Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Mortar and Pestle

Mood: Besok Raya! Playing: Dendang Perantau by P. Ramlee

I think I mentioned before that I do not own a blender, and that I do all my grounding and grinding and pulping of spices in my granite mortar and pestle.
Well I've been doing alot of that during Ramadhan. Grounding chillies for sambal, grounding shallots and garlic for fish head curries, grounding fried coconut and fish for kerabu, grounding dried shrimp and cumin for kuih gunting... Everyday, without fail, you'd hear the 'tok tok tok' sound of rock on rock, my pestle hitting my mortar.
I think I have developed muscles on my right arm. I hope it's not obvious.. it would be weird to have one big arm and one small arm.

As I have also mentioned, I will be making my mother-in-law's Rendang Ayam Cikgu Munah this Eid. Since I will be bringing it to the Gathering of Melayus, it means I will be making A LOT. And it requires a lot of grounded shallots and garlic and chillies.
I mentioned my dread of having to pound that to Taufik, and my intention of maybe bringing it to a friend's house to use her blender. I think Taufik got a bit embarassed at the prospect of people finding out that he can't afford (or won't afford) a blender, so he said, "Let's just go buy a blender".

Last night we went grocery shopping (before the last minute rush of shopping by the locals) and I asked him again, "Are we getting a blender?".
To my suprise he said, "We have a mortar a pestle, we don't need a blender".
I was aghast. I went "Whaaaa????? But you said..."
"If we get a blender, what would we do with the mortar and pestle?" he replied.
We got to the supermarket and he did stop by the electrical appliances aisle and looked at a few blenders, but none satisfied his taste (or his wallet's taste, i think).
"Kita tumbuk je lah ya?" he said ("Let's just pound it ourselves, okay?")
"YOU tumbuk", I said as I walked away in a huff. ("YOU pound")
nak beli blender pun sikit punya susah! Senang lah dia cakap, kita yang nak kena tumbuk berpuluh bijik bawang nanti.. dia makan je.. Elisa bawak je lah bawang tu pegi rumah Kak Zaharah, biar semua melayu tahu that you're too kedekut to buy me a blender! Gaji ribu-ribu, blender 60 ringgit pun takleh beli..
(was what I was muttering all the way to the cashier, which I am too lazy to translate to english)

In the kitchen later that night while Taufik and the kids were having their evening meal of leftover pizza, spaghetti bolognaise, cereal and ice cream, I was sitting on the tiled floor pounding on boiled fish flesh to make sambal ikan.
The kids kept coming to sit down with me and asking "Can I help?" , "Boleh anis tumbuk?","Bonda, Ilham nak tolong bonda boleh?","Ihsan pun lah...Ihsan pun nak tumbuk jugak".
I gave each of them a chance to help me pound the ingredients. They sure had a lot of questions.
"What is this thing made of?" "Granite"
"Wow, how did they shape it like this?" "They probably have a machine to chip away at the stone"
"Why is it so heavy?" "So that it can pound at the stuff. If not you'd have to do most of the pounding"
"Beyat lah bonda.." "Kalau berat Anis tak payah buat lah.. biar bonda yang buat"

"Semua orang nak tolong Bonda, kan? Kecuali orang yang tak nak beli blender tu.." ("Everyone wants to help me, except the one who didnt want to buy the blender.."), I said, giving Taufik a sideways glance.
"Ilham, Ilham tahu tak, masa ayah kecik2 kan, ayah kena giling cili tau. Tumbuk dengan lesung tu.. takde hal.." Taufik retorted. ("Ilham, do you know, when I was little, I had to grind chillies using the flat grinder. Using the mortar and pestle is easy compared to that")
I had to turn around and look at his face to see his expression.
He had the tiniest smile at the corner of his lips.
"You mean when you were a teenager?" Ilham probed.
"No, when I was about your age. And my grandmother's flat grinder was huge!" Taufik told.
I imagined him sitting on the wooden floor in his grandmother's house. His gangly feet around the huge granite flat grinder. His skinny fingers gripping the cylindrical grinder and pushing and pulling and rolling the thing to grind the chillies. He probably had asked his grandmother "Tok, dah?" (Grandma, is this ground fine enough?) and when his grandmother said "Belum, sikit lagi" (Not yet, a little bit more), he would probably go on grinding till his grandmother says okay.
With 9 kids to feed (not including husbands and grandkids), there had got to be alot of chillies to grind.

