The Cataplana is a peculiar and unique portuguese cooking utensil, whose origin is still little known, since there are no official historical records of its appearance and creation. To find the roots of Cataplana, we are almost obliged to investigate in this case the Arab influence from North Africa, which for over 500 years (VIII century the century. XIII) marked the great destinations of the Algarve region and is still well reflected in their culture and crafts.
In North Africa we also find a very ancient utensil, whose cooking process is similar to that used in the Cataplana. This is in fact the famous "Tajine" Moroccan, which although traditionally made in clay, it uses the same kind of food cooking hermetic steam process that was later used also in the Cataplana, and also in this case the dishes are cooked slowly with low temperatures as in the Cataplana.
The Cataplana as we know it today began to be produced many decades ago in the Algarve region by former ancient copper artisans, masters in the art of working with copper, for which this region was once widely known.
The Cataplana is basically two half concave pans, joined by a hinge and two side locks, allowing an hermetic cooking of the dishes, becoming really, the forerunner of the current modern pressure cooker, what makes the cataplana a trully ancient primitive pressure cooker.
Initially produced in Zinc, soon began to be produced in
copper (just like our current), by the old craftsmen,
masters in the art of casting the copper according
to the old tradition. The use of copper, besides
allowing an excellent conductivity of heat throughout
all the Cataplana structure, it also gives a special
unique and incomparable flavour to the delicacies
made therein, natural properties of this noble
metal, whose use dates back thousands
of years, having been used by many
ancient great civilizations like
the Sumerians, Egyptians, Babylonians,
Phoenicians, Romans and Arabs.