Rediscover The Lost Treasure Of The Sil-Batta And Make Some Traditional Things

Rediscover The Lost Treasure Of The Sil-Batta And Make Some Traditional Things

Before technology gave us an important helping hand to the kitchen - an electronic appliance the mixture grinder if anyone had to grind spices or make pastes and chutneys, it used to be tedious, tiring and a time-consuming process, unlike today. Then it was possible only with the help of a flat stone and, another smaller stone.

These two stones together are better known as Sil Batta in the north, Ammi in the south and Sila Puaa in the east or just stone grinder. Sil Batta or stone grinder was an integral part of every household in the classic era. In those days before the actual cooking began the wet ingredients and sometimes the dry ingredients were freshly ground every day on it.

The smaller stone(Batta) is moved on the, bigger stone(Sil) back and forth to grind the ingredients to the desired consistency. Lentils and rice were ground to make a batter for making Dahi vadas, dosas. A variety of chutneys were also made almost every day.

The reason for this is that the fresh ground spices have a distinct aroma and fragrance which make the food, even more, tastier and healthier. The vigorous movement of stones produces heat which amalgamates with the natural oil of the spices and other ingredients bringing out all the flavors that make the food tasty. The shape differs in every state .

Though the process used to be tiring, as much strength was required to lift the stones as well move them while grinding, the final product was much waited for and appreciated. I used to feel amazed, seeing how my mother and grandmother in no time could grind the things without even complaining about how much strength they had to put in.

They used to laugh it out by simply saying that ‘it was their way of exercising’. I did not realize that then but, now I understand why the women were much healthier and active in those days.

I remember while they used the Sil batta, they followed a particular order of grinding, the wet ingredients first and then the dry ingredients.Every ingredient had its own distinctive aroma. That definitely has made my sense of smell stronger and, now I can easily recognize the ingredients of a dish.

The convenience of using the mixer grinder gradually made its way into all the kitchens and sadly reduced the importance of Sil batta making it a thing of the past and is now relatable only to the rustic culture. Still many say that things ground in the mixer grinder do not make the food taste that good and that it is less aromatic.

But many households and professional chefs still use Sil batta in making particular recipes to revive and replicate the same taste and aroma which only the older ladies who used Sil Batta could do. They also encourage the others to start using them again and reap its benefits.

A Classic Masala base for any gravy

Ingredients:

• 1 onion roughly Chopped

• 3-4 garlic cloves

• 1-inch ginger

• 1 tsp coriander seeds

• 1 whole red chili

• a small piece of raw turmeric or 1/2 tsp turmeric powder

• 1/2 tsp jeera (cumin seeds)

• 5 to 6 black pepper

• 1 black cardamom

• 1 green cardamom

• 1-inch cinnamon stick

Method:

1) First grind the onion, garlic and ginger.

2) After this the coriander seeds, chili and the turmeric.

3) You may add little water (1/2 spoon) at a time to, move the smaller grinding stone.

4) Then grind the other ingredients.

4) Keep grinding this moving the smaller stone back and forth till you get a fine paste.

Amla Chutney

Serves: 3 to 4

Ingredients

• 2 Amla

• 1/2 cup coriander leaves

• 1 green chilly

• 2 cloves garlic

• salt to taste

• 1/4 tsp spoon cumin seeds(optional)

Method

1)Wash and cut the amla, coriander leaves and chilly

2)Grind the ingredients in this order Coriander leaves - garlic - amla - chilly - jeera and salt.

3) Grind the chutney to a coarse consistency.

4)Serve it with Khichdi, Paratha or Roti.

Tips:

1)whenever you purchase a new Sil Batta, first do the curing process(cleaning) , any of the below methods can be followed:

1)Grind a fist of sand or salt 2 to 3 times and wash it off.

or

2) Soak some rice and grind it on the grinding stone and wash it off.

or

3) Grind the peels of cucumber, potatoes or any other vegetable for 2 - 3 days before using the sil batta.

4) You must get the grooves of Sil Batta sharpened and also repeat the curing process periodically to use it effectively.

All the above methods will help clean the Sil batta and also extends its life.

Note: In case you don't have a Sil Batta at home then you can use a mortar and pestle to make the chutney and the masala base can be made in the mixture grinder.

--Sapna Chaudhary/Lucknow

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