2 chopped green pepper and 4 chopped cloves of garlic all roasting in 2T of olive oil.

Need for Meat –  Quick defrost a package of good value chicken thighs and legs you hopefully have in the freezer.

Flavor –  half a big can of chopped Fire Roasted Tomatoes, 2 to 4  Chipotle Peppers from a can with about 2T of Adobe sauce (gives a big kick to the dish… make to taste) , 3 T of chopped cilantro leaves and stems, 1 t pepper, 1 T salt and 1 T Chili powder.

Novelty – men seem to always like it when you say there is beer in the dish, so dug out that can of Tecate (any beer will do) from the back of the Fridge and hence the Mexican favor flair. Add half the can of beer to the pot and drink the other half while you cook and chop… Ole.

Relax – Put the combination on low, covered for about an hour, stirring occasionally and you will have a tasty, filling, and spicy dish that is good with beans and/or rice, over pasta, with fries, couscous, pearl couscous, boiled potatoes… any starchy side dish should do.

No Knead Bread with Beer Recipe Baked in a La Chamba Clay Pot

I had heard from a few sources that the New York Times, Jim Lahey, No Knead Bread recipe could be improved upon by adding beer. I found this to be definitely true. I like the slightly lighter crust and the flavor of this recipe which also includes some white vinegar. This recipe came from Breadtopia and also has some excellent videos (one at bottom of this post) on making this bread. In the video he also features other unglazed clay bread bakers by Sassafras. These I have used for breads and had good results as well. Look for a posting on these bread bakers in the future.

No knead bread with beer baked in a La Chamba Clay stew pot

I wanted to try baked this bread in a black clay pot from Colombia. Proud owners of Chamba cookware have been telling me how wonderful these pots are for making bread. I have a few different Chamba pot shapes that I am anxious to try for bread making. For the first try I used a nice flat bottomed stew pot. Next time I will try a round Olla shape.

No knead beer bread fresh out of the oven

The recipe from is very close to the original but uses less moisture which I found to be a very good option. I did add fresh rosemary to my recipe and you might see small green flex in the photographs of the bread baking processes.


3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. instant or rapid-rise yeast
2 tsp. of salt

3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs.water at room temp
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. mild flavored lager
1 Tbs. white vinegar

2 T of chopped Rosemary leaves.

Mix the dry ingredients together they pour the liquids on top of the flour mixture. Mix until incorporated.

Mixed ingredients for the no knead beer bread

Cover the dough with plastic and set aside for a min of 8 hours and up to 18 hours.

Preparing for the second rise no knead bread

Then take the raised dough and very lightly knead the dough.. 10 to 14 times and place on a greased piece of parchment in a flat bottomed pan or bowl. Pinch up the dough to form a ball. (The video below shows all this very well) Spray non stick oil on top of the bread and set aside covered with plastic for 2 hours. An hour and a half into the second rising heat your intended cooking pot at 500 degrees. I heated up my Chamba pot which can easily handle this high heat. After 2 hours using the parchment paper to carefully move your bread to the heated pot.

No knead bread scored and ready for the oven

Score and lightly flour the bread. Reduce the temperature of the oven to 425. But the lid on the clay pot and bake in over for 30 mins. After 30 mins. remove the lid and cook for another 10 to 15 mins. Check the bread using a thermometer to see if the interior of the bread has reached near to 220 degrees and your bread is ready to be removed from the oven. Lift the parchment and bread out of the pan and cool on a rack.

Loaf of no knead bread with beer baked in an earthenware clay pot

You should have a beautiful round loaf of bread. Enjoy!

Clay pot Bean and Chorizo Stew with Sage & Cheese Coutons

Chorizo Bean Stew made in a Claypot

The Stew – serves four

2 T olive oil

1 medium onion chopped fine

4 medium size peeled carrots chopped into small bite size pieces

1 good size parsnip chopped into small bite size pieces

4 C of chicken broth

2 Cans of rinsed Beans – Pintos or your choice

4 slender long links sliced of a spicy chorizo – like Chistorra of Despana Brand Foods. Thicker chorizo could be used just cut up into small bite size pieces.

1/2 t ground smoky paprika

1 sprig of fresh rosemary

1 dried pepper like a Nora pepper – looking for a pepper with a smoky quality

Salt and Pepper to taste

For the Coutons

1/8 C of olive oil

1 large clove of garlic minced

6 large fresh sage leaves

3 slices of bread cut into bite size pieces – sourdough, whole grain work well

1/8 C of grated hard Spanish cheese like a Machego

40 mins to prepare – stove to table.

In your clay pot heat the olive oil with the onions and saute to trasparent. I used a Chilean Pomaireware or you could use a Chamba soup pot, an Emile Henry Crockpot, any heavy ample soup pot.

Chorizo Bean Stew in a Clay Chilean cooking pot

Next add the cut up vegetables and chorizo, sauté for a minute more then add the broth, rosemary, paprika. Take half of one of the cans of rinsed beans and put in a heavy bowl and slightly mash the beans and add to the broth and vegetables. Cook the mixture until the vegetables are tender and then add the remaining beans and continue to simmer. Feel free to add more broth/water to get your preferred consistency.

While the soup is simmering make the coutons.

claypot crispy fresh sage leaves

Heat the olive oil and chopped garlic in a open clay pan. I used a small oval casserole. When the olive oil gets hot add the full sage leaves to the oil and crisp.

The garlic should be roasting but not getting brown. Remove and drain the crisped sage leaves on a paper towel and put in the pieces of bread to toast in the garlic olive oil.

Coutons with sage and garlic

When the bread is nicely toasted drain on the same paper towel as the sage. Remove from heat and drain out the excess olive oil from the clay casserole and return the coutons to casserole, sprinkle with grated cheese and top with the crispy sage leaves.

