Here’s a new guest post. Sushma, is an ardent follower of ykantiques.com. After realising the benefits of using traditional cooking vessels, she has discarded the modern kitchenware like pressure cookers and non-stick cookware one fine morning and started using only traditional cookware made of brass, bronze, copper, iron and earthen pots. She proudly says that neither she nor her husband visited a doctor since last 2 years and she attributes this gift of health to her traditional way of cooking. Here is her story in her own words.
A Bit About Myself
For those of you who might be wondering who I am, my name is Sushma and I am from Vijayawada. After my marriage I relocated to Hyderabad. The thing is that, even after my marriage I did not know how to cook. The only thing I could cook was noodles. To add to that, I did not even know how to prepare tea back then. It is my husband who taught me most of the recipes which today I make so wonderfully.
Initially, when I was practicing cooking, it was okay. But with every passing day, somehow I was losing interest. I became an expert in cooking non-veg dishes but I don’t know why I felt that the taste factor in vegetarian dishes is not as dominating as that in non-vegetarian dishes. So I always used to wonder as to how to make vegetarian dishes equally tasty.
When I become completely vegetarian including even egg, I felt I should do something to bring marvelous taste to veg dishes as well. There is a saying that, “What we eat is what we are,” so I thought to live a better life. I personally feel that vegetarian food is the only food to develop spirituality in human beings.
A Snippet From The Past
Back then in the day, me and my husband went on a short visit to my husband’s home town Penugonda. One fine day, my husband’s cousin invited us for lunch. We both went there and to my utter amusement I saw different kinds of brass items. I was really excited to see those. Till then, the only brass items I knew about were the lota and big size round shape vessel used to store water called Gangalam.
After coming back to Hyderabad I was curious and started searching for what exactly these brass items are/were used for. Luckily, I stumbled upon www.ykantiques.com and I was astonished looking at the items and the descriptions given by Krishna Murthy garu for each item. Then, I asked my mother as to why we are not using these brass vessels anymore. She told me that day by day, as convenient and modern methods came into existence, everybody began to shift from old to new without having prior knowledge.
My Take On Non-Stick Cookware
I feel that cooking in non-stick vessels will deteriorate the value of food. That’s why most people are inclined to non-vegetarian food. Even cooking in a microwave oven has a bad effect on the food and one’s health. Also, after cooking, storing food in plastic boxes is also not good.
Indian cooking methods were very ancient and mainly concerned with seasons and temperature prevalent in our country. There are so many scientific reasons why we used to follow certain rituals and traditions. Today, we are not aware of these scientific reasons and are blindly following the west.
Non-stick cookware is coated with a material called Teflon, which causes cancer. This Teflon coating reacts with the food we cook and it abrades and contaminates our food.
Aluminium utensils were not so prominent until Britishers came to India. They used these aluminium vessels in jails for cooking food so that it acts as a slow poison on freedom fighters. Aluminium pressure cookers are also not good for health. When anything is cooked under pressure, food loses it protein value. In food cooked in aluminium pressure cookers, the protein percentage is 7 to 13 per cent. By cooking food in these vessels, risk diabetes, early signs of old age, stomach problems etc.
The vessels which are good for cooking are:
Earthen bowls: 100% proteinis retained
Brass vessels: 97% protein is retained
Bronze vessels: 93% protein is retained
Even stainless steel contains nickel which is not good for Indian recipes. That’s why since 20 years there is a drastic increase in the number of diseases at early stages.
Storing Drinking Water
Another major thing is drinking water and also storing in plastic containers. We are de-energizing water as firstly it travels through metal pipelines over long distances. For purification purpose, we add chemicals like bleaching powder etc. thinking that we will get purified water. Day by day if we follow these type of techniques, ill effects would be visibly seen.
After knowing all these things, I have made many changes to my lifestyle. I will first start with water. Drinking water should be stored in opaque, porous and earthen medium.
Since 80 per cent of our body is water, our ancestors used to store water in mud pots and they lived in sync with the five elements of nature. In order to get energized and purified, they used mud pots.
Drinking water in glasses and any plastic medium is not good for health. Our traditional method of drinking water is by using lota. Water has a property, it cleanses the internal organs. If you observe a lota, the surface area is less, when surface area is less, surface tension is also less. So drinking water in lota is a good habit. Water should never be drunk by in standing position. In order to avoid joint pains sit and drink sip by sip. To give more energy to water, I started using Himalayan energy crystal. According to literature by crystal experts, the Himalayan crystal amplifies energy and possesses a high energy vibration.
Crystals, in particular, were used to increase and harmonise energy levels which in turn helped to equip and strengthen the body. Now-a-days we buy water which is processed and stored for a long period of time. While travelling, we buy bottles. In early days, to carry water, people used a container which has round body and a narrow neck. In Telugu, we call it as marachombu. This looks like lota, but it has a lid.
I personally wanted to stop buying water in plastic containers and start using this marachombu. If in case you happen to buy water, pour the water in marachombu and place a Himalayan crystal in it. Now a days, these processes may look inferior to chemical based and technology based medicines and antibiotics.
While an increase in diseases and illness in this modern worlds has created a necessity for modern medicine and techniques. We should always remember the healing power of the earth.
