The hot pot is an insulated cooking basket, which continues to cook food after removing it from the fire. It has several advantages:

  • It uses less firewood.
  • It allows the cooking stove to be used to cook other food.
  • It cooks food like rice well without burning.
  • It can be made very cheaply from local resources.
  • It can keep cooked food warm for several hours.


Use a strong basket made from local materials. Put a thick layer of insulating materials such as wood shavings, cotton waste, kapok or maize husks into the base of the basket. Cut out a circle of sacking or cotton a little larger than the base of the basket and sew into place over the lining materials. Then cut out another piece of sacking or cloth to go round the sides of the basket, fill with lining materials and sew into place.

Make a large cushion from sacking or cotton and fill with insulating materials to fit on the top of the basket. Mix a thick paste from cattle manure and coat the outside of the basket to improve heat storage.

Place a cooking pot with a tight fitting lid, containing rice, vegetables, soup or beans and the usual amount of water, on the stove. When the pot is boiling well, remove it from the heat without removing the lid and place into the hot pot, covering it with the cushion and basket lid. One to two hours later the food should be cooked. For dried beans, it may be useful to bring the pot back to the boil after an hour and replace in the hot pot to finish cooking. If using meat, it is best to bring the food back to the boil before eating.

Sent in by Achiedo Sombo Daniel ICA - C1, BP 119 Brobo, Ivory Coast

The adapted hot pot

REAP in Kenya have adapted this idea and use straw baskets with handles and smaller cooking pots to make it easy to transport a cooked meal to work (see drawing on right). They give these cooking times as a guide:


Food type

Cooking time on the fire

Time in basket


Maize and beans

45 mins –1 hr

4-6 hours

Takes less time if soaked before the actual cooking

Meat stew

5-10 minutes

2-3 hours

Cut meat into small pieces to help it cook faster


10 minutes

1 hour

Dried fish takes longer than fresh fish

Potatoes, plantains

10 minutes

1 hour



2-3 minutes

30 minutes