Cow dung is still used in India for cooking

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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Shalu Sharma

Shalu Sharma is a blogger and a writer from Bihar, India. She is the founder of YouBihar, the Bihar social networking site and writer on tourism in India. Apart from blogging, she is also a mother who does cooking and washing. She also watches movies and read other blogs. You can follow her on .

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

  • April 28, 2013 at 1:42 pm
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    OMGG… i am really happy to see this post here. These are like my home town. As you know in the village right now use all these things. There are no such food cook like that.
    Many thanks
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    • April 28, 2013 at 2:07 pm
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      I know what you mean. I see it all the time in the villages. Food does taste better when cooked on gobar. Thank you for your comment.
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      • September 27, 2013 at 11:54 am
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        They call it progress when people moved from using “Gober”/ Cow dung to natural gas. But Hey! Look at us now, how costly are Gas cylinders now?

        We are hooked for good, and we keep bleeding. When you have an energy source of endless supply, then such blood sucking “modern amenities” seem that much more…

        Our old ways were better, when are we all going to change back?

        Its too bad we have almost lost our Vedic ways.
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        • April 27, 2014 at 3:44 pm
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          Piyish ji,

          If you wish we can go to our back vedic ways of using cow dung in modern way. with latest bio gas plants which are easy to maintainance you can have the taste of that food that is cooked on cow dung dried cakes. I am in providing solutions for bio gas plants along with wet waste management. Also organic manure preperation , organic fertilizers, organic farming, natural farming. For further details can contact me @ sivajyothi.chandra@gmail.com

          Reply
  • April 28, 2013 at 4:16 pm
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    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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    • April 28, 2013 at 4:37 pm
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      Suresh
      I suppose, it will be same in Nepal too. trust me, the food does “taste” better when compared to food prepared on gas or electic. Would you agree?
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  • April 29, 2013 at 2:14 am
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    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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    • April 29, 2013 at 2:52 pm
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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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  • April 29, 2013 at 2:36 am
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    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

    Reply
    • April 29, 2013 at 2:49 pm
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      Babanature
      I agree that gas is a better alternative but what do poor people do if they can’t get it. I am glad you liked the pictures, thank you for your comment.
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  • April 29, 2013 at 7:08 am
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    Hi Shalu,

    It’s not cleaver not to use available resources to live. If you stay in an Indian village for a while you can discover some cleaver strategies to live.

    Dipra
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    • April 29, 2013 at 2:47 pm
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      Dipra
      I agree completely. The gobar is not only economical but also environment friendly. Its just labour intensive.
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  • April 29, 2013 at 11:25 am
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    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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    • April 29, 2013 at 2:55 pm
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      Oluwaseum,
      I hope you will comment on a regular basis.
      Yes, indeed, these pics speaks volumes don’t they. I am glad you stopped by and commented. It means a lot to me.
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  • April 29, 2013 at 11:46 am
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    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.

    Reply
    • April 29, 2013 at 2:43 pm
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      Hiten
      these are village pictures. The fuel is still used in some parts of India. Thanks for your comment.
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  • April 29, 2013 at 4:53 pm
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    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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    • April 30, 2013 at 12:47 pm
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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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  • April 29, 2013 at 5:23 pm
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    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

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  • April 30, 2013 at 4:58 am
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    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.

    Reply
  • April 30, 2013 at 7:52 am
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    I wonder how much heat can produce this dung. Might need to wait for that meal couple of hours or so.

    Nice visiting you Sharma – see you next time.

    Best regrads from I. C. Daniel – Romania
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    • April 30, 2013 at 12:44 pm
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      They might be a little slow in heating compared to gas. You are right, it does take a while for a meal to get cooked.
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  • April 30, 2013 at 5:21 pm
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    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.
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  • May 1, 2013 at 9:30 am
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    I believe the point that is really really produces who iN the planet would try that unles you are ridiculous

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  • May 1, 2013 at 8:50 pm
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    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!

    Reply
    • May 4, 2013 at 5:31 am
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      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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  • May 2, 2013 at 11:12 am
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    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.

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    • May 4, 2013 at 5:39 am
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      Thank you Anil. Kindly share if you could. Thank you for visiting and best of wishes to you. Hope to see you again.
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  • May 2, 2013 at 11:21 am
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    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.

    Reply
    • May 4, 2013 at 5:32 am
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      I agree completely with you Anil. There are lots of benefits from using by-products from the cow.
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  • May 3, 2013 at 10:26 am
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    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.

    Reply
  • May 3, 2013 at 4:13 pm
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    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 :)

    Reply
    • May 4, 2013 at 5:37 am
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      Thank you Abhisek for your kind words. I hope to see you again on the blog. Have a nice day.
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  • May 3, 2013 at 8:13 pm
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    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.

    Reply
  • May 4, 2013 at 4:55 pm
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    Nice! :) I wanna see this for myself. I hope I can try it out some time. Thanks!

    Reply
  • May 5, 2013 at 2:35 am
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    I have heard of cow dung used for cooking but I didn’t know how it was actually processed. Thanks for sharing this great information.

    Reply
  • May 5, 2013 at 2:01 pm
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    In my country cow dung use for agriculture! So I think use for cooking or for agriculture is the way to improve your environment!

    Thanks for share, one more thing to know about your country.
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  • May 5, 2013 at 8:13 pm
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    I’m kind of skeptical. However, nothing is wrong in trying, right? Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  • May 6, 2013 at 7:11 am
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    nice post thans for sharing this post really help me of my topic
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  • May 12, 2013 at 7:31 am
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    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.

    Reply
  • May 25, 2013 at 8:26 pm
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    i had the food made that way once…:) n i muist say i was a very different and amazing experience..

    Reply
  • July 14, 2013 at 5:45 am
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    Reminds of of my grandparents house… Great article.

    Isn’t that an environment friendly way of cooking ? There is no waste and hence no pollution.
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    • April 27, 2014 at 4:00 pm
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      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.

      Reply
  • August 21, 2013 at 1:19 am
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    Sounds disgusting, but I guess if you grow up with it then it probably is normal and not a big deal.

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  • July 18, 2014 at 12:31 pm
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    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 :)

    Reply
  • October 2, 2014 at 8:52 am
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    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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  • October 9, 2014 at 8:08 am
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    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?

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  • October 10, 2014 at 5:08 pm
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    Sounds disgusting, but I guess if you grow up with it then it probably is normal and well big deal offcourse.
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  • November 10, 2014 at 7:15 am
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    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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  • January 29, 2015 at 2:19 am
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    Wow, it’s so weird,i wonder is it good for health ?,Quite sure it the taste is bad haha

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    • March 8, 2015 at 8:03 pm
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      Its absolutely good for health, and Cow dung is used for cooking the food not for eating 😛
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  • February 21, 2015 at 9:04 am
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  • March 12, 2015 at 2:51 am
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    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?

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  • April 30, 2015 at 10:00 am
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    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!

    Reply
  • June 23, 2015 at 5:46 pm
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    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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  • November 16, 2015 at 9:56 am
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    With a cow….u can get milk and fuel. Brilliant, I like this post.

    Reply
  • December 24, 2015 at 1:21 am
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    cow in India is the most widely cows produce milk .. the milker very patient there and they are hard workers, especially women
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  • January 25, 2016 at 5:23 pm
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    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.

    Reply

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