I will try and write about other aspects that I have learned about and those which I’m currently practicing in my day to day life. If you have something to share or add to this, I would love to hear from you.
This antique glass jar with lid shown in the picture has subtle curves, clean lines, with bulbous lid handle. The glass container is hard by nature, neutral on pallet and visually gives a relaxed feeling when looked at.The magnificent visibility is a great advantage to identify the contents quickly. This was purchased by my Grandfather Yenugu Krishna Murthy garu in the year 1916 and it is now 98 years old. Garu is a Telugu word used to address elders with respect. I have a lot of emotional attachment to this bottle as it is a companion to me for several years feeding me with variety of snacks.
I lost my father at a young age and I grew up under the care of my mother and grandfather.Though I used to have my regular food from my mother and snacks like onion pakoda, banana bajji and an occasional sweet item Mysore paak, my heart is to crave for snacks like chocolates, biscuits and sweets. For such items the source is my grandfather. My grandfather’s room used to be very attractive for my young heart. There used to be a bed with high pillows,a writing table full of books,ink bottle with dipping pen, lots of books, an agarabatti (incense stick) stand in the shape of an elephant, a Rudraksha mala(a garland of Rudraksha prayer beads) brass and wooden cymbals for doing bhajan and a huge family portrait of Lord Shiva withwife Parvathi, sons Ganesh and Kumaraswamy, his vahanam Nandi and most interesting thing out of all itemsfor me is two cookie jars one filled with Tapeswaram Kaja (a type of sweet made in town called Tapeswaram which is very famous in those days and even now for the sweet item Kaaja) and one filled with J.B Mangharam brand biscuits, chocolates and peppermints. My grandfather used to take biscuits along with his morning and evening coffee and used to chew peppermints during afternoon times when he used to feel his mouth was dry .Though he never used to take sweets he used to keep them for me and my sister and other children who used to visit us. Whenever we feel like having some snacks we used to go to his room and he used to give us biscuits peppermints and sweets. So my association with these glass jars are very pleasant and whenever I see these bottles I am immersed with nostalgic memories of my grandfather and his room.
It is also interesting how he got these beautiful bottles.Those were the days of British rule in India and some of the pockets like Yanam in present Andhra Pradesh and Pondicherry in present Tamil Nadu state were French colonies.My village Someswaram is around 40 miles from Yanam. French used to do their own trading and the foreign shipments used to come to Yanam which has a moderate port. Thehawkers from the villages around Yanam used to smuggle interesting items and sell them in nearby villages carrying them in bamboo basket held on their head. They used to come to our village also and used to come to our house being a regular customer. During one of such visits they brought these beautiful glass jars and my grandfather fell in love with these cute jars at first sight and purchased them.
The imposing antique glass jar has a stamp embossed on the body as “SGF” with a diamond design around it .Down the diamond design are embossed letters in capital reading as “ MADE IN JAPAN “. The word SGF stands for the company that manufactured this jar and obviously made in Japan. The lid also has embossed inscription “MADE IN JAPAN”.
The antique glass jar with lid is round Barrel shaped with 6 inches diameter of the barrel and height of 7.5 inches. With the lid it is 9 inches high. The barrel narrows into a neck with an opening of 5 inches diameter at the mouth of the neck. There is a beautifully designed lid to the bottle which fits into the bottle by friction.The neck of the bottle is1.5 inches high and the collar of the lid is one inch high which snuggly fits into the neck of the bottle.There are fine grooves on the surface of the collar which help to have a tight grip and prevent insects.It is almost air tight. There is a beautifully designed knob on the lid with embossed pattern which serves as a grip and decorative appeal. The bottle has vertical mould seems running from top to the bottom of the glass indicating that the glass jar is made with machines around 1915. The handmade blown glass jars will not have the mould seems.
How glass Jars are made?
Glass is made out of sand(silica or quartz), lime stone(calcium) and soda ash. The mixture of these 3 components along with small amounts of ferric oxide, aluminium oxide, sulphur trioxide, barium oxide, magnesia are put is a gas furnace and heated up to 160 degrees centigrade. In some cases boric oxide is added to increase the durability and strength and lead is added for brilliance. The ingredients mix and melt and form into hot glowing molten glass. Normally the furnace runs for 15 years non-stop .With the help of automatic shears the running molten glass is cut into blobs known as “gobs”. The gobs are pushed down into the shape forming machine and the glass is moulded. Air is blown into the moulded glass so as to fit into the mould completely thus forming a jar shape. This partially shaped jar is called “parison”. The final shape of the Jar is done by passing on the Parison to another “blow mould” where air is blown into to get the final required jar shape. Then to make the jar tough and scratch proof, cool air is blown over it and then the jar is coated. The jar is further strengthened by passing it through an oven which is called “Lehr” and by heating it up to 550 degree centigrade.
Multiple Uses of Glass bottle
This antique majestic glass jar can be used for storing and displaying many items. This wonderful see-through container with lid is used as Store counter canister to display prominently. This classic jar is a timeless piece that can be used in any room of the house. This can be used to store sugar, flour, candy, cookies, coffee, tea and snacks and many more. They make excellent cookie jars. This can be used as a hobby jar to keep items like ribbons and wool which stay clean and dry. Ideal for display, in sweet shop that will give the shop an antique touch. The Iranian restaurants in Hyderabad and Mumbai used to keep their famous osmania biscuits in similar jars for counter display and to keep them fresh. These osmania biscuits go well with the Irani Chai (Tea). Any tourist visit to Hyderabad is not complete without tasting Osmania biscuits with Irani chai and Hyderabadi dum biryani in the Iranian restaurants for which Hyderabad is famous.
