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Game of Stones 

Kitchen implements that once defined joy and good health in Indian homes

Grinding stones date back to very early times, the first versions appearing with the coming of agriculture around 10,000 years ago.

Every culture had its fair share of stone implements for grinding grains.  In India, the grinding stone was a ubiquitous presence in every household, poor and prosperous, from very early times. The dietary habits of various communities across every state determined the types of uses its grinding stones were put to – from pounding grains and spices to dry/wet grinding pulses, vegetables and herbs for a great number of delectable culinary preparations.

The state of Karnataka has its own significant catalogue of grinding stones, named variously according to the regions they belonged to. They were also slightly different in their designs, though not in their functions. These were the Oralu Kallu, Beeso Kallu and Dundakallu, and their smaller cousin, the Kutni. They were quite versatile and used for pounding grain as well as for dry/wet grinding of many ingredients.

These grinding stones have been an integral part of households in Karnataka for generations. These devices consisted of two sets of stones that worked synchronously driven by muscle power. First, there was a base stone upon which substances for grinding were placed. Atop this was another cylindrically shaped stone with a handle to facilitate grinding using circular motions.

Grinding stones were overtaken by electronic blenders and mixers as a restless and hurried urban social class found that it did not have the time (or patience) for these elaborate preparations. Thus, a culture of convenience eventually replaced a tradition that bestowed wholesomeness and legitimacy to many a regional recipe.

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