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A wonder pot, also called a seer peleh in Hebrew, is a type of cooking dish designed to emulate the way food is cooked in an oven, but it does so on a range top or over another open heat source. The main pot is circular and high-walled, with a hollow tube rising vertically in the center like a Bundt pan. The pan sits on top of a metal plate designed to evenly distribute heat across the entire bottom surface. A lid is included with a wonder pot, and it usually is made to be heavier than the rest of the pan with holes to allow steam to escape while cooking.
The wonder pot was invented in the 1950s and was very widely used in Israel until the 1980s, when it started to become obsolete. The original popularity of the wonder pot emerged in Israel because of the lack of indoor ovens in apartment buildings and homes. The pot was able to be used over any heat source, whether it was a small burner, an open fire or, in some circumstances, even a space heater. As the cost of ovens and ranges dropped, the pot was replaced with traditional baking dishes that were able to accommodate larger amounts of food. Eventually, the cooking pan was relegated to a position of nostalgia, finding little use in kitchens.
The first recipes for cooking with the wonder pot showed could be used for a variety of different dishes. Baked goods such as cakes, brownies and breads can be made in the pot when properly prepared and without burning as the dough cooks. Similarly, it is capable of making casseroles with any combination of ingredients.
In addition to acting like a stovetop version of an oven, the wonder pot is capable of being used as a general purpose pan. The cookbook that was included with the early versions of the pot contained recipes for soup, stews and dishes that included grains such as couscous that are not traditionally prepared in an oven. The only difficulty in using the pot like any other cooking vessel is dealing with the large center column, which can make it hard to stir.
The original versions of the wonder pot were made to serve a specific function and lacked stylish features or designs. The earliest pots were made from thin aluminum that had a tendency to rust with use. As the pot became more popular, different versions started to appear, including electric versions with their own burners and enameled pans that came in different colors. Most companies that produced the wonder pot ceased making the pan by the late 1980s.
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