Types of glass
There are two types of glass production sheet production and container production. Jar and Bottle manufacturing is a part of Glass container production. The modern glass production uses machines while traditional glass making is done by glass-blowing and blow-moulding. Even now for creative art work and custom designed objects, glass blowing methods are used. Containers such as jars, bottles, tumblers, wine glasses, and bowls are made out of container glass. Glass items like window glass, glass doors, and transparent walls like in show cases are made out of Flat glass. Glass fibre is also made out of glass which is used for thermal insulation, fibre glass material and optical communication.
How to find the antiquity of glass Jars
The antique jars will give certain clues and specific characteristics by which one can find out the time when the jar is made.
v All the jars made before 1860 can be identified by their Pontil scar. The glass blower used to hold the hot jar with a devise called pontil rod to protect himself while the jar is in making. This pontil rod leaves a dark indentation mark or a ring of glass on the base of the jar.
v The glass jars made before 1915 do not have mould seems since they were not using mould to make the jars.The jars made after 1915 were made with machines with moulding technique have mould seams in the form of a line running from top of the jar to the bottom of the jar.So if the jar has mould marks it is made after 1915.
v If you find scratches and scars on the bottom side of the glass jar,it was most probably made before 1915 by hand and not by mould. The jars made by mould will contain uniform marks.The handmade jars will have rough surface and seems around it.
How Glass gets its colour
The colouring of the glass is both a science and art.The natural glass has inherent shades of green tint, aqua, and light blue. These colours are produced by the iron content in the ingredients that used in the making of glass.Some ingredients are added to alter the natural inherent colours like manganese for purple; selenium for red, pink; cobalt for rich blue. Different host of colours can be produced by adding several elements used to colour the glass.
Use of glass in high technology products
Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) glass plates are used as components in products such as computer monitors, mobile smart phones,note books,tablets,television screens,microwave display panel.The latest wearable computer “Google Glass”like a pair of eyeglasses contains a small glass LCD display panel and the main frame is made out of titanium and quality plastic for a lighter weight.
Some Interesting facts about glass
v Decorative beads were made with glass as early as 12,000 BC by Egyptians.
v The amount of iron and other colouring agents in the mixture determine the colour of the glass.
v Up to 300 tonnes of glass can be produced by a single furnace.
v Every year 1.4 million tonnes of used-glass is transported for land filling. 4.2 billion Jars and bottles can be manufactured if the same glass is recycled or reused.
v You can recycle glass infinite number of times without the loss of quality.
v In the year 2003, the recycled quantity of glass is 8, 90,000 tonnes. 2.7 billion Jars and bottles can be made with this amount of glass.
v The energy saved by recycling one single bottle can power one television for 1.5 hours.
I am one among those millions world over for whom a cup of freshly brewed hot coffee early in the morning is a heavenly delight. My coffee should be a South Indian filter coffee with fresh decoction taken from well roasted coffee beans with the right blend of chicory powder mixed with fresh hot foaming milk with a balanced mix of sugar. The first coffee in the morning is divine with the pleasant aroma giving a heady feeling.Without this golden brown brew stimulating the taste buds and the rest of the system,the daily routine will never be triggered.
To have that wonderful coffee,you need a thick fresh aromatic coffee decoction .There is a simple device called Coffee filter which gives you that miracle brown liquid called decoction. The decoction mixed with fresh hot milk and sugar makes an excellent south Indian coffee that is normally served in davara set that consists of one saucer like cup with a rim and a tumbler placed inside the davara. The beautiful antique brass coffee filter shown in the picture has served thousands of tumblers of coffee since more than 100 years and must have witnessed the grateful smiles of satisfied coffee lovers. I am really proud of having this most enchanting antique piece in my collection.
The Coffee filter set
The traditional South Indian coffee filter has two chambers that sits one over the other, a lid to cover the top chamber and a plunger. The top chamber has the perforations to allow the filtration to happen.The bottom chamber serves as a collection point of the decoction. Coffee powder is put into the perforated chamber, and the plunger is kept on top of the powder and pressed gently. The plunger is basically a convex disk with perforations and a pin that is welded vertically at the centre of the disk. The purpose of the pin is to lower the disk to sit on top of the coffee powder and to take it out when not required. Hot water is poured on the upper chamber and covered with the lid. The plunger ensures that the falling water do not make a hole in the coffee powder when poured from a height. The plunger takes the pressure of the water and distributes uniformly around the plunger. The hot water seeps into the coffee powder through the holes in the plunger. Over the time, the coffee gets brewed and the decoction percolates to the lower chamber drip by drip carrying the essence and the aroma of the coffee powder. The decoction collected from the first drips mixed with fresh thick milk with adequate sugar makes the perfect coffee and I know people who wake up early in the mornings only to sip this wonderful coffee. Coffee is the motivation for most of the South Indians to get up early in the morning.