Taufik's story made me laugh.
"So because you had to grind chillies when you were a kid, I now have to suffer and pound my own chillies??" I asked jokingly.
"Pounding is nothing. That doesnt look too bad" he said.
"This is just fish. Fish is nothing. Tomorrow I'm gonna make you pound the shallots and garlic and chillies." I replied.
He just laughed and the kids laughed listening to us laugh.

"Bonda, dah?" Ilham asked, showing me the pounded fish.
I took a spoon and tossed them around to see how fine they were and decided that they were plenty fine.
"Okay, I think we're done" I said as I gave Ilham the spoon so that he can scoop the fish out and put it inside a tupperware.
The kids helped me clean up afterwards, before we retreated to bed.

I thought about Taufik's story about grinding chillies with his grandmother, and I wonder if Ilham will tell his kids about how he pounded fish for his mother.
I thought about how I had never heard stories of childhood memories about using the blender.

I have decided, I still love my mortar and pestle.. :)

Less you think that Taufik is a financial control freak, let me clarify that even when I was earning a portion of our household income, we conferred before we buy anything.
Just like he wont go out and buy an optical mouse for the home computer without getting my okay, I would not go out and buy a blender without getting his okay. It's just our way of showing our respect for each other's opinions (and tastes).
It does end us up with not that many material things, but it sure saves us a lot of resentment.

Blog Comments
Posted by: elisataufik
Date: 11/01/05 at 8:25 AM (2M1w ago)
I forgot to say:
I want wish everyone Eid Mubarak and happy holidays.
Please do forgive me if I have slighted you in any way, either from my postings or from comments left on your blogs (or other people's blogs).
Please know that I seldom take anything to heart, so if you have ever struck a raw nerve with me from your posts or your comments, do be assured that all is forgiven.

kosong-kosong ya!!

"we were but stones, ... your light made us stars"

Posted by: ubisetela (View Website)
Date: 11/01/05 at 9:29 AM (2M1w ago)
Selamat Hari Raya Aidifitri.. selamat menumbuk dengan jayanya.. tukar2 tgn la so the muscle will be even forr both :)
My blender tak de sapa guna.. nak pinjam? hhehehe :)

Posted by: Hip Mum
Date: 11/01/05 at 1:34 PM (2M1w ago)
Haha that's so cute K.elisa... at least now I know you're not a saint... ada rasa geram gak kat Abg Taufik!! Else, I'd thot something is def wrong with ME! hehe.. Neeway, hubby & I are like you guys too... We'd first get each other's opinion before buying something - latest, he called me over & over again from Low Yat Plaza, asking if it's ok for him to get us a new PC (using HIS bonus $$). I was in a meeting, terasa geram gak, but then towards the later part of the day, I was smiling to myself.

I taught him well.


Posted by:famygirl
Date: 11/01/05 at 11:06 PM (2M1w ago)
Selamat Hari Raya to you and family... *huggles*

Posted by:+PrimaryBasic
Date: 11/02/05 at 10:27 AM (2M1w ago)
selamat hari raya to you and family too kak elisa. mintak maaf for everything. and thank you for everything.

btw, you could get the blender to blend fruit juices, and potatoes (buat mee kuah and the likes).


That which is striking and beautiful is not always good, but that which is good is always beautiful ~Ninon de L'Enclos

Posted by: ida
Date: 11/05/05 at 6:04 AM (2M1w ago)
Selamat Raya! Believe it or not, food cooked with ingredients pounded with lesung batu (heheh) lagi best drp food from the blender. Maybe because if we blend, we tend to use more liquid. If I'm rajin, I would use lesung batu. Kalau tak, hmm... blend le.... Wish I was there to see you pound those shallots. Ha!

