Cow dung is still used in India for cooking

Lady making food

Did you know that cow dung is still used in rural India for cooking? In fact, when I visit my grandparent’s home in the village (Bihar), I still see my relatives using it. If you are thinking that these poor lots are still living in the dark ages, you’ll be surprised how progressive some of these village people are.

In fact, India has produced the best civil servants, doctors and engineers in these very villages. Poor they may be, but the culture of India lies in these very villages. But then, that’s a different story altogether. Let’s talk bull sh*t for the time being.

Village woman making goitha from cow dung
Village woman making goitha from cow dung

These cow dung or cow faeces is called “gobar” in India. They are used extensively for fuel in many parts of the country. The village women would collect the faeces excreted from the bovine species (cows, bulls or buffalo) and they would be mixed with hay as seen in the picture and made into dough. They would then be flattened and stuck on a wall mostly the walls of the clay huts or even on the ground to dry.

Wall is covered with cow dung or "gotiha"
Wall is covered with cow dung or “gotiha”. Source:  Wikimedia Commons

After they have dried out, they would be scrapped of the walls and stored in a dry place and used all year round for cooking. The final product is called “goitha”, think of it as “dunk cakes”.

You’ll be surprised how delicious the food tastes when cooked on the dung.

Lady making food
Here is a lady cooking using clay ovens. In this particular photo, the lady is using dried grass but often she would use cow dung to cook her family’s dinner.

Why not visit some of the villages of India. One popular village is called Bishnoi Village in Rajasthan. You’’ll find the lives of the villagers completely different compared to those living in the cities.

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70 thoughts on “Cow dung is still used in India for cooking

  1. Hahaaa… I found the statement “You’ll be surprised how delicious the food states when cooked on the dung.” so contrasting.

    Anyway, it is not much different in our country too! Though the urban areas get gas and electricity for cooking, the villages are relying on woods and guithas yet. There has started the briskets recently and is been better welcomed here.
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  2. Hi Shalu,

    I loved the pictures most of all, and they reminded me of the typical village scenes in India 🙂

    Oh yes…cow dung is still very much used, and most villagers rely on this free cooking fuel even today, even though they have other alternative methods of cooking. What I see some villagers do is cook things that a longer time on cow-dung, or even heat water etc. while for other things, they have their gas inside the house too. They are modern that ways, though the real rural villagers totally rely on cow-dung.

    We have a few villagers near by, and I’ve tasted ‘baattes’ made on this when we visited one of the villagers, and they do taste different from what I cook at home. More over, I think the village folks know how to make best use of cow-dung and not waste it – and they are all so pretty used to all of this. It’s just that we feel how can they.

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice day 🙂
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    • I am not sure what you call it, but in Bihar, we call it “goitha” or “gobar” and still seen in many villages of Bihar. I suppose some people, they do not have any choices but to use it. You mention, “baatties” which is similar to “litti” in Bihar and they are done mostly on these types of fuel. Tastes great. Thanks for your comment and the shares.
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  3. Hello Shalu,
    This is one post i need to contribute to. This is my first time of hearing this method. My place where i am from, we use charcoal for cooking and to be frank with you, it is way more better that cooking gas or other means of cooking.
    I wonder how a food cooked with cow dung is going to taste like 🙂 Thanks

  4. Shalu,
    I always visit this blog regularly, but I don’t comment. This post brings memory of when I was in Nigeria. It puts a smile on my face also. Pictures speak volume, I love the pictures on this post.
    Thanks for sharing 🙂
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  5. Hi Shalu,

    I loved this post!Cow dung really does have some great uses including cooking.

    The pictures you included reminded me of some village photos my mum took on a recent visit to Gujarat. There was a photo of a lady making big rotla in a proper rural setting. It was great.

    Thank you.

  6. One can even produce gobar gas from gobar or cowdung. Some of the state govts. are encouraging it, as it is clean energy.

    The food tastes good when cooked in an earthen oven or choolha. I just returned from Assam, and in the Guwahati town itself there is a hotel wich cooks only in earthen oven. The food will taste even better when cooked in earthen pot instead of the aluminium or steel vessel.
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    • You are right, some state governments are encouraging it. I have seen gobar gas plants in Bihar too.
      Interesting account that food tastes better when cooked on choolhas. I agree completely. Thank you for your comment and hope to see you again here.
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  7. HI Shalu jee

    Great share!

    Recently I’ve been facing the severe mosquito menace in our society, we have all those allout and goodknights failing.One of old lady suggested to burn cow dung in the rooms in the evening and believe you me, even though it was difficult to arrange but yes it worked wonders for us. Additional benefit and that too in urban socities.

    Thanks for this great share Shalu Jee.Have a great week ahead.