The precious gift
This beautiful brass antique coffee filter set was gifted to me by Shrimathi Janaswami Saraswathi garu (“garu” is the respectful way of addressing elders in Andhra Pradesh). Saraswathi garu and her husband Janaswami Venkatappayya garu are closely related to us through our niece Vani. Vani is the daughter of my brother-in-law Machraju Purushothama Rao and his wife Machiraju Parvathi. We used to have frequent mutual visits with Janaswami family while we were in Mumbai. Saraswathi garu was heading a reputed school in Mumbai and Venkatappayya garu was a general manager of Canara bank. Subsequently we settled in Hyderabad and by a pleasant coincidence they have also shifted to Hyderabad and our frequent visits continued.She used to encourage my antique collection and one fine day she gifted this antique brass coffee filter in the year 2006. I was told that the filter was passed on to Saraswathi garu by her grandmother and it must be by any means more than100 years old.Those were the days the stainless steel has not yet invaded into domestic utilities and hence this filter is made of pure brass. Moreover, the coffee tastes at its best in brass filter and served in brass davara set. I am always grateful to this noble lady for her gracious gift.
My experience with coffee
My first experience with coffee was in the year 1950 prepared by my mother in our village Someswaram. My grandfather Shri Yenugu Krishna Murthy Garu is a connoisseur of coffee and he was one of those privileged people in the village to have coffee in those days .My grandfather used to buy coffee beans in bulk from the nearest town Rajahmundry and store them. My mother is to pick up one week’s consumption, roast them to a dark brown colour and pound them to a fine granular powder.Subsequently he used to buy fresh readymade powder. There were no metallic coffee filters available those days around my village. My mother used to keep coffee powder in a bronze tumbler and pour over it hot boiling water and keep a lid for brewing. Then she used to filter the brew through a fine cloth which would allow the fine decoction to filter down and arresting the residue. We used to call the process Gudda coffee (“gudda” means cloth in Telugu). My next taste of coffee is in Kakinada, Dwaraka Lunch Home in the year 1956. I did not know how it is made but there is nothing special to mention about it.
My first real filter coffee experience was at Madras (present day Chennai)in the year 1961.My sister and brother-in-law used to stay in West Mambalam, Madras, the core area for typical Tamil culture. My sister adapted quickly to Tamil culture, particularly to the early morning filter coffee and I had my first taste of filter coffee in my sister’s home. When I used to go for a stroll in the streets of Mambalam in the morning, the air was filled with aroma of freshly ground coffee and occasionally mixed with fragrance of jasmine flowers from the plaited hair of passing by women, with M.S Subbalakhmi rendering Venkateswara Suprabhatam in her melodious voice, the gents with “Hindu” newspaper sipping hot fresh filtered coffee.I cannot forget this nostalgic experience of my early days at Madras. Subsequently, I stayed in Chennai for 12 years from 1967 to 1973 and from 1983 to 1989. But by then the cultural romance has gone out of daily life.
How to prepare good south Indian filter coffee.
The taste and Aroma of the coffee comes from quality seeds like Pea berry, Plantation, Arabica and Robusta. You can also use the combination of these two verities of seeds to get the best out of the both seeds. The seeds have to be roasted to dark brown shade till they emit the deep aroma of the roasted coffee.The roasted seeds are to be grounded to granular powder neither too fine nor too rough.It is ideal to grind coffee powder just before the filtration by using the traditional hand grinding machine. Addition of Chicory is optional.Some people like to add chicory because it gives extra texture and colour to the coffee.Taste of the coffee also depends on the quality of water used and the milk.Ground water with lot of minerals,corporation water with too much of chlorination will spoil the taste of the coffee.Use good potable water for making decoction.The milk should be fresh and thick to get the real zing out of the coffee.In this occasion I should mention about the “Degree Coffee of KumbaKonam” which is very popular for its authentic south Indian filter coffee.In southern states like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, Coffee is affectionately called as “kaapi”. In Tamil Nadu hotels, restaurants and dairies buy milk from the vendors by testing the quality of the milk with a lactometer and the quality is rated in degrees.Hence any milk that measure up to the degree standard is called degree milk. In Kumbakonam, coffee is prepared with degree standard milk and hence it is called as “Kumbakonam degree coffee”.
How to prepare a good South Indian Filter coffee
1- Boil pure water(mineral water recommended) in a steel vessel.
2- fill the upper chamber of the coffee filter with fresh coffee powder depending on the size of the coffee filter and the number of coffee tumblers required.Minimum you should keep fourheaped tea spoon full of coffee powderif the filter is small and six if the filter is large. If you keep less,the water will just run away from the upper chamber without percolation. Even for single person there should be a minimum amount required.If the number of tumblers required is more additional coffee powder is to be added.
3- The coffee powder in the upper chamber should not be too loose or too tight. Just press the coffee powder with your fingers gently. If it is too loose hot water will just run through the powder without any percolation. If the powder is too tight the water settles down on top of the powder and will not percolate down and even if it does it takes lot of time.
4- Place the plunger on top of the coffee powder.
5- Place the upper chamber on the top of the lower chamber tightly.
6-Pour the boiling water on top of the plunger and keep the lid.
7- Keep aside the filter for 20 to 30 minutes for brewing. The decoction will be collected in the bottom chamber.
