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Antique Hand-held Brass Fan

Antique hand-held brass fan with peacock neck handle
Antique hand-held brass fan with peacock neck handle

I am going to present to you an antique hand-held brass fan which I have collected recently that was used by a rich landlord during the Zamindari system in pre-independence India. This beautiful brass fan is acquired from a gentleman by name Adinarayanan whose great grandfather was working as a chief accountant for a wealthy landlord in present Tamil Nadu state,India somewhere in the pre-independence era or the early 19s.  It was given as a gift by the landlord to his Chief accountant for the services rendered to him. In the days of Rajas and Zamindars, it is a common practice to bestow gifts to the devoted persons as a mark of appreciation and honor. As it was heavy, the owner would have his servant to do the fanning during important social and cultural functions as it was considered a mark of status. It has been in Shri Adinarayana’s family for more than 3 generations.

 

The Design Of The Brass Hand-held Fan

This hand-held brass fan is designed to give appearance as a fan made out of Palmyra palmtree leaves which is used very common in those days and even now in rural areas of India as it is very handy, light and inexpensive. The fan is round in shape and the handle is designed to look like a peacock neck with the beak clutching the fan. There is a stitching design joining the leaves of the fan.There is a border design all around the periphery of the fan resembling the stitching the borders with a design to prevent the leaves from damage during handling.The whole fan is so ingeniously designed to combine esthetics with functionality.

Antique hand-held fan showing a peacock holding the fan with its beak
Antique hand-held fan showing a peacock holding the fan with its beak
Antique hand-held fan showing a peacock holding the fan with its beak
Antique hand-held fan showing a peacock holding the fan with its beak

The History And Evolution Of The Fan

Man is always in constant search of comfort and happiness. He has devised tools and implements that give him the desired level of comfort and a sense of feeling good. Man has developed ingenious methods to counter the vagaries of nature that make him uncomfortable and developed ways and means to be cozy and comfy.

He invented the primitive umbrella to protect himself from rain and covered himself with animal skin and cloth made out of plant material. To ward off oppressive heat and sultry weather, the primitive man made hand-held fans with dried leaves to create air movement around him to get relief from his discomfort. The very origin of primitive fans most likely was to hasten up the burning of fire and also to chase away the insects that disturbed the man and eventually acquired a prestigious place. For ages, long handled hefty fans were ritualistic symbols of supremacy, the privilege of Kings, Pharaohs and Priests. Even in present times, fans of this magnitude are ceremonially carried in formal religious processions.

The humble primitive fans have taken a different avatars as man improvised different verities with different materials as civilization progressed. He started making fans with feathers, ostrich plumes, ,bamboo, cane, palm leaves, roots, silk and cotton cloth, ivory, wood , fine metals and with as fragile as a butterfly`s wings. To enhance his comfort level, he developed larger fans that can be held and swung by other individuals like his servants and slaves. He also developed remote fanning device like Pankha that can be fixed above him and can be pulled by a rope held by a person sitting in a remote place. With the invention of electricity, man used this wonder power to create the present electric fan that provides him air by pressing a button. The simple fan has taken a very colorful journey through out the growth of civilization by serving the need of a common man to, nobles, kings, queens and gods as well. It became part of religious rituals and a mark of social status symbol.

A hand-held fan made out of fragrant roots called VattiVeru resembling the design of the antique brass hand-held fan
A hand-held fan made out of fragrant roots called VattiVeru resembling the design of the antique brass hand-held fan
Hand –held brass fan showing the design joining the leaves and boarder design around the edge of the fan
Hand –held brass fan showing the design joining the leaves and boarder design around the edge of the fan

Hand Held Fans – My Childhood Memories

 It is considered as a good deed if you gift to someone a fan during the summer seasons of India. In my village Someswaram, Andhra Pradesh, India, Sri Rama Navami, the birth day of Lord Rama is celebrated in great devotion. Normally, this festival falls in the summer months of April or May. As a boy, I used to attend this festival being celebrated in our village temple without fail since I used to get a palm leaf fan and a mango fruit free.

In our area, it is a strong belief that if any one gifts a fan and a mango fruit during the summer season they acquire lot of divine blessings. Imagine someone doing that now in this modern age. Picture yourself walking up to your friend or relative and gifting them a fan and one single mango fruit? How do you think they would react?

Anyways, getting back to the past, sometimes we used to get two or three fans also if there are more than one donor.We never had electricity in our house and the only source of getting some air is by these palm leaf fans.It is a regular even practice in our home that preparation of bed for the night include a leaf fan next to the pillow. We used to do self-fanning with our hands alternately till the fan automatically dropped out once sleep set in.

Truly Multi-Purpose!

This fan has a multi-purpose use. My mother used to use these fans for airing the charcoal stove to get the required flame for cooking food. My grandfather used these fans to chase away the flies during his mid-day mango feasting session.My grandfather was a mango lover and during the season he used to eat 10 to 12 fruits daily during the afternoons after soaking the mangoes in a large brass vessel for an hour to cool them and wash them before eating.

Hand-held Fans In Religious Ceremonies

One of the devotional services rendered during Pooja ceremony to the Gods is Vinjamaramseva. Vinjamaramin Sanskrit means fan. After the Abhishekam (ceremonial bath), Harati (ceremonial camphor flame circled around the god) and Naivedyam(offering of food to the gods), Vinjamaramseva (fanning the god) is done in a traditional pooja.

It is written in Aagamasastra (the scriptures that describe the religious pooja ceremony) how to do a traditional pooja ceremony to different Gods and Goddesses.One of the most important rituals is to wave the fan in front of the God to circulate air around him.This is done in two ways:

the hand-held fans generally made out of wood or bamboo covered with silk cloth with frills around it

(or)

With onemade out of metals like brass,silver and gold or with peacock feathers.

Chamaram- The fan made out of the tail hair of the Yak
Chamaram- The fan made out of the tail hair of the Yak

.

Picture showing chamaram being waved in front of the deity at the ceremonial Pooja time
Picture showing chamaram being waved in front of the deity at the ceremonial Pooja time

There is another type of fan called as chamaram, made out of the hair from the tail of a yak. Chamaram is of a different shape.One end of the Yak hair is inserted into a handle made out of a metal.The other end of the hair is spread out loose.These types of fans are used in the religious Pooja ceremonies of Hindu, Buddhist and Jain temples as well.

