Kitchen Treasures # 1

Kitchenware, be it traditional or modern,are special to me.What is more valuable is the memory associated with these kitchen wares,especially the traditional ones.When Dibs of Chitra Amma's Kitchen announced the kitchen treasure hunt,few of my kitchen treasures came to mind but all that is back in India so I got Dad to click a few of them and send it to me.

Here they are,

1.'Kumutti'-This one , like a stove,is used to cook food.I have never cooked on this but mom says the food cooked on the kumutti taste the best.Pappad roasted on them were excellent.This one has a very different method to light up.The top portion is filled with charcoal and a bit of coconut husk[coir].The small opening below is filled with coir and a piece of cloth dipped in kerosene /oil and lighted.The flame from below ignites the coir and charcoal above but we have to fan it for a few minutes so that the charcoal turns red hot.Once done,the heavy bottom vessel is placed on it to prepare food.Food does take time to get cooked so they used to have a couple of them burning simultaneously.Different shapes and sizes of kumutti were used.

When not used to cook food,the kumutti serves other purposes as well.After hair wash,women used this to dry their tresses.The kumutti was lighted and sambrani - a kind of incense that has a fragrant smell, was put on the red hot charcoal.Fragrant fumes emanate and they invert a large bamboo basket over the kumutti and the women sit beside it and spread their tresses over the bamboo basket and their tresses dried and is fragrant too!

This kumutti ,though not used for cooking nowadays,was used for my lil angel after she was given an oil bath.My mother used to hold her above the sambrani dhoop .Since the sambrani powder is mixed with turmeric powder and ajwain/carom seeds,it ensures that the baby does not catch a cold.

2. The pickle jar.Made of porcelain,this one found its place in almost every home.Very few people use it now as glass has replaced this jar and the art of pickle making has dwindled.Grannies used to prepare varieties of pickles and fill up each jar and let them soak.It was later ladled into smaller containers for everyday use.

3.The 'Kal chatti' [Stone vessel] used to prepare gravies and the dishes prepared in this taste outof the world!!!

4.This well worn out vessel is Seestha kanchu or the 'Eya chombu' -a real treasure in mom's kitchen.The saaru/rasam prepared in this is heavenly.The saaru tastes even better when it is left in this vessel and consumed the next day.Don't know how and why but there is no match to the Saaru prepared in this vessel.Am droooooling right now!

5.Coming to the little treasure in my kitchen -the maththu or the churner.I made it a point to bring it with me from India cos it looks so cute[Its a little bigger than a dessert spoon] and I can't find one like this where I live.I use this to churn buttermilk , to make dishes like 'Keerai kadaiyal',to mash dhals /blanched tomatoes instead of using a blender.

6.This one is used to prepare ' Kuzhi paniyaram '.It is made of 'Maakal' or soapstone and is really very old[you can see how worn-out it is!!].Though fresh batter casn be used to prepare this kuzhi paniyaram,we at home,used to prepare it with the leftover dosa batter,putting in chopped onions,green chillies,curry leaves and seasoning it with mustard and jeera.This vessel is kept on the stove and 1/2 teaspoon oil poured into each hollow and then filled 3/4th with batter and cooked on both sides till golden brow.This can be had as a part of breakfast and also as a snack.Coconut chutney/Tomato chutney is served as an accompaniment.
Nowadays it is very rare to see a kuzhi paniyara kal made of soapstone.In the market you can get the same type of vessel made of metal and even non stick varieties.But I assure you that the taste of the kuzhi paniyaram prepared in this is no match to the ones prepared in any other metal/nonstick ware.
I have seen a lot more traditional vessels in my grandma's attic and the next time I visit her I am gona capture all those wonderful wares and their memories.