Choose a pot with a lid which will be 80% full when the food is prepared. Short, squat pots are better than wide ones. A heavier pot is better than light aluminium. It can be metal or glassware or ceramic.
Heat the food until boiling, then: for rice and pasta 3-4 minutes will suffice. For meat, beans, vegetables; cut into small pieces (approximately 2-3 cms in diameter) and boil for 12-15 minutes to ensure everything is heated through.
Place pot in Cook-in bag. Optional: place newspaper on base before pot – this adds insulation, can prevent soiling of bag from charred pot and absorb any spillages. Make sure lid is securely over pot (you can secure it in place with flour and water paste) and tuck in top cushion. Pull up cord tightly.
Do not peek during cooking period – you will allow heat to escape!
The only exception is, if your bag has room, you can add a pot of rice or pasta 20 minutes before end of cooking time for beans/meat/stew. The new pot adds heat which might be briefly lost while adding it.
To adapt recipes: multiply cooking time by 3 and reduce liquid by 25% (as little with be lost). Soak dried beans overnight (wash before soaking, then cook in soak water to retain nutrients) or for 15 minutes prior to cooking.
If on opening food is not hot enough, or underdone, simply place back on stove and heat until ready.
Here is a guide to cooking times
Rice and pasta
| Time on heat/fire
| Time in bag
|Dried beans (soak for some time, overnight if possible)||12 – 15 minutes||3 hours|
|Irish, sweet potatoes, cassava, pumpkin etc||8-10 minutes||2 hours|
|Matooke||10 minutes||90 minutes|
|Meat (cut into small pieces)||15 minutes||3 hours|
|Stew||10 minutes||3 hours|
|Soup||5 minutes||2 hours|
|Maize Porridge||5 minutes||30 minutes|
For more inspiration see this recipe booklet.