Posted by:jalommah
Date: 11/07/05 at 9:07 AM (2M1w ago)
Selamat hari raya... kesian U, tapi betul kata Ida tu kalau pakai ingredients yang pounded the food taste better ( better be... penat woooo). Kat rumah my MIL pun dia prefer pakai lesung batu dari blender, tapi tengok kuantiti yang nak di masak jugaklah.

Me and hubby pun macam U jugak, tapi hari tu dia sibuk nak beli TV 43", I cakap tak yah yang dua bijik kat rumah tu pun dia tak de masa nak tengok ( Asyik mengadap PC). Tak paham betul.

Posted by: ninuk (View Website)
Date: 11/07/05 at 10:02 AM (2M1w ago)
i've learned my lesson about "kegatalan membeli" ni. see my husband seldom buy things, so when he mention of wanting to buy s/thing it must be s/thing that he really want. back in 2002 he wanted to buy UNSER, cewaaahhh punye le I against it, kereto beso susah nak parking, bayar installment mahal bla bla bla. Tup tup tup 2003 dia beli Oddesey.
Pelajarannya - SEKALI-SEKALA layan le kegatalan membeli, nanti terbeli yang 2 3 kali lebih mahal - tak tersenggih di buatnya.

Posted by: uneeq (View Website)
Date: 11/08/05 at 4:00 PM (2M6d ago)
(boleh tak i baru realise that i commented on the wrong entry? anyways..)

The Comment : My mom INSISTS on me using the mortar and pestle everytime I cook because she claims that it tastes better, the ingredients would not get too mushy blablabla. Don't tell my mom I'm telling u this, but actually it really makes no difference, to my taste. But I still do it only to workout my arms. Heh.

Selamat Hari Raya, Kak Els and family.

Posted by:elisataufik
Date: 11/11/05 at 12:38 PM (2M3d ago)
cik adikkkk
i noticed it, but i didnt care coz i was just glad that you finally re-appeared!
Where have you been lah??
macam nak nangis je bila pegi on the couch and found it was no longer there. Nyesal gila sebab dah lama tak visit.
Your new site ni slow sikit lah.. kena rasuk with the hantu at the 'front door' tu kot?

"we were but stones, ... your light made us stars"

Posted by: fiammepersempre
Date: 11/09/05 at 6:58 AM (2M5d ago)
Aw :-)

-------------------- -

For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.

- Vincent van Gogh -

Posted by: yellowcab
Date: 11/09/05 at 7:41 AM (2M5d ago)
heheh kisah blender dan batu lesung di ambang raya... ehhehe
leh buat movie tuh.. :D

anyway..selamat beraya di perantauan.. maaf salah silap... tak sedey ke dgr lagu raya ek?


Posted by: sunflora (View Website)
Date: 11/09/05 at 8:34 AM (2M5d ago)
So sweet :) So sure laku your rendang tu? Do you find that it tastes different because its cooked on an electric cooker compared to cooking it on the gas cooker?

Posted by:bertique
Date: 11/09/05 at 9:21 AM (2M5d ago)
actually, i like using mortar and pestle compared with using blender.
lebih sedap, dan best rasanya.
ntah, seronok sgt biler i guna menda alah tuh .. jimat letrik ..

walaupun i ada blender, i jarang guna .. begitu juga dgn lesung batu tuh ..
biasa nyer chef kan ada helper, so i suh la helper i yg tumbuk or giling or blender barang2 masakan i :D

hahaha untungnya jadi chef.

selamat lebaran.

Posted by:zan
Date: 11/10/05 at 6:24 AM (2M4d ago)
kalau i guna lesung batu, habislah boleh bergaduh dgn jiran (org bawah esp) hehehe...

"Given enough coffee, I could rule the world" - The Unknown

Posted by:nekbat
Date: 11/10/05 at 1:32 PM (2M4d ago)
I still guna that dialogue every time my mom suruh tumbuk-menumbuk. "Ma, dah?" Tapi kenapa la the answer is always "Sikik lagi". Huwaa..

Posted by: lion3ss (View Website)
Date: 11/11/05 at 1:56 AM (2M4d ago)
Buster laughed at me recently whe I pounded black pepper. Dia kata - belilah grounded black pepper terus.

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