The Yak tail hair is considered as sacred.The Yak is an animal belonging to cattle family with long hair found in the Himalayan region of southern part of the central Asia,Tibet, Mongolia and as north as Russia.

Pankha – A Hand Operated Hanging Fan

 

Pankha is a hanging fan invented by Britishers during their British rule in India to have a constant supply of air to get relief from the oppressive heat in India. Pankha is made in a rectangular shape with a combination of wood and cloth, with or without frills, hung to a ceiling with ropes and pulleys and pulled with a rope to create fanning movement. The pankhas subsequently became a common sight in royal and aristocratic families,in the offices of the Britishers and high ranking officers. The rope is pulled by a rope-puller who sits outside the pankha room and pulls the rope repeatedly in a front and back motion. During the British rule, there was a permanent post called “Pankha Puller”and the person holding that job was a proper government employee in many offices. You must have seen something similar in old Hindi and Telugu movies.

Picture showing the Pankha hanging from the roof of the room with ropes and pulleys in a vintage house
Picture showing the Pankha hanging from the roof of the room with ropes and pulleys in a vintage house

I had this wonderful experience of seeing a Pankha being pulled by a peon in a judicial court. I  completed my class 7(seventh standard, then known as 2nd form) in a town called Peddapuram in Andhra Pradesh in the year 1953 staying in the house of my maternal uncle Shri. Rajapantulu. My uncle used to work for a lawyer and he used to be in the court during the court timings between10.00 AM to 5.00 PM.

If I had to see him for any purpose, I used to go to the court. The court was a huge British type of building with high ceiling and there used to be a Pankha on the ceiling above the place where the judge sits.There used to be apankha puller, an old man with official peon uniform which consisted of a turban, white trouser or dhoti and a white closed neck top, a cotton belt around his waist and a wide cotton belt across his chest resting on his left shoulder and draping on to the right side of the waist holding a brass rectangular plate that is inscribed with the name of his office.

Certain Interesting FactsAbout Hand-held Fans

 – Christopher Columbus brought a feather fan,among other items from newly discovered America and gifted it to Queen Elizabeth.

 – There is a museum dedicated to fans in 12 Crooms Hill, Greenwich,London SE10 8ER..

 -Even in present times,fans of large size are ceremonially carried in Christian papal processions.

So that’s the story of the fan that I acquired. If you have any memories of using one or seeing one used in the days back then, do share your experience or memory of it. Would love to hear from you.

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Jaadis – The Ceramic Jars For Pickles

 

 

 

 

These beautiful ceramic jaadis you see in the pictures are used for storing pickles.These are known as pingani jaadi or peengan jaadi in south India meaning that they are made out of porcelain.These double colour beauties mostly in white and brown combination are pride of the kitchen few decades ago.They come in various sizes from huge jaadis for storing pickles for the entire year consumption for those large combined families to small ones to store ghee and curds for daily consumption. These marvellous jaadis come in different shapes but invariably in double colours of brown and white. The standard shape is a tall and cylindrical called kola jaadi. They come in the shape of yellow pumpkin called gummadikaya jaadi or Parangi jaadi. They also come with big belly with narrow base and opening and these are called gundrapujaadi. While in entire south they are called Jaadi (singular) in Kerala state alone they are called Bharani. In plural, they are called jaadis or jaadeelu.

With declining of combined families and increasing mini families in tiny apartments, the concept of storing anything for a long time has given way to use and throw culture. With the onset of such culture the large jaadis have given way to plastic small bottles that meant for use and throw. These lovely jaadis have disappeared from the households and became the rare items for antique collectors. I am fortunate enough to inherit and collect some of these enchanting pickle jars. Some of the families who still value the traditional way of living and who knew the value of storing items in porcelain containers still consider old is gold and use these jaadis. Our elders believed that the health depends on not only what we eat but also what vessels we use for cooking, storing and serving what we eat and drink. They used Brass and bronze vessels for cooking, copper vessels for water storage and jaadis for storing items like pickles, and many other food items and they believed that the properties of the vessel mixed with the food enhance the nutritional value of the food and keep them healthy and happy. Our experience shows our elders were immune to the several diseases that the present generation is suffering. The traditionalists claim that the vessels used for cooking in the bygone days made the fundamental difference.They lived much healthier and happier than our present generation which discarded our traditional cooking and eating style and diverged to fast food and micro woven grade plastics.

 

Jadeelu in a row

 

I have grown in Jaadi culture. We used to have these handsome jaadis of all sizes in our house in my village Someswaram. We were having large jaadis for storingdifferent varieties of mango pickleslike aavakaya, menthikaya, maagaya and tokkudupachadi for the entire year. The smaller sizes of the jaadis were used to take a small portion of the pickles from the large jaadis for a weekly consumption and for daily serving. Once the small jaadis were empty they were recharged with the pickles and this process continued till the large jaadis were empty. Normally the mango pickle season starts from the months of April and May and all the jaadis will be full with pickles. As we start consuming they become empty sometimes by February or March. By then tender raw mangoes start coming in and my mother used to prepare temporary pickles out of these mangoes.These temporary mango pickles are not prepared as ceremonially as the annual pickles and there will be some compromise on the quality of ingredients since it is meant to be provisional and has to be consumed in a short time till we make the standard variety of pickles.

 

Cylindrical jaadis- kola jaddelu

 

The Pickle season is a busy time in our house. The jaadis are cleaned and sun dried.There should not be any iota of moisture in the jaadis since moister spoils the pickle.They were sun dried at least three consecutive days. After that they are covered with lid and a cloth and kept them in the corner of the kitchen where nobody will enter.Then there will be exchange of notes with relatives and neighbours as to what varietyof mangoes,chillies and mustard seeds they would be buying and from where and their relative merits and demerits.There will be discussion on what they purchased last year and how good or bad the results were.The next major ingredient is oil and the success of the annual pickle depends on the quality of the oil. Only nuvvulanoone (oil extracted from sesame seeds also known as gingili seeds) is used for preparing aavakaaya and other pickles. My maternal grandfather used to cultivate gingili oil seeds and he used to send us for our annual consumption of gingili oil. For aavakaaya season we used to take the  sun dried sesame seeds to our local oil man known as telukuliwadu who has a native oil crusher comprising wooden drum with a log like crushing pestle powered by a bullock and the entire crushing devise is called ganugu. The Telukuliwadu would keep the gingili seeds and a little bit of jaggery into the wooden drum, keep the wooden crusher in the position, make few adjustments and give command to the bullock to move.The bullock will move in circular motion and the crusher will move around the inside of the wooden drum crushing the oil seeds. After 2 hours of slow and constant crushing the oil will form in the basin of the drum which will be collected. I used to sit on the wooden plank connecting the crusher and the bullock and have a circular ride. The oil is transferred into the brass oil cans and carried to the house.

