The Rustic Kitchen Tool That Connects Me to My Mother’s Cooking

An object is often worth more than its material form. It can bring with it cultural echoes, family history, and personal memory. In The Things We Treasure, writers tell us about their most priceless possessions—and the irreplaceable stories behind them…

An object is often worth more than its material form. It can bring with it cultural echoes, family history, and personal memory. In The Things We Treasure, writers tell us about their most priceless possessions—and the irreplaceable stories behind them.


My mother’s mortar and pestle is a black granite beauty, its nooks and crannies smoothed out from years of service. She bought it 53 years ago, as a newlywed setting up her first kitchen in Mumbai, and has used it every day since—sometimes, twice a day. I tease her, saying she is one in a country of a billion who has stayed faithful to it; everyone else we know uses a three-jar Vitamix-esque grinder to churn out the pulps, pastes, and powders so central to Indian cooking.

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Why Food Tastes Better When You Eat With Your Hands

My father-in-law is an engineer. He worked his entire professional life for an electric utility company that oversaw the construction and expansion of power lines throughout the Western Indian state of Maharashtra. In 1984 he was sent to Sweden for an …

My father-in-law is an engineer. He worked his entire professional life for an electric utility company that oversaw the construction and expansion of power lines throughout the Western Indian state of Maharashtra. In 1984 he was sent to Sweden for an exchange of technical know-how. One night, at a banquet in his honor, his Swedish hosts served Indian food (as he was a lifelong lacto-vegetarian). It was a formal affair. A knife, fork, and a spoon were elegantly placed next to each plate. There was a toast, and then everyone began to eat.

Now, my father-in-law does not remember what was served. But what he does remember is that, after a few minutes, he looked around, put his cutlery down, and raised his feet to sit cross-legged in his chair. Then, he did something else, much to his hosts’ astonishment: He started eating with his hands.

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A Quick Vinaigrette Hack for Bigger, Bolder Salads

Heat your oil of choice, sprinkle in some black mustard and cumin seeds, and watch as they temper and splutter and pop. Chrrr … splat … POP.

That oil has now imbibed the savory, nutty flavors of the spices and is ready to cast its spell on the nex…

Heat your oil of choice, sprinkle in some black mustard and cumin seeds, and watch as they temper and splutter and pop. Chrrr ... splat ... POP.

That oil has now imbibed the savory, nutty flavors of the spices and is ready to cast its spell on the next set of ingredients: lentils, onions, and garlic. Or tomatoes and whatever vegetables you have in your pantry. Or if you're Priya Krishna, dahi toast.

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This May Be the Perfect Potato Dish

Chaat comes from the Hindi word chaatna, which means “to lick.” Culinarily, it’s an umbrella term for a group of snacks that are predominantly sold as street food throughout India.

Two features bind chaat dishes: 1) a host of ingredients like sweet an…

Chaat comes from the Hindi word chaatna, which means "to lick." Culinarily, it's an umbrella term for a group of snacks that are predominantly sold as street food throughout India.

Two features bind chaat dishes: 1) a host of ingredients like sweet and hot chutneys, cooked potatoes, and sev (deep-fried chickpea flour noodles) and 2) a gamut of flavors and textures; chaat is sweet, spicy, hot, tangy, soft, runny, and noise-makingly crunchy all at the same time.

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