The millstone

The millstone, even though we were born into a generation that never had to use it, is familiar to most Indians. The reason behind this is that it was a symbol of punishment in most of the Hindi movies of yesteryear (where inmates had to grind wheat). Even today “jail ka chakki pisna” is a common phrase to refer to being imprisoned. In large households, some of the larger millstones were operated by two people (usually women) sitting in front of each other to share the load. Imagine my delight when I came to become a proud owner of my own millstone! Continue reading “The millstone”

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Akki Otti

I went to visit my cousin sister and her husband in Coorg one last time. They will soon retire and move out from the beautiful coffee estates which are interspersed with orange trees and pepper creepers. I’m sure they’ll miss the place and the joy of tending to their kitchen garden in addition to encounters with wild pigs and elephants and cooking with firewood. I first visited them in Pollibetta when I was still in school. I still remember the tall silver oaks and the old English cemetery next to the church rolling up and down covered with a carpet of yellow flowers. I fell in love with the place and its people immediately and even so many decades later memories still put a smile on my face. Continue reading “Akki Otti”

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Making your own own coffee powder

Coffee has been one of my all time favorites since childhood. I can vaguely remember begging for coffee from my grandma and pestering my cousin sisters’ back home for coffee all through the day. The only difference was while my grandmother used filter coffee, my cousin sisters’ had made the move to instant coffee. I never realized that one day I’d come full circle and go back to filter coffee! Continue reading “Making your own own coffee powder”

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Oiling a griddle using an onion

This is part of a post that was supposed to be covered along with another on oiling griddles. It may be familiar to some and unfamiliar to others. I wanted to include this to complement my other post. Mum used to use this method for oiling our flat cast iron dosa griddle called a flat tava in Hindi and Kaavoli in Tulu.  I prefer it to the silicon brushes and the onion can later be chopped up and added to another recipe. It also adds a pleasant flavor to the dosa.

Alternative tools for oiling a griddle are coconut coir, banana leaf stalk and a piece of cotton cloth wrapped around a stick … the goal being to get a thin film of oil on the griddle. Continue reading “Oiling a griddle using an onion”

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Harvesting and processing Arrowroot

Arrowroot (Maranta arundinacea) is a familiar name. As kids it was a kind of a sister to castor oil which mum sometimes spooned into our mouths. It was bland and insipid and that was the beginning of my childhood hatred for any kind of porridge and of Arrowroot biscuits which has thankfully now passed. Arrowroot derives its name from its past medicinal use in which it was used as a poultice to treat wounds inflicted by poisoned arrows. Continue reading “Harvesting and processing Arrowroot”

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Harvesting and processing Turmeric

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a spice which is very familiar in Asia. It is usually used powdered and is one of the easiest to identify due to its bright orange-yellow color. However it is often adulterated and then colored with artificial colors. If you have a small garden patch, it is very easy to grow turmeric on your own. It is almost maintenance free and takes care of itself provided the weather is not too cold and there is good rainfall.  Continue reading “Harvesting and processing Turmeric”

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Cow dung and its uses

Never thought I’d be doing a post on cow dung! I’m guessing this post would also apply to dung of other herbivorous animals which put out dung of the same consistency. My earliest encounter with dung was on my way to school when I sometimes trod on it. In school we used to call it cutting the cake. It was the worst thing that could happen to one of us -if you overlook instances when we accidentally trod on dog or human dung in which case, “kill me now” would be the most appropriate thing to say. Continue reading “Cow dung and its uses”

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