Amidst our busy lives and convenient kitchens, the thought of visiting our grandparents still brings a smile to our faces, doesn’t it? Even one fleeting visit brings out the child in us, no matter how old we are. Have you ever wondered why? It is mainly because their home is where time slows down. They lead lives that are an antithesis to our lifestyles. They chose tradition over convenience and by doing this, they allocated time to the things that really mattered. They brought to the table, the kind of food that ensured our good health in the years to come. The kind of food that is thoughtful, wholesome and enabled us to lead fulfilling lives.
Every time our grandmothers made soft and fluffy idlis that are to be dipped in Arachuvitta Sambar and Chutney, our hearts skipped a beat. With every bite, we couldn’t help but close our eyes to savor the taste. Sometimes, we even got crispy vadais to go with it. It is when you step into the heart of their kitchens do you realize how much planning and prep work went each of the dishes, you heartily belted down. As your grandmother sat in front of an Aatukallu grinding wet flour for Idlis, she told you stories and in between each story, you begged her for a chance to churn the Aatukallu just one more time.
Years passed by and yet, time stood still in your Grandmother’s kitchen didn’t it? Even though you might have gifted her a handy Mixie, she still insisted on grinding your favorite Coriander chutney on the Ammikallu. Simply because she couldn’t beat the habit and she longed to see the child in you peep out every time you took a bite.
For those of you who haven’t come across these traditional stone grinders, Aatukallu is used for grinding wet flour. Soaked lentils are placed within the hole of the apparatus and then ground slowly with the oval stone in a circular motion. Ammikallu is used for grinding wet Masalas. Spices are placed on the flat and thick stone and then ground with an oval stone in a forward and backward motion. The Ural is the larger version of a mortar and pestle, it was often used to hand-pound rice to make rice flour. These traditional stone grinders could give you quite the workout, but they retained many more nutrients and flavours of the food we could in comparison to the faster, higher heat-producing and convenient kitchen gadgets that have replaced them.
Today, given our demanding careers and endless to-do lists, these traditional kitchen essentials might take up too much of our time and energy to be put to regular use. But it is important that we use them at least occasionally. On days when you feel nostalgic or straying too far from home, keep in touch with your roots by using them. Use them as keepsakes that’ll help you pass on these priceless traditions to the next generations. As these traditional stone grinders get passed on from one generation to another, they will serve as time capsules that will stand the test of time to tell your loved ones stories from your childhood that made you who were, are and always will be.