8- Boil the fresh degree milk in a stainless steel vessel.
9- Take the tumbler from the davara set, add 1/2 inch level of filtered decoction, and add hot milk to the required strength of the coffee.If you want your coffee to be strong add less milk and for lighter coffee add more milk. Add sugar as per the taste. The proportion of milk to the decoction has to be experimented initially till you hit the required taste.
10- Hold the coffee tumbler in your right hand and the davara saucer in your left hand and start whisking the coffee from tumbler to saucer and saucer to tumbler in quick motions repeatedly for three or four times till a nice brown froth is collected by the aerated coffee. Take care not to spill the coffee in the process. By practice you develop the art of whisking the coffee.
11- Keep the coffee tumbler in the davara saucer and serve.
The culture of Coffee Serving
The tradition of serving coffee in davara set started with the practice of echai(no contact with saliva) by orthodox Iyer and Iyengar and other Brahmin families of Tamil Nadu. With echai practice the tumbler should not touch the lips and hence they used to drink coffee by pouring directly into the mouth from a respectable distance. To regulate the heat of the coffee to avoid the burning of the mouth, the saucer is used to cool the coffee till right temperature is arrived.Then the coffee is transferred to the tumbler and then to the mouth. The davara saucer is also used to whisk the coffee into the tumbler and vice versa to aerate and achieve the right temperature.
It is a tradition in Tamil Nadu to offer coffee to the guests. The coffee should be a filtered coffee served very hot. It is considered as bad manners if you serve cold or staple coffee and there are chances that the guests will get offended.
In some traditional families the coffee filter should be brass (not stainless steel) and served in brass davaa set. The well maintained brass items shine like gold and brass is considered as Laksmipradam (equivalent to goddess Lakshmi). In some well to do Tamil families, they also use silver coffee filter and silver davara set. As a mark of respect, most Tamil families offer the coffee made out of the first collection of the decoction to the elders of the families.
The Modern coffee house sand coffee bars.
Time has its own magical effect on people.Things have changed.Now with NRI culture huge coffee mugs have taken the place of good old davara sets. The convenience of instant coffee has taken upper hand over the time consuming filtered coffee.The beautiful coffee filters have become a collector’s items.
Now, the youngsters prefer the modern coffee houses that sprang in all cities and towns.These places are trendy lounges where people can sit leisurely and sip mugs and mugs of coffee with friends or with laptops in front .Drinking coffee in joints like Cafe Coffee Day,Barista,Costa coffee, cafe Mocha and Starbucks is all about cooling with friends and catching up social get-together.Coffee today signifies bonding and great reason to spend time with people you like.Inthese up market cafes you get variety of coffee selections with really magical names.I have tried some of these coffee menu and I am sure you may also would like to try if not already done.
Expresso: Expresso is a strong black coffee made by forcing steam through dark- roast aromatic coffee beans at high pressure. A perfectly brewed expresso will have a thick, golden brown foam on the surface. Adding a dollop of steamed milk completes the drink.
Cappuccino: A Cappuccino is a combination of equal parts espresso, steamed milk and milk froth. This luxurious drink, if made properly, can double up as a desert with its complex flavours and richness.It is common to sprinkle unsweetened cocoa powder or grated dark chocolate.Iced Cappuccino makes a great summer drink.
Americano: An Americano is a single shot of expresso added to a cup of hot water. Many coffee houses have perfected this brew which is a creamy, rich coffee that one can savour.Get the maximum flavour from your Americanoby keeping the amount of milkto a minimum.
Caffe Latte: This is a single shot of expresso mixed with three parts of steamed milk.Pair this with cookies,sponge cakes and even Italian bread for a unique and satisfying breakfast.
Caffe Mocha (Mochachino):This is Cappuccino or Caffe Latte with either chocolate syrup or powdered chocolate.This versatile drink can be made in several ways.Add cocoa powder or grated chocolate for flavour and garnish with whipped cream to make it more delish.
Caramel Macchiato: The most common method of making caramel maccciato is by combining espresso,carameland foamed milk.Steamed milk is usedsometimes and vanilla is often added for extra flavour. You can add sugar as well,but be warned, the drink is already sweet as it is.A caramel sauce topping makes it all the more lip-smacking.
Long Black: As the name suggests,this is a cup of rich-bodied black coffee,and black coffee alone.It is usually made by topping a single shot of espresso with a cup of hot water,with or without sugar.
Flat White: This is ideal for those who enjoy the strength of cappuccino,but not the foam that goes with it.To make a flat white,simply top up an espresso with steamed milk,but make sure that you only add the milk and not the foam.
The story of coffee- How it is discovered
I will not be doing justice to this article if we do not appreciate how this wonderful drink is discovered and passed on to our generation for us to enjoy and admire. I read from Wikipedia that a goat-herder discovered this coffee plant and the story goes like this
“ A 9th-century Ethiopian goat-herder, Kaldi, who, noticing the energizing effects when his flock nibbled on the bright red berries of a certain bush, chewed on the fruit himself. His exhilaration prompted him to bring the berries to a Monk in a nearby monastery. But the monk disapproved of their use and threw them into the fire, from which an enticing aroma billowed and the monks came out to investigate. The roasted beans were quickly raked from the embers, ground up and dissolved in hot water, yielding the world’s first cup of coffee. The story is first known to appear in writing in 1671, and thus may be fanciful.”