 

2 litre jaadi with big round belly- gundrapu jaadi with manufacturer “Parrys” name inscription

 

We used to have dedicated mango trees exclusively meant for aavakaaya pickle. People will go to the tree owner and purchase the required quantity from him. Only selected mangoes will be plucked. Fortunately we had our own mango tree in our fields and our requirement of mangoes used to come from this tree.The remaining mangoes will be left on the tree to be plucked latter for mango fruits.

Once all ingredients are in place my mother would consult the panchangam, the Hindu calendar for a good day and time for preparing the aavakaya. Aavakaaya should be prepared when here is no bad time like Varjam, durmuhurtham, Rahukalam and yamagandam, It is a custom in those days to invite   elders to prepare the avakkaya. It is a way of showing respect and honouring the elders.My mother used to invite the wife of my grandfather’s brother; a widow, by name Pullamma for this auspicious ceremony. Aavakaya is prepared with devotion and under strict hygienic conditions. Pullammagaru is to put pasupubottlu(haldi dots )to the jaadis since jaadis are considered as Lakshmi pradam and they are treated with adoration.  Pullammagaru is to wear a madibatta(a cloth washed, dried and untouched by others) after taking a head bath and then only she would start preparing aavakaya. The entire family is to participate actively and the ceremony is to be a fun and great get- together. My paternal uncle, Baapi Raju garu, used to cut the mangos into right size pieces with the special mango chopper called mamidikaya kathipeeta. Great skill is involved in cutting a mango for the purpose of aavakaya since the mango has to be sliced with a single stroke.The mango pulp should not be pressed but sliced.The size of the cut pieces is very important in the preservation of the aavakaya.If the pieces are too small they will lose the crispness and become soggy. If the pieces are too big the essence of the mango juices will not be released into the mixture with the result we do not get the right consistency and taste. The mango should be cut along with the Tenka (seed).Me and my sisters used to clean the cut mango pieces with a clean cloth and take out the Jeedi (kernel) from the Tenka and the thin layer between the tenka and the jeedi. My mother used to help her by providing necessary ingredients, utensils and jaadis timely to make her job easy. Pullammagaru her own recipe and style for preparing aavakaya. 

 

Raw mangoes for aavakaya pickle
Raw mangoes for aavakaya pickle

 

Cutting the raw mangoes with special cutter (maamidi kaya Katti peeta)
Cutting the raw mangoes with special cutter (maamidi kaya Katti peeta)

 

Before starting the process Pullammagaru used  to do a prayer and put pasupubottle (haldi dots )to the jaadis since jaadis are considered as Lakshmi pradam and they are treated with adoration. After preparing the aavakaya ooragaya (pickle) it is stored in jaadilu and it is topped with a layer of oil .The oil prevents any moister coming into contact with the aavakayapachadi. After that the mouth of the jaadi is covered with clean white cloth called vasin iin Telugu and vaedu in Tamil and put the lid over the cloth.The secret behind covering the opening of the jaadi with cotton cloth is that cotton cloth will absorb the moisture around the jaadi and prevent the moisture thus entering into the jar. Even by chance any moisture enters the jaadi, the oil layer will prevent the moister come in contact with the pickle. The aavakaya is allowed to do its magical chemistry for three days and during these 3 days it is not disturbed.After three days my mother will wear madibatta and open the jaadi, stir the contents thoroughly with a ladle .She will transfer a small portion into a small jaadi for us to have a first time taste of the new aavakaya. From the day of preparation of aavakaya till the third day people wait impatiently to taste the first morsel of this red delight. Then starts the process of distribution to kith and kin. The aavakaya is first distributed to the families of sons and daughters. Small quantities of aavakaya packed in small jaadis or glass bottles is distributed to relatives and neighbours as an exchange of good will and  wait for their compliments. Similarly neighbours and relatives would also reciprocate the nice gesture of exchanging aavakaya. This mutual exchange is a part of the aavakaya culture.

After the demise of Pullammagaru, my mother took charge of the annual aavakaya preparation ceremony. Subsequently my wife Ramana got interested in preparation of the special Andhra ooragayalu and she used to prepare the pickles with utmost tradition and devotion. She will personally go and select the red chillies. She will bring two types of chillies. One the traditional hot chillies meant for pickles and second the Kashmiri variety which are not so hot but will give beautiful natural red colour to the aavakaya. Her pickles are a real success and she will invariably get lot of compliments from the friends and relatives. Even while we were in Mumbai, the great metro city, Ramana managed to get the traditional Gujarati women who will hand pound the chillies with the wooden rolu and rokali (large size mortar and pestle).After the decline of hand pounding services, she started using the milled powder.She would personally go to the market and select the mangoes after tasting them for correct pulupu and kanda (sourness and pulp). She is now a veteran in preparing traditional Andhra ooragayalu and her best bet is Menthi kaayapickle.

The favourite pickle of Tamilians “Vadumaangai“ is stored in the large peengan jaadis.Vadumaangai is prepared with tender green mangoes and preserved for a year.Similarly in Kerala “Uppumanga” is prepared with tender mangoes and this pickle is stored in brine in large Bharani.

 

The curd and butter milk is also stored in Jaadilu. During my days in our village, If any guests come to our house and adequate quantity of curds were not available,I used to go to the curd vendors and fetch the curds.The ladies in the farming community in our village used to sell curds stored in small jaadis. You have to pick up the number of jaadis you require and the curd is measured by jaadis. We used to take 3 or 4 jaadis and return the empty jaadis after use. Sometimes my mother used to keep a jaadi full of curds next to the plate and the guests would empty the jaadis. The curds prepared in jaadis taste excellent.

These jaadis are neutral in nature and do not affect or alter the taste,flavour and colour of the contents .The porcelain is a good preservative and keeps germs, bacteria and fungus away and thus the ideal jars to preserve pickles, chutneys and other long stored food items.We should admire the wisdom of our elders in selecting the ceramic jaadis for storage of food items .In our house and in my relatives house the jaadis are used to store jaggery, tamarind, turmeric, red chilli powder, salt, Gongoora chutney, tomato  pickle, usirikai(amla)chutney, drumsticks pickle and Ghee.