    Sapna

  8. Hi Shalu,

    Thanks for your information!
    In South Asia, cows are immensely important. Most of the South Asian economies are based on agriculture and subsequent farming hence since time immemorial the benefits of cow dung have been explored and tested from being used as a fertilizer, medicine, fuel source and now most importantly to obtain biogas from. The potential of biogas from cow dung is immense and is currently being explored in Nepal extensively.

  9. I know that cow dungs are still used as fuel in Africa, Nepal and Tibet. and I’m glad to hear that they’re still used in India as well! It may sound backward but it is so forward as well because they are sustainable and renewable energy source. I’m all for Green fuel!

    • Marisol, I suppose you are very right as far as environment and sustainable source of energy is concerned. Given that the global warming and pollution is a reality, these types of fuel are better. Thank you for your comment.
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  10. A great post depicting the true India, that most of the visitors miss. Very realistic pictures from the day to day life of millions of Indian village women. Thanks.

  11. In South Asia, cows are immensely important. Most of the South Asian economies are based on agriculture and subsequent farming hence since time immemorial the benefits of cow dung have been explored and tested from being used as a fertilizer, medicine, fuel source and now most importantly to obtain biogas from. The potential of biogas from cow dung is immense and is currently being explored in Nepal extensively.

  12. Cow dung is still an important fuel for many of the Indian villages. When we visit our grandparents who live near a rural area, they take us to a place where all the cooking is done with the help of cow dung. The process with which is the cow dungs are prepared is worth watching. Thanks for the share.

  13. It’s so nice to see that you bring such things on your blog and people from all over the world read and get to know about it. The things prevalent in the villages in India are so pure and offer so many benefits too. Keep up the good work, Shalu. You have a great blog 🙂

  14. Cow dung is still being used in the earlier subcontinent. The usage is concentrated in the suburbs or villages where infrastructure not or poorly developed. I have had a chance to see how they put it to use. I so wish to witness how it works. Thanks for the interesting share.

  15. Wow, this is really interesting. I had no idea that you could cook with dung. I would love to spend time in India with a family and learn Indian way of life and cooking.

    • Not only cow dung, wet waste, kitchen waste all are used in zero waste management and we can generate cooking fuel, electricity if we take mass production of wet waste. Government is promoting in some camps, mainly in saudi arabia, riyadh country totally they are doing natural farming and indians are rearing cows there and used for agriculture and bio gas. totally natural. where as people in india , our holy animal cow people are not taking care properly. i have some articles on this. if any one wishes i can post them.

  16. Ju couldn’t believe my eyes until I read this article. I thought it’s long ago people in India has stopped using Cow dung for cooking. Honestly it’s little disgusting. Thanks for keeping us informed 🙂

  17. It is a very smart idea yet also a quite dangerous idea. It contains high volume of methane gas (which is the reason why they can use it for cooking), but an uncontrolled could light down the whole area.

  18. how long does it take to dry up? and never mind better, if it does taste the same as regular fuel, is there anything being done to promote this useful alternative?

  19. It is a very smart idea yet also a quite dangerous idea. It contains high volume of methane gas (which is the reason why they can use it for cooking), but an uncontrolled could light down the whole area.
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  20. cow dung in Indonesia have started to put to good use, such as biogas and used as organic fertilizer to fertilize the soil.

    Even disebagian Indoneisa dirt area was used as a building material that is mixed with sand and cement. unbelievable right?

  21. I chose this location for several good reasons, one of which is, it has no carpet. Just wood floor and linoleum. I can clean with a broom and not need a horrible noisy vacuum at all. Such a relief!

  22. factory and companys kitchen waste all are used in zero waste management and we can generate cooking fuel, electricity if we take mass production of wet waste. Government is promoting in some camps, mainly in saudi arabia, riyadh country totally they are doing natural farming and indians are rearing cows there and used for agriculture and bio gas. totally natural. where as people in india , our holy animal cow people are not taking care properly. i have some articles on this. if any one wishes i can post them here cake delivery service in hyderabad
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  23. So amazing. I’ve never heard about using cow dung for cooking. In my hometown, some people cook by using dried wood or husk. Especially, rice will be very tasty if it is cooked by husk.

  24. Cow dung is still an important fuel for many of the Indian villages. When we visit our grandparents who live near a rural area, they take us to a place where all the cooking is done with the help of cow dung. The process with which is the cow dungs are prepared is worth watching. its awesome post. i have never seen before. thanks for shearing us.
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  25. Wow!!! What a great post. Cow dung is very useful material. In India, especially in villages it’s use as a fuel. I love your post @Shalu!! I love India and the people of India..:) India is actually a great country. 🙂 I found your post very interesting. I love reading all of it. Absolutely, worth to share!!

  26. These pictures are speaking alot of messages, and its good that what we call biogas was practiced by our grandmothers those days. Thank you for sharing.

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