The antique brass and bronze pots shown here are exclusively used for cooking Andhra Curries. In traditional Andhra meal there will be five items invariably – Muddapappu, curry, chutney, pulusu, rasam and curds or butter milk with lots of accompaniments like pickles, powders, appadam, vadiyalu, ooramirapakayalu etc. Out of all Andhra meal items curry, known as koora takes an important position. It is the main dish. So the success of the meal depends on the success of the curry. Hence dedicated vessels are used to prepare this important dish. I have collected four curry pots and out of them two are from Andhra and two are from Tamil Nadu.The curry pots from Andhra are made with brass metal and called kooraginny and the ones from Tamil Nadu are made with bronze metal and called vengalapannai. Both the varieties have different shape though the utility and the functionality are same. In Hindi language curry pot is called handi.
The Andhra Brass curry pots have beautiful shape that serve both for functional purpose and aesthetic value.The” U” shaped coking vessel has a thick body so that the heat is distributed uniformly and the curry is cooked evenly.The brass pot has wide open mouth to facilitate easy movement of the ladle that is used for stirring the contents for uniform cooking.There is a wide rim at the mouth of the vessel so that the vessel is not slipped at the time of handling and to have a firm grip.The wide mouth with the rim also helps in sealing the mouth with a metal plate to prevent the spicy vapors going out of the pot and preserve the moisture.
The Tamil Nadu counterparts have a lovely bowl like shape with narrow base and wide mouth.There is a grove between the main body of the cooking pot and the opening.This groove is designed for the hand grip and gives excellent aesthetic sense.The narrow base allows the flames of the fire stretch up to the full length of the pot giving the pot uniform heat for excellent cooking results.I have acquired these enchanting pieces from an antique dealer in Madras, now called as Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu state.
The Andhra pots are the family inheritance. These pots were used by my mother and she used to turn out very delicious curries from these beauties. I also understand that my grandfather’s mother-in-law, KavammaGaru (garu is a respectable way of addressing elders), alsoused these wonderful pots for cooking mouth-watering curries. Her special dish was Vankaya karampettina koora. I understand that in our village Someswaram, the neighbours of our house used to plead with KavammaGaru to prepare this special dish and she used to prepare and distribute to them and enjoy such service as a gesture of good will. Even after her death, whenever they think of Kavammagaru, they used to praise her Vankaya karampettina koora. I am presenting the recipe of this wonderful dish passed on from Kavammagaru to my mother and there upon from my mother to my sisters and later to my wife. This antique brass curry pot and the recipe of Vankaya karampettina koora are more than 100 years old .The recipe is preserved and practiced by my wife so that we do not lose touch of this rare delicious dish.
How to cook Vankaya Kharampettina koora in Antique brass curry pot
The recipe for Vankaya Kharampettina koora
The speciality of the vankaya karampettina koora is that it is stuffed with a spicy powder of lentils, fenugreek seeds and redchillies. The fine taste of Indian lentils combined with the flavour of fenugreek seeds and the hot taste of red roasted chillies gives this dish a rare combination of taste that is to be experienced. The name Vankaya karampettina koora means the brinjal stuffed with hot spices. The brinjal is also called as aubergine or eggplant.
12 fresh tender purple brinjals of round shape.
2 table spoons of Sanagapappu (Bengal gram)
2 table spoons of Minapapappu (Black gram)
Menthulu: 1/2 table spoon of Menthulu (fenugreek seeds)
10to12 Medium sized red dry chillies.
Wash thoroughly the brinjals with the stalks. Trim the stalk ends.
To prepare the stuffing powder:
Take the antique brass curry cooking pot and heat it moderately on fire.Add ½ a table spoon of oil. When the oil is on medium heat add fenugreek seeds first followed by Bengal gram, black gram and red chillies cut into pieces.Fry till the grams take a golden brown colour and the red chillies take a darker shade of colour.Remove from the heat and cool the mixture in a plate.Put the mixture in a grinder and grind to a granular powder.Powder should not be too fine.It should be granular.
Prepare the brinjal for stuffing:
Take each brinjal and slit the bottom end upwards towards the stem till you reach the ¾ length of the brinjal .Make another similar slit from the bottom of the brinjal this time at right angles to the previous slit thus slitting the brinjalinto 4 sections. Now the brinjal is ready for stuffing. Now stuff the powder into the slit sections of each brinjal till it holds. Stuff all brinjals.
Cooking the stuffed brinjal:
Heat 2 table spoons full of oil in the antique brass cooking pot .Add the stuffed brinjals one by one. Stir the brinjals in the vessel so that the oil is smeared to each brinjal. Scatter the remaining powder over the brinjals. Sprinkle ¼ cup of water on the brinjals in the curry pot and cover with a thick plate as a lid on the pot, pour ¼ a cup of water in the plate, keep the fire in low and let the contents simmer on a low fire for 20 minutes.The water in the cover plate gets heated and there is heat surrounding the entire curry pot. This gives uniform heat to the brinjals for excellent cooking and seals the juices and flavors inside the pot. Keep tossing the brinjals occasionally by tilting the curry pot with jerks by holding the rim of the pot with a dry cloth. Stirring by ladle may damage the shape of the brinjal. Cook for another 20 minutes or till the brinjals are well cooked to a tender soft condition. When you take them into serving dish hold each brinjal by stem or use a flat spoon like atlakada or dosa ladle.