Special Red chillies for aavakaya
Special Red chillies for aavakaya

 

Cut mangoes ready for aavakaya pickle

 

Mixing the ingredients of aavakaya

 

 

How to make Andhra Special MamidikayaAavakaya

Ingredients:

Raw mangoes: 8 numbers medium sized (approximately 9 cups of Cut Mango)

Avalapodi (Mustard powder)      : 2 cups
Karampodi ( Chilli powder)          : 2 cups                             

Uppu (salt)   powdered                   : 1.5 cups

Menthulu (Fenugreek Seeds)       : 2 tbsp

Pasupu (Turmeric)                           : 1/2tbsp
Nuvvulanoone (Gingili Oil)           : 3 cups.
Garlic flakes                                         : 1/2 cup (optional)

 

 

 

Procedure

 

  •  Step-1: Clean the mangoes with water and dry them thoroughly with a clean dry cloth.Cut them into 12 pieces along with the seed. Remove jeedi and the thin layer.wipe them with cotton clean cloth.Keep them aside 
  •  Step-2: Take a big bowl that will accommodate all the ingredients. Place mustard powder, salt, turmeric power, garlic flakes and the fenugreek seeds in the bowl and mix them thoroughly.Add little oil to wet them. 
  • Step-3:Put handful of mango pieces into the masala mixture and roll them in the mixture so that the entire surface of the mango pieces are covered with the masala powder.
  •  Step-4: Take a dry Jaadi and pour little oil into the jaadi to wet the bottom. Now place the marinated mango pieces in the jaadi. Put little oil on the top of the mango pieces. Repeat this process till all the cut mangoes are covered with masala powder and placed in the jaadi.
  • Step-4: Put some oil on the top of the pickle and cover the opening of the jaadi with the lid. Then cover the opening with a clean cotton cloth and seal with a rope. This ritual of covering and tying the jadi opening with the cloth is known as  vasini kattadam 
  •  Step-5: The jaadi should be left alone for three consecutive days without disturbing the contents.In these 3 days the mango pieces,the masala powders, the oil and the salt mix and create the magical taste, texture and flavour that is unique to aavakaya. Remove the seal after 3 days and mix the aavakaya with a long dry ladle.Notice the red oil floating on top of the pickle known as oota. Oota is the sour juice of the mango extracted by the salt and mixed with the chilli essence and the oil. 
  • Step-6: Now the Andhra special  fresh maamidi kaiaavakai ooragaya is ready for serving
Aavakaya preparation in progress

 

Mango pieces marinated with pickle masala

 

 

 

 

Varieties in aavakaya

 

In aavakaya itself there are so many verities.The traditional and proper aavakaya is prepared invariably in all Andhra houses and also some few different varieties of the aavakaya are also prepared. I am listing here some of the other varieties of the aavakaya.

  • Bellam Aavakaya: Bellam( jaggery) is added to the aavakaya to get that experience of sweet and hot taste at the same time coupled with the sour taste of mango and spicy taste of mustard powder.
  • Allam Aavakaya: Ginger garlic paste is added to the regular aavakaya for that extra spicy effect.
  • Gutty Aavakaya: The mango is not cut into pieces but sliced to the half way through from the top end and half way through from the bottom end. AAvakaya spices are stuffed into the sliced sections.Rest of the process is same.
  • Pachakaram Aavakaya: Instead of red chilli powder, yellow chilli powder is used. Yellow chillies are grown in the area around Gollaprolu and Pitthapura in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh) .The yellow chilies are also known as gollaprolu  mirapakayalu which have a unique taste.
  • Nuvvula aavakaya: powdered sesame is added to the aavakaya.
  • Pulihora aavakaya: Pulihora talimpu or seasoning (known as Chaunk or tadka in Hindi) is added to the regular aavakaya for that special flavour.
  • Menthi aavakaya: Menthi powder (fenugreek powder) is added along with the mustard powder in this variant of aavakaya for that peculiar menthi taste.
  • Vellulli aavakaya: Vellullipayalu (garlic flakes with the skin are added to aavakaya. The oota will enter into the garlic flakes and when chewed gives a heady taste.
  • Yendu aavakaya: The traditional aavakaya is sun dried in the jaadi several times till the entire oota is absorbed by the mango pieces.Yendu aavakaya pieces go very well with curd rice.
  • Usiri aavakaya:In place of green mango pieces, usirikaya (Indian gooseberry) is used as it is without cutting into pieces. The Usiri kaya is pierced with a tooth pick to form small holes to facilitate flow of juices. This aavakaya has medicinal effect according to Ayurveda.
  • Dosa aavakaya: Dosakaya (Yellow cucumber) is cut into pieces and are used in preparing aavakaya in place of mango.
  • Senagal aaavakaya: Sanagalu (Bengal gram, chanaor chickpeas) are added to the regular aavakaya.
Aavakaya ready to be put in the jaadi

 

Prepared aavakaya being transferred into jaadi

 

How aavakaya is consumed

Aavakaya is consumed mainly by Andhra people.Andhra is known as the rice bowl of India and the rice is the staple food of Andhras. They have invented various chutneys, pickles and powders that go excellently with rice.Andhra is also is the place where many varietiesof chillies are grown apart from mangoes, oil seeds like sesame and groundnuts.Ghee is also available plenty in this land. Using all these locally available ingredients, Andhras have since ages are patrons of good food with varieties of side and main dishes that go exceedingly well with rice. For many Andhras, aavakaya is a main dish. They mix aavakaya along with mango pieces, the sauce like pickle along with oota and pour liberal quantity of melted hot ghee with hot rice, make a round ball and consume with relish.For an onlooker fromdifferent region it would like as if they are consuming fire. Aavakaya is also taken as a side dish to enhance the taste of the main dish.The main dish of Mudda pappu with rice and ghee tastes heavenly with the aavakaya pickle as a side dish. Curd rice with aavakaya is a great combination. Aavakaya pickle is also taken as a side dish forIddli,dosa,Dibbarotti,and uppupindi. Aavakaya tastes fabulous within three months of its preparation (during this period it is fondly called Kothavakaya)and after that it slowly loses its zing.

