THE GRINDING STONE – A NECESSARY APPENDAGE IN EVERY HOME IN KOLAR GOLD FIELDS IN THE EARLIER DAYS
The grinding stone was an indispensable appendage in every home in the days before the “Electric Mixer Grinder” as invented. It was used on a regular basis to grind the masalas or curry stuff required for the daily cooking as well as for pastes and batter for the Idlis and Dosas too!
There were three different types of grind stones in our mining house in KGF when we were growing up. There were many other types of grinding stones as well. Let me tell you about three of them.
1. The Flat Grinding Stone was used to grind the spices and curry stuff or wet masalas for the everyday curries and fries. This grinding stone was known as “Ammi Kal” in Tamil and consisted of a flat granite stone about two feet in length and one foot breadth. The red chillies, turmeric, cumin seeds, coriander seeds or other dry ingredients were placed on this stone and another stone about 10 inches in length that was shaped like a roller or cylinder was used to grind the masalas in an ‘up and down’ direction. The top of the grinding stone had to be rough and coarse so that the masalas could be ground easily to a smooth texture. However, due to continuous grinding, the grinding stone would soon become smooth, and it would take longer to grind the ingredients to the required consistency. This was when the ‘Grinding Stone Tapper’ was called in to tap the grinding stone to make it rough again.
The Grinding Stone Tapper would use a small chisel and hammer to first make small pits in a star design in the center of the grinding stone and then continue tapping the stone with his chisel and hammer around this design till the whole surface of the grinding stone was covered with small pits very close together. He repeated the same procedure with the top stone as well.
The Grinding Stone Man had his own peculiar way of calling out ‘Ammi Kalu. Ammi Kalu’ to let people know that he was coming around. He knew that he would get a job of tapping the grinding stone at least twice a month in every house. He was a familiar face in the mining area and was much wanted ‘Service Provider’ in those days.
2. The second type of grinding stone or the ‘Wet Grinder’ was used to grind batter for Idlis, Dosas, or rice pancakes. This type of grinding stone was known as ‘Rubbu Kal’ in Tamil which meant ‘to rotate’. It was shaped like a small barrel with a hole in the centre. It was carved or made from a single piece of granite. The soaked rice and dhal with a little water, was put into this hole and was ground to a smooth batter with another cylindrical shaped stone in a rotary movement. When these grinding stones became smooth, the Ammi Kallu man would tap this stone as well to make it coarse again..
Using this type of grinding stone was actually a sort of exercise and it ensured a daily work out for the person doing the grinding as the hands and upper body of were fully exercised! This old concept of the ‘Rubbu Kal’ is used in the modern day electric grinders.
3. The third type of grinding stone was the pestle and mortar of undressed granite which was used for pounding small quantities of dry spices. Every house also had one of these. The action of pounding the spices and making them into a smooth powder was quite therapeutic and exciting at the same time.
Man has come a long way from the Stone Age. But its so amazing to think that we have come to adapt and innovate the most primitive of man’s tools for survival and use them to make our lives easier today amongst modern inventions and technology.