This vintage brass 5-tier tiffin box was used by me during my school days to carry lunch to my school. I was born in the year 1940. My grandfather who was a head master for the only elementary school we had in our village Someswaram, in the East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh, India, had admitted me into the school when I was five years old after doing proper pooja and ceremonial Akharabhyasam (writing OM first time on the slate). I started going to school along with my grandfather Sri Yenugu Krishna Murthy carrying a palaka and balapam (stone slate and stone pencil) in a cotton bag. This was all my school kit. I graduated from 5th standard when I was 10 years old and that was the maximum education my school could offer. The nearest high school was 5 kilometres away and the only way to reach there was by a bicycle. Since I was considered as too young to go alone on a bicycle, my grandfather decided I should stay with my uncle Sri Rajupanthlu garu in the town Peddapuram.
I was admitted in the ULCM High School, Peddapuramin the 1st form (now equivalent of 6th standard) and I successfully completed my 3rd form when I was 13 years old. By then, I was considered eligible to ride a bicycle. So I was shifted back to our village Someswaram and got admitted in a high school in a village named Rayavaram about 5 kilometres from my village. I got a new cycle and a tiffin carrier with 5 boxes in the year 1953. I do not know if I got a brand new lunch box or an already old one by then. Let us consider that as new at that time. That brings us to the age of this 5-tier brass tiffin box set at 60 years old.
This 13 inches tall lunch carrier has an assembly of five containers- a large one with 3 inches height, three medium sized ones with 2 inches height and a one small one (5th one) with one inch height. All the round boxes are 4.5 inches wide (diameter). All the five containers are held tight by a brass strap frame resembling an inverted “U”shape that has a bent at the top. The two parallel sections have grooves that fit snugly into the knobs on the lower container. The upper most box tightly fits into the bent part of the “U”. The top part of the “U” is used as a handle to carry the tiffin carrier assembly. There is an aluminium spoon that holds the boxes and the frame together. The brass frame has two holes at the bent, and the top vessel lid has a knob with one hole. When the frame is pushed on to the five container assembly, the two holes in the frame and the hole at the top box lid come in a single straight line and the aluminium spoon is inserted through the 3 holes. That seals the assembly tight.
The lunch carrier has a stamping on the top vessel cover reading as ” 41/2“meaning there are four and half containers in the assembly.The top box which is of 1 inch height is considered as half box. There is also another stamping giving the patent details reading as “Patent1937 HK22729”. This reveals that this design was patented in the year 1937. I do not know who the manufacturer is but with the help of patent number maybe we can find the manufacturer. All the vessels are coated with tin coating, locally known as tagarampoota. This coating is given to prevent the contact of the food with brass metal since brass reacts chemically with certain types of food materials, particularly Tamarind juice, which is profusely used in Andhra food preparations, and also with lime juice.That is precisely the reason as to why an Aluminium spoon is used instead of a brass spoon.The spoon is used for locking purpose and also as a spoon for serving and eating purpose.You cannot eat food with brass spoon for the reason of chemical reaction. Hence aluminium spoon is used which serves both the purpose.
I used to start from home at 9 a.m. every day to school and my mother used to keep my lunch carrier, which she used to call it dabba, ready by the same time packed with hot food for my mid-day meal. She used to pack rice in the big dabba at the bottom, the second one with the pulusu or pappu, the third one with vegetable curry, the fourth one with curd and the top one with pickle. The pickle will be either Aavakaya with badda ( mango slice) or Maagaya with juicy tenka (mango seed). I used to keep the hot brass tiffin box into a cotton bag with handles and hang the bag on the left side of the handle bar of the cycle. My school books were pushed into another similar bag and it was hung on the right side of the handlebar. This was how my journey to school started. If there was an item of interest, it was the carrier. My mind would always be on the carrier instead of on the class subject and I would wait impatiently for the lunch time bell. The children of our village used to sit together and eat our lunch and most of the times we used to share our lunch. Our school used to be at the far end of the village amidst paddy fields.There used to be small canals (bodikalva) to irrigate the paddy fields. We would sit on the banks of these canals under a mango tree and eat lunch with a picnic atmosphere. After that we would wash our tiffin carrier in the canals, reassemble them and put it back in the cotton bag.
I was using this vintage brass lunch carrier for three years during my studies for 4th,5th forms and SSLC (Secondary School Leaving Certificate) which is equivalent to present day 10th. After my SSLC, I had gone to Kakinada to study my Intermediate in PR College. Thus, my cycle journey and my dear lunchbox carrier were given rest. While my cycle was disposed, I retained the brass lunch carrier, my companion for 3 years. It is now an integral part of my antiques collection. This fabulous 5-tier tiffin box is my goddess Annapoorna which fed me for three years in my life.
I do hope you enjoyed reading this posting on Vintage Tiffin Carrier as much as I did writing it. I love to receive your comments.
UPDATE – Jun 28, 2017
Take a look at the video that we’ve recently uploaded. Hope you like it.