Jaadeelu

 

The story of Jaadi

It is a wonder how jaadis emerged into our life and culture and ultimately settled as containers to our traditional pickles and other food items.In the early days all the pickles, curds, ghee etc are stored in earthen pots.I guess that During the British times they used to import chemicals in the glazed ceramic containers and after the consumption of the chemicals the empty porcelain jars are sold to the public. Because of their neutral nature people found them to be the ideal containers to use in place of earthen pots which are fragile in nature whereas porcelain containers are strong and heavy. The British standardised on the double colour of brown and white only to indicate that they contain chemicals and should be handle with care.With the popularity of these jars as a containers for various Indian food items,t hey are manufactured in India with the same colour combination for use in Indian market. These porcelain containers are subsequently acquired a native flavour and called as jaadis. Most of the jaadis I have seen carry the embossed inscription “Parrys”. Parrys is a famous British company established with its head office in Madras, the present Chennai,and the area near this company’s office even now known as Parrys corner. Subsequently Murugappa group acquired Parry and company. The porcelain division of Murugappa group stopped manufacture of Jaadis and are concentrating on bathroom porcelain utilities under brand name Parryware.

 

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Antique Glass Jar With Lid

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.

 

Antique glass jar with lid- angle view

 

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.

 

Antique glass jar with lid-filled with Tapeswaram kaaja

 

Antique glass jar with lid- top view

 

Antique glass jar with “SGF” letters within diamond mark and ” MADE IN JAPAN “ inscription

 

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”. 

 

Antique glass jar with lid in inclined position

 

Antique glass jar without lid

 

Lid design- showing collar groves lid handle design with knob on the top

 

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.

 

Glass jar with lid is used as Store counter canister to display biscuits in an Iranian restaurant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Made in Japan“ inscription on the lid

 

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.

 

The lid fits tightly into the mouth of the jar- air tight

 

Grooves on the collar of the lid

 

 

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.

 

 

To know about milk glass, the discovery of glass and many more aspects of the glass please click on this link http://ykantiques.com/2013/12/vintage-milk-glass-tumbler.html

 

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Antique Brass Coffee Filter

Antique brass Coffee filter
Antique brass Coffee filter

 

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.

 

Complete coffee filter assembly- Lower chamber, upper chamber, lid and plunger.(The stainless steel plunger is not a part of the antique brass filter but shown as a model)
Complete coffee filter assembly- Lower chamber, upper chamber, lid and plunger.(The stainless steel plunger is not a part of the antique brass filter but shown as a model)

 

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

Shrimathi Saraswathi garu and Sri Venkatappayya garu
Shrimathi Saraswathi garu and Sri Venkatappayya garu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Lower chamber, upper chamber with perforations and lid- top view
Lower chamber, upper chamber with perforations and lid- top view

 

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.

 

Coffee davara set- saucer and tumbler
Coffee davara set- saucer and tumbler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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”.

 

Roasted coffee powder
Roasted coffee powder

 

Roasted coffee beans
Roasted coffee beans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 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.

 

Processed green coffee beans
Processed green coffee beans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Coffee plant with coffee berries
Coffee plant with coffee berries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Coffee plantation- Coffee plants grow under the shade of trees
Coffee plantation- Coffee plants grow under the shade of trees

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coffee plant with flowers
Coffee plant with flowers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Filter assembly- Lower chamber,upper chamber with perforations and lid
Filter assembly- Lower chamber,upper chamber with perforations and lid
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Vintage Ugadi Vendi Ginni (Silver bowl)

Vintage Ugadi Vendi Ginni
Vintage Ugadi Vendi Ginni

 

 

 

 

 

 

This vintage silver bowl is used for keeping the Ugadi pachhadi the traditional chutney prepared every year for Ugadi festival. We used to call this vintage bowl as Vendi Mattu Ginni meaning the silver bowl with Mattu, a type of supporting ring under the bowl. This vintage silver Mattu Ginni is used only for two occasions. Firstly, to hold and serve Ugadi chutney every year and secondly to serve curds whenever we have a special guest or ceremonial meals on festive and religious occasions. The rest of the time this beautiful silver bowl is kept in the wooden cupboard in the bedroom. For each occasion, my mother used to take out the Mattu Ginni from the locked cupboard clean it with white lime powder domestically made with sea shells called gulla muggu. If the sea shell powder is exhausted, until the fresh lot of sea shells arrive, my mother used to make lime powder by crushing the lime stone called raati muggu. At any cost the silver bowl has to be cleaned with natural lime powder only. Once in a while, the vendimattuginni is given to our only trusted gold smith, Somasekharam, for polishing. After polishing he is to return the precious silver bow to my mother wrapped in a pink colour paper to make it look like an almost new one. 

Antique silver Vendi Mattu Ginni top view
Antique silver Vendi Mattu Ginni top view

 

The antique VendiMattuGinni has a great history. My paternal grandfather, Yenugu Krishna Murthy garu (garu is a respectful way of addressing elders in Andhra) has started the only school in our village Someswaram, in the East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh when he was around 18 years age. The school started with few students has grown up to a large educational institute and was later taken over by the government. He served the school as a head master till he retired in the year 1944. His retirement was an emotional and touchy occasion to my grandfather as well as to the entire village. On this occasion the students collectively presented this enchanting silver bowl to my grandfather. It is inscribed on the back of the antique bowl as “Sri Sishya Sangham Ye.Kru.gariki samarpinchinadi.12-11-44”. Meaning that the bowl was gifted to Shree Yenugu Krishnamurthy, by the Disciples Association on the day, dated November 12, 1944. He served as a teacher for 40 years and the entire village used to address him as “Mastarugaru” meaning “teacher sir” and not by his name. Our family has a great emotional and esteem value for this antique silver Mattuginni. That is why it is used only for the Ugadi pachhadi which is a new year for Telugu community and is celebrated with great religious fervour.

Back side of the silver bowl with inscription of gift details
Back side of the silver bowl with inscription of gift details

 

 

During my younger days Ugadi festival means, the inevitable oil bath early in the morning, prayer to our family deity and tasting the Ugadi chutney kept ready by my mother in the silver bowl. I used to run away from my mother to avoid the chutney since it used to be more bitter than sweetish. My mother would catch hold of me and put a spoonful of pachhadi in our palm and ask us to swallow. I used to close my eyes and manage to swallow the chutney with a puckered face. In order to keep me happy on a festive day my mother is to reward me with a piece of new jaggery and I used to tuck the piece in between the cheek and tongue and run away from the scene. Later I used to take a raw mango, cut into pieces, sprinkle red chilli powder and salt and eat it along with the saliva that already sprang out while we cut the raw mango. It is on later days that we understood the significance of eating the Ugadi chutney with its varied and mixed tastes. I subsequently started taking the once-in-a-year dish with enlightened attitude, reverence and started enjoying the mixed variety of tastes.