Take the soup and coutons in their respective clay cooking pots right to the table nice and hot. Serve the soupy stew in wide mouth bowls with a few of the cheese coutons floating on top.

Great cold weather dish with wine or beer. Add a wild green salad and have a very filling meal.

West African Vegetarian Peanut Stew

African vegetable and peanut stew.

African Peanut Stew

A nice twist on vegetable stews and good recipe for Winter Vegetables.  I like how well the peanut and sweet potato overtones comes together to offer a different and delightful flavor.

Vegan friendly recipe.

Feeds 6 to 8 people

2 T Olive Oil

1 large leak chopped

1 large onion chopped

4 good size peeled carrots cut into bite size pieces

3 Cups of 2 different types of squash – winter squash preferred, peeled and cut into bite size pieces

2 Parsnips pealed and cut into bite size pieces

2 Yam or Sweet Potatoes bite size pieces

2 Jalapeños – chopped

4 cloves of chopped garlic – raw or roasted

1 Can of diced fire roasted tomatoes

4 – 5 cups of vegetable stock

3 T Salt

2 t of a spicy curry

1 t of cumin

½ Cup of smooth or creamy peanut butter

12 pieces of fresh okra, sliced into discs. Frozen can be substituted.

¼ Cup of finely chopped peanuts

Slices of Lime

Fresh cilantro leaves

This a very easy stew to prepare

Use a big stew pot or dutch oven. Preferably a big wonderful stove top clay stew or soup pot.

Sauté the onion and leaks on medium low until transparent, about 5 min. I cook my onions very slowly on low for up to 20 mins because I love the flavor but this is just my preference. Add the stock and vegetables, except the okra. You will want the stock to just cover the vegetables enough to get them tender without making the mixture soupy. 4 to 5 Cups of Vegetable stock works well but add a little through the cooking process if desired. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and add the spices. Cook for about 30 min until vegetables are tender. Next ladle about a cup of liquid from the stew into a medium size bowl and mix with the peanut butter. Add the peanut butter mixture back into the stew and mix well. Now add the sliced okra (a little more stock if necessary) and cook another 10 min. When the vegetables are tender and the flavors are blending well you are ready to serve in stew or soup bowls with chopped peanuts and cilantro sprinkled on top and lime wedges on the side. Can be served crusty bread or your grain like couscous, quinoa or rice but that is not necessary for this hearty stew.

Can be refrigerated for 2 to 3 days or frozen.

Information resources

Article all about Squash – very informative

NYC Fair Trade Bazaars, Clay Cooking Demos, and Slow Food

An exciting time for Clay Cooking! Lots of events and opportunities.

Here are a few we hope you can attend and join.

Saturday, Nov 13th – Dec 17th

Cultural Survival

Cultural Survival‘s Winter Fair Trade Bazaars starts Saturday, Nov 13th at the Smithsonian, Museum of American Indian in NYC and travel Thru Dec. 19th. These Bazaars can be found moving across the East to NJ and MA. Ancestral Cookware with La Chamba Clay cookware will be at the NYC at this Fair Trade Event.

Broadway Panhandler Nyc3:00 Sunday, Nov 14th Roasting in Clay Cooking Demo, Nathalie Herling, We will be roasting peppers. vegetables, and poultry for great Thanksgiving cooking ideas at The Broadway Panhandler 65 E 8th St, NYC, NY

Saturday and Sunday Dec. 4th and 5th

Fair Trade NYC Coalition

NYC Fair Trade Coalition  with Justin Church 239 Thompson St will be holding a Fair Trade Holiday Gift Sale.

Slow Food USA

Join and support the wonderful projects of Slow Food USA for only $25. this month. Lots of local chapters to meet like minded people and discover great local food sources.

Hearty & Easy Clay Pot Bean Soup – Vegan friendly

This is a stick to your ribs bean soup.

1 Medium Onion chopped very fine
2 hot peppers – long red work nicely – Remove seeds and mince.
½ C oil.
2 T of Flour
3 cans of Beans. Your choice. Mixed types can be tasty.
½ C of finely minced fresh parsley leaves
3+ Cups of Water or Stock (more if desired)

Slowly saute the finely chopped onions in ¼ C canola oil until the onion is transparent. Add the minced hot peppers to the onion. Cook a minute longer.

Sprinkle 2 T of flour over the oily onions and peppers. Stir as the combination cooks and flour absorbs the oil. Make sure not to burn. Can turn a caramel like color but will likely be more transparent. Add ¼ cup of water or vegetable stock to make a pasty gravy. Continue cooking a few min. Add about a Cup of Water or Stock (beer/stock blend works too), parsley and simmer slowly while you prepare the next step.

In another pot, rinse three cans of beans and cook in a ¼ cup of oil.  As the beans start to heat and soften, mash the beans along the sides of the pan with the back side of a wooden spoon. You may also want to use a potato masher. As you mash, slowly add a cup of water(or vegetable stock) to moisten the beans. You will end up with a thick bean paste. Add to the onion, pepper, parsley stock to the bean paste. Add water or stock (usually 1 to 2 C) until your desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Process through blender if you would like a smoother texture. Serve hot garnish with fresh parsley, (a dab of crème frache for non vegans) with crusty seasoned bread or crackers.

Which clay pot to use??? A heavy clay is preferable. Flat bottom or round bottomed clay pots work very well for both stages of this soup. I used one flat Chamba Stew Pot to saute the vegetable and a medium Chamba olla for the bean paste. The Round belly of the olla fit the back of the wooden spoon to nicely mash the beans along its side as it cooks and softens.

Chamba Clay Stew Pot

Heavy Black Clay Pot from Colombia would be a good option for making this soup.

Please share your favorite recipes and experience cooking with clay cookware from around the world.