Andhra food is very spicy, hot, pungent and aromatic. It is well known that Andhras take the hottest food in India. Within Andhra each region has its own flavours. The most distinct factor in Andhra food is its Talimpu technique of seasoning the dishes which gives spicy flavour to the dish. Talimpu is also called as Popu. My mother used to create wonderful spicy flavours with the Talimpu technique by selectively chosen spices for frying. She has a special iron Garite with long handle (ladle) in which she is to fry the spices for Talimpu by keeping the Garite in the fire wood flame and dipping the hot Garite in the main dish to flavour the main dish. I am going to tell you the story of this antique Popula Gatite and the mystery of creating tongue tickling spicy hot food with Talimpu art of cooking.
The Talimpu Garite or Popula Garite is made out of iron. We also used to call it Inapa Garite, meaning lron laddle. This Garite is exclusively designed and made only for Talimpu particularly for liquid dishes like Rasam and Pulusu. I know that my mother was using this Garite since 1950 .She told us that the Garite was there in the house before she took charge of the kitchen implying that the Garite has been used by her earlier generations. It will be easily over 100 years old.
What is Talimpu ?
Talimpu is a cooking technique in which whole spices seeds and other spicy items are fried in ghee or oil to liberate essential elements from the spices and thereby enhances their flavours .The fried spices are poured over the prepared main dish along with the ghee or oil. Other ingredients like ginger ,onions, green chillies and garlic are the add on items as per the taste preference. This kind of coking is used mainly in India and mostly in South India. The most distinct quality of Andhra food is its Talimpu also called as Popu. Talimpu is called Chaunk or Tarka or Tadka or Bagar in Hindi, Thaalithal in Tamil,Vaghaar in Gujarati,Phoron in Bengali,Fodni in Marathi,Oggarane in Kannada , Baghara in Oriya and Baghaar in Urdu.
There are two ways of Talimpu preparation. One way is to first prepare the Talimpu in a frying pan and then add the main dish to it cook the dish for some time along with the Talimpu.The second way is to cook the main dish first then add Talimpu to it just before serving the dish. Talimpu gariti is used for the second method of seasoning the main dish.
Items requied for Talimpu
Dry red chillies (yendu mirapa kayalu )
Cumin seeds ( jeela karra )
Mustard seeds (Aavalu )
Chana dal (sanaga pappu )
Urad dal (minapa pappu)
Oil or ghee for frying (nooni or Neyya)
Curry leaves ( Karivepaku )
Coriander leaves (kothimeeri)
Turmeric powder (pasupu podi )
fenugreek seeds (menthlu )
asafetida (Inguva )
Salt (uppu )
Zinger (Allam )
Garlic (velli ulli payalu )
Green chillie (pachhi mirapakayalu)
Onions (ulli payalu )
Talimpu-my nostalgic journey
My mother used to create wonderful flavours with this Talimpu garite. She would hold the tail of the Garite and put the cup part in the fire. When it is hot she used to pour ghee in the cup and wait till the ghee is hot. Then she used to pour aavalu (mustard seeds ) first and wait till they crackle and then add other ingredients of the Talimpu one by one according to the order of their frying time .The main secret of the taste and flavour of the Talimpu is to know the order in which the Talimpu ginjalu are to be added to the oil for roasting so that each seed is perfectly roasted to get the best flavour .She would then stir them dexterously by jerking the handle of the ladle with brisk wrist movement so that the ingredients in the cup were moved up and down so that nothing is over fried .Her remote stirring is so perfect that not even a single seed would fall into the fire. When the entire Popu is done with she will take out the cup from the fire and dip the entire cup of the Garite along with the Popu contents into pulusu or rasam .The immersion of the hot iron cup create big sizzling sound along with the crackling in the liquid and the surrounding areas were spread with hot spicy air. The spicy flavours in the air used to tickle our senses such as tears in the eyes, light cough from the lungs, saliva in the mouth, and sneezing or water drops from the nose. Such was the spectacular effect of my mother’s Popu on our senses. It creates the right stimulant for getting ready for the lunch or dinner.
The popu varies according to the item. This Gariti is used mainly for the liquid dishes so that the cup along with the Popu can be dipped in the liquid for a better effect of the taste. Further the hot iron addle when dipped in the liquid item will get some iron nutrients which is good for the health. The spices in the Talimpu help in digesting the food. The same goodness you will not get with a stainless steel ladle though it looks trendy to use.
My mother used to use the Inapa garite very effectively for preparing popu particularly for liquid dishes like Rasam and pulusu. Pulusu is a very special dish in Andhra meal which is not found in the rest of Indian culinary items. It is Talimpu that gives the Andhra food the very special pungent punch. To know more about Andhra food, Pulusu, and Popu please follow the link http://ykantiques.com/2012/07/antique-brass-serving-pots.html written by the same author .
If we need large quantities of Talimpu for items such as chutneys, pulihara or other varieties of rice dishes , my mother used to use mookudu (large frying pan ) for preparing the Talimpu.
Dal fry or Dal Bagar is a special dish of North India where Talimpu is added to the cooked dal.If the Bagar is first prepared and dal is added to that and cooked again it is called Dal fry.If the Dal is cooked and then Bagar is garnished on that then it is called Dal Bagar.