Shree Yenugu Krishna Murthy Garu,to whom the silver mattuginni is gifted.
My grandfather Shri. Yenugu Krishnamurthy to whom the mattuginni is gifted
Vintage silver Vendi mattuginni with Ugadi Pachhadi
Vintage silver Vendi mattuginni with Ugadi Pachhadi

 

When is Ugadi Celebrated?

The word Ugadi comes from the Sanskrit word”YUgadi” “Yuga” means age and refers to the age we are living in now called Kali Yuga. “Adi” means beginning. Hence YUgadi means beginning of the new Yuga or new age or era.The new Yuga is the current running Kali Yuga which started following the death of Lord Krishna who belongs to Dwapara Yuga. According to the scriptures the death of Lord Krishna took place on 17th February 3102 BC,Kali Yuga started from the mid night of 17/18 of 3120. Ugadi festival denotes the New Year day for the people of South of India between Vindhya Mountains and Kaveri River covering the states of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa who follow Lunar calendar.

YUgadi or Ugadi, Samvatsaradi are all meaning same thing denoting new year. Hindu Calendar which is Luni- solar in nature has a cycle of 60 years and each year has a unique name. Each year is subdivided into 12 months and each month has a name. On completion of 60 years the Hindu calendar starts again with the first name. The Hindu calendar has two version called Suryamana and chandramana. In Suryamana the calendar is worked out basing on the movement of the Sun and in Chandramana basing on the movement of moon. Generally Hindus from the north of India ( India that is north of Vindhya mountains ) follow Suryamana and the Hindus from South India (India that is South of Vindhya Mountains) follow Chandramana. Hindus follow Saka calendar known as Panchangam which begins with the month of Chaitra, and Ugadi is the first day of Chaitra masam which falls in the English calendar March-April. Hindus who follow Chandramana, observe the newyear on the first day of Chaitra Masa and those who follow Suryamana, the new year comes two weeks after first day of Chaitra Masa. This is why Hindu New Year is celebrated twice in the year with different names and at two different times of the year.

It is called Ugadi in Telugu and Kannada, the people of Maharashtra call this festival Gudi Padwa. This Hindu New Year is celebrated by Marwaris of Rajasthan as Thapna, Sindhis as Cheti Chand, Manipuris as Sajibunongmapanba. The people of Tamil Nadu celebrate the New Year festival as Puthandu, Punjabis as Baisakhi, and people of Kullu Valley of Himachal Pradesh as Seri Saja and West Bengalis as Pohela Boishakh.

Ugadi is also celebrated by the Hindus of the countries of Mauritius, Bali and Indonesia as New Year by name Nyepi. The Hindu calendar has spread to the other countries due to common rule under Satavahana Dynasty.

The Hindu Shaka almanac starts with the date on which the great Shalivahana Empire was started and hence is called Salivahana Shaka. The king Satavahana also identified as Shalivahana and Gautamiputra Satakarni is known to have started the Shalivahana Era which corresponds to 78 AD of Christian Era.

Various ingredients of the Ugadi pachhadi
Various ingredients of the Ugadi pachhadi

 

 

 

Significance of Ugadi day

According to Hindus, Lord Brahma started creation on the day of Ugadiie. Chaitra Suddha Padhyami. The beginning of vasantha rutu, the spring season also coincides with Ugadi when the nature is in full bloom and the new life takes place justifying the beginning of new year with new hope and signifying prosperity and growth.

The pandits prepare new panchangam, the yearly calendar and read it for the people of the village for them to have a glimpse of the life to come in the new year. This ceremony called Panchanga Sravanam is done in the temple or under the tree at the centre of the village. The major predictions will be the rains for the year in which the villagers were very much interested in for the crops for the year on which their prosperity is depended. Also the major predictions are the solar and Lunar eclipses known as Grahanam.

On the day of Ugadi the people clean in front of the houses by splashing cow dung water and decorate with colourful rangoli known as muggulu made with lime powder or chalk powder or with rice powder. The main doorway called Simha dwaram is decorated with mango leaves and flowers. Then they take traditional bath called Abhyangana Snanam where in Til oil (sesame seed oil) is applied to the body and head and washed off with a paste made out of herbal powder called Nalugupindi. The oil from the head is washed off with soap-nut solution (herbal shampoo). Then they pray to their family deity and wear new cloths.After this purification they take Ugaadi Pachhadi, the special chutney prepared for this day with ingredients that produce 6 different tastes.

 

Vintage silver bowl with Ugadi Pachhadi showing neem flowers and other ingredients.
Vintage silver bowl with Ugadi Pachhadi showing neem flowers and other ingredients.

 

The significance of Ugadi Pachhadi

 

Ugadi pachhadi denotes a great philosophy of life, in life we experience various emotions like happiness, sadness, anger, bitterness and we should take all experiences, pleasant or unpleasant, good or bad in a balanced way. Similarly Ugadi chutney consists of 6 varieties of ingredients that have six distinct tastes called Shadruchulu-some pleasant and some unpleasant. Tasting of Ugadi chutney on new year’s day remind us that life is a mixture of different experiences and we should accept and take them in a positive attitude. The Ugadi Chutney consists of the following special ingredients that produce the unique characteristic tastes-

 

Fresh Neem tree (margosa) flowers : for bitterness

New jaggery : for sweetness

Green chillies or black pepper :for spicy and hot taste

Salt : for salty taste

New tamarind juice: for sour taste

New crop of unripe mango: for the tangy taste.

 

Each taste is associated with different emotions in our behaviour.

Bitterness is associated with Sadness

Sweetness is associated with Happiness

Spicy hot taste  is associated with Anger 

Salty taste  is associated with Fear 

Sour taste  is associated with Disgust

Tangy taste  is associated with Surprise

 

The Ugadi chutney made with different tastes should be recognised in the spirit of equanimity to lead a balanced and composed life. It denotes the fact that life is a mixture of different emotions and experiences and all should be taken in the same spirit. The Udadi pachhadi is a symbolic taste of Different flavours of life that need to be harmonized and balanced to lead a healthy and happy life.

 

The ingredients- Neem flowers, raw mango, tamarind, green chillies, jaggery, sugarcane, ripe banana and others
The ingredients- Neem flowers, raw mango, tamarind, green chillies, jaggery, sugarcane, ripe banana and others

 

How to prepare Delicious Ugadi Pachhadi

The ingredients

1 table spoon-Neem tree flowers (Vepapuvvulu, Margosa flowers)

3 table spoons –fresh mango cut into small pieces with skin.

3 table spoons –grated freshly made  jaggery

1 table spoon- finely chopped coconut pieces.

3 table spoons-fresh tamarind paste

6 inches long sugar cane peeled and finely cut pieces.

1  ripe banana paste

1 inch long green chilly finely chopped or few black peppers

Powdered salt to taste.

Preparation.

Keep all the ingredients in a porcelain or stainless steel bowl and mix all of them with the hand to form a gravy or sauce like consistency. If you like the chutney to be liquid you can add little bit of water till the required consistency is achieved. The traditional way of tasting this pachhadi is by eating with the hand. Take one table spoon full of pachhadi into the cup of your palm and put into the mouth just like you take the prasadam from a temple priest.The right way to taste the pachhadi is to keep it in the mouth for some time so that the tastes of various ingredients are experienced in the mouth and allow the saliva flow into the mouth. Bite and chew the cut pieces of mango, sugarcane, coconut, neem flowers and swallow the mixture slowly. The ceremonial way of tasting the Ugadi pachhadi is one way of having a family get together on the festive occasion and share the experiences of each on the taste of the chutney. The Ugadi Pachhadi has a lot of medicinal properties with herbs like neem and other ingredients like raw mango, new jaggery and tamarind containing properties that clean our system and serve as prophylactics (prevention of disease).May be the tradition of eating Ugadi pachhadi in the beginning of the year has inherent system of preventive medication to face the changing seasons

 

 

 

 

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Antique Brass And Bronze Curry Cooking Pots

Antique Brass and Bronze curry pots in a group
Antique Brass and Bronze curry pots in a group

 

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.

 

Antique Brass and Bronze curry pots in a row
Antique Brass and Bronze curry pots in a row

 

Andhra Antique Brass curry pots called KooraGinni
Andhra Antique Brass curry pots called KooraGinni

 

Tamil Nadu Antique bronze curry pots called vengalapannai
Tamil Nadu Antique bronze curry pots called vengalapannai

 

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.

 

Andhra antique Brass curry pot size. Height 5.5 inches ,width at the moth 7.5 inches -front view
Andhra antique Brass curry pot size. Height 5.5 inches ,width at the moth 7.5 inches -front view

 

 

Andhra antique Brass curry pot size.Height 5.5 inches ,width at the moth 7.5 inches -top view
Andhra antique Brass curry pot size.Height 5.5 inches ,width at the moth 7.5 inches -top view

 

Andhra antique Brass curry pot size.Height 4.3 inches ,width at the moth 6.3 inches-front view
Andhra antique Brass curry pot size.Height 4.3 inches ,width at the moth 6.3 inches-front view

 

Andhra antique Brass curry pot size.Height 4.3 inches ,width at the moth 6.3 inches -top view
Andhra antique Brass curry pot size.Height 4.3 inches ,width at the moth 6.3 inches  -top view

 

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.

 

Tamil Nadu Antique bronze curry pots size Height 4.5 inches, width at the mouth 7.0 inches -front view
Tamil Nadu Antique bronze curry pots size Height 4.5 inches, width at the mouth 7.0 inches -front view

 

Tamil Nadu Antique bronze curry pots size Height 4.5 inches ,width at the mouth 7.0 inches -top view
Tamil Nadu Antique bronze curry pots size Height 4.5 inches ,width at the mouth 7.0 inches -top view

 

Tamil Nadu Antique bronze curry pots size Height 4.3 inches ,width at the mouth 6.75 inches -front view
Tamil Nadu Antique bronze curry pots size Height 4.3 inches ,width at the mouth 6.75 inches -front view

 

Tamil Nadu Antique bronze curry pots size Height 4.3 inches ,width at the mouth 6.75 inches -top view
Tamil Nadu Antique bronze curry pots size Height 4.3 inches ,width at the mouth 6.75 inches -top view

 

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.

Ingredients required

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.

Preparation

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.

Taste superb with hot rice and ghee or roti.

Ingredients for Vankaya Karampettina Koora
Ingredients for Vankaya Karampettina Koora

 

Brinjals for Vankaya Karampettina Koora
Brinjals for Vankaya Karampettina Koora

 

Fried Ingredients for Vankaya Karampettina Koora
Fried Ingredients for Vankaya Karampettina Koora

 

Powdered Fried Ingredients for VankayaKarampettina Koora
Powdered Fried Ingredients for VankayaKarampettina Koora

 

Slicing the brinjal using a table cutter
Slicing the brinjal using a table cutter

 

Stuffing the brinjal with spice powder
Stuffing the brinjal with spice powder

 

Stuffed brinjal ready to be cooked
Stuffed brinjal ready to be cooked

 

Place the stuffed brinjal in the hot oil
Place the stuffed brinjal in the hot oil

 

Brinjals being cooked in the kooraginni
Brinjals being cooked in the kooraginni

 

Tilt the Brinjals by jerking the pot using a dry cloth
Tilt the Brinjals by jerking the pot using a dry cloth

 

Cooked Brinjals ready for serving
Cooked Brinjals ready for serving

 

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Vintage Brass 5-Tier Tiffin Box Carrier

Vintage Brass 5-Tier Tiffin box carrier
Vintage Brass 5-Tier Tiffin box carrier

 

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.

Complete assembly of Tiffin carrier showing 5 dabbas, frame, spoon and handle
Complete assembly of Tiffin carrier showing 5 dabbas, frame, spoon and handle

 

Tiffin carrier shown in dismantled condition-five dabbas, top lid, frame and spoon
Tiffin carrier shown in dismantled condition-five dabbas, top lid, frame and spoon

 

Brass tiffin box showing the inside tin coating
Brass tiffin box showing the inside tin coating

 

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.

 

“Patent“ mark and “4 ½ “ capacity mark shown on the top lid of the tiffin carrier
“Patent“ mark and “4 ½ “ capacity mark shown on the top lid of the tiffin carrier

 

The “U” shaped frame fixed to the bottom box and two holes shown at the bend of the “U”
The “U” shaped frame fixed to the bottom box and two holes shown at the bend of the “U”

 

Top lid showing knob and the hole
Top lid showing knob and the hole

 

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.

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Antique Brass Milk Pot

 

Antique brass milk pot

When my mother came to my father’s house for the first time in the year 1936 after her marriage, her father gifted her few items for her comfort at the new home including a cow and a brass milk pot known as paala tappela into which the milk is squeezed from the cow.  This brass milk pot is 77 years old.

My mother along with their parents came to her husband’s house for the first time in a decked up double bullock cart with all her belongings and the cow following the bullock cart. The care taker of the cow also accompanied the caravan.The list of other gift items are saris,cloths,gold and silver ornaments,brass and copper cooking and otherutensils, sweets,snacks, fruits, flowers and the most important mandatory items – pasupu, kumkuma and chanividi(a kind of sweet made with rice flour and sugar). My mother belongs to a village called Korumilli located on the banks of river Godavari, in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. Her father’s name is Salapaka Lingamurthy. My Father belongs to village Someswaram named after the presiding deity of the village Someswara Swami with a magnificent temple.

The care taker of the cow, whom we call paaleru, that came from Korumilli village used to take care of the cow and milk the cow into the brass milking pot. After few days he handed over the duties of the cow to a care taker appointed by my father and left our house. Then the new paaleru took care of the cow including milking daily in the morning, feeding the cow regularly and cleaning the cow.His responsibilities include taking care of the paala tappela. The paala tappela is meant to be used only for milking the cow and after that the milk is transferred to another brass vessel for boiling the milk and further usage. Once the milk is transferred, the milking pot is cleaned thoroughly by rubbing with tamarind juice first followed by fine soil with coconut fibre. Then the paala tappela is dried and stored in its usual storage area and used to be removed only the next day morning for milking the cow. The milking is done in the evening also.

Antique brass milk pot-Front view

 

Antique brass milk pot- Angle view

 

Antique brass milk pot- another angle view

 

Antique brass milk pot- top view

 

Antique brass milk pot- inclined position front and bottom view

 

The height of the antique milk pot is 7 inches, the diameter at the belly is 7.5 inches and the diameter at the mouth opening is 5 inches.

For any reason if the paaleru was absent, my mother used to milk the cow.There are two reasons for my mother to take charge of the milking, firstly, the cow is comfortable with my mother since she knows her from a long time and allow her to squeeze the milk. Secondly, nobody in the house has the required skills to handle a cow, and even if they venture for milking the cow, the cow is reluctant to allow them to touch her. After some time the cow became pregnant and after due course of time gave birth to a calf. Now the cow’s milk has to be shared between us and the calf. First in the morning the calf is to be let loose and the calf will run to the mother and have the first course of her milk. After few minutes the calf would be pulled out from the udder of the cow and our milk man would squeeze the milk but would take care that enough milk is left un-squeezed so that the calf has her full quota of the milk.

Antique brass milk pot-inclined position side view

 

Antique brass milk pot-inclined position bottom view

 

Antique brass milk pot-upside down position view

 

Picture showing milking the cow into a pot

The milk that the cow gives till 7 days of her delivery of the calf is entirely different .They are thick and creamy. We use to call them Junnu Paalu. My mother used to cook a sweet from the junnupaalu called Junnu .It is cooked with Junnupaalu, jaggery and black pepper. Its taste is divine.

Generally cows produce milk when they deliver the calf and will continue to give milk till they are dried-off. The cow normally is in DRY condition after 305 days of continuous lactation. This dry season lasts till the cow is with the next calf. Cow has a gestation period of 280 days almost similar to a human gestation time.During the dry season  it will not give milk.Once our cow declared that it will not give milk.So we were without milk.This information has gone to my mother’s father and he has sent another milking cow and the dried up cow was sent back to Korumilli.This rotation of cows kept us with continuous milk supply.My mother’s father used to have lot of cows and in the group there will always be few milk giving cows or lactation cows .My maternal grandfather has no problem in sending a milk yielding cow but I came to know later that he used to have problem with the cows that returned from our house.

My grandfather was a landlord and he also had farms. He also used to have a mini dairy. His paaleru used to take all the cows to the banks river Godavari for grazing the pastures. Godavari river flows in such a way that it forms mini islands in between its streams.There will be lot of green grass on these islands and the cattle have to cross the rivulets to reach the island.The rest of the cattle used to cross the waters easily but the cows returned from our house would be scared to cross the water.The reason being the cows in our house are kept in the house only and they never gone out into the fields and rivers. They were fed with cut grass and they forgot how to graze in the open meadows.

This rotation of cows between the two houses of my father and grandfather stopped somewhere for some unknown reason and our family was buying milk from milk vendors. With the result our beautiful brass paala tappela was not used and given permanent rest. Finally it joined my antique collection and occupies a regal place in our collection as well as in our hearts. Now both my mother and my maternal grandfather passed away long back, but their images and memories flood my thoughts whenever I see this Paala tappela that gave a glorious service to our family.

Milking a cow is an art .First you should establish a friendly rapport with the cow. If you approach her with negative vibes it will sense and will not cooperate with you. If you have a friendly approach she will cooperate and allow you to milk her. You have to sit in a correct posture near the cow with a convenient proximity to the udder and the teats. Youhave to sit on your feet with the knees folded. The paala tappela is kept in between the folded knees and milking is done with both the hands. The paala tappela should be positioned directly under the udder of the cow and the teats are to be squeezed so that the milk directly falls into the paala tappela. This is the traditional and professional way of milking the cow. Now a days people sit on a stool and keep the Paala tappela on the ground under the cows podugu(udder)and milk the cow. However the cow will enjoy giving the milk to a seasoned milk man by his rhythmic squeezing movements. Whereas, it will not enjoy the clumsy movements of a nervous new comer.

The job of paaleru is also to take care of the daily discharge of the cow dung.He used to make pidakalu out of the cow dung. Pidakalu are the dung made to the shape of a round disk and dried in the sun. These cow dung pidakalu are used as a fuel to boil water or milk. For Sankranthi festival as children we used to make small pidakalu called bogi pidakalu in the shape of wadas and we used to make a garland of the Bhogi pidakalu and put them in the Bhogimanta, the ceremonial fire lit in the early morning of Bhogi pandaga that falls one day before the Sankranthi. After dropping the bhogi pidakalu garland in the fire me, my sisters along with children used to sit around the fire and warm ourselves against the January winter cold .The Sankranthi festival generally falls on 13th,14th and 15th  of January.