Living in Consciousness ~ Indi(r)a’s Food and Garden Weblog

Tuning into Mandoline

My Mandoline
My 8-year old Mandoline

I tune into the radio when I am in the kitchen. The relaxing talk and tunes from radio help to make the routine job of cutting and cleaning go easy.

Just like music, mandoline is a nice thing to have in a kitchen. It makes it a breeze to prepare vegetables for salads, curries and raitas. And also for chips and bajjis. The replaceable inserts that come with mandoline are extremely useful for different styles of fine and uniform chopping. I use mandoline regularly to cut vegetables like carrots, potatoes, karela and cabbage. Also beetroot, cucumber, plantain and radish. Time saved on cabbage cutting alone makes the mandoline a must have in the kitchen, if you ask me.

Cooking can be a satisfying and enjoyable activity when we have right tools and happy vegetables. For me, a sharp mandoline with its quick and clean cutting blades is the right tool that will make chopping vegetables a happy job.

How about you? Are you a fan of Mandoline? Here are some mandoline tunes from (plastic and stainless steel).

Tools and Utensils from My Kitchen:

Grain Mill (Tiragali)
Sumeet Mixer and Grinder
Skillet to Preapre Pancake Puffs and Ponganalu

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Utensils,Mahanandi Selections (Sunday May 25, 2008 at 8:31 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Mahanandi Selections ~ Grain Mill

I often get asked via comments and email, to recommend cooking utensils and products. I am extremely particular about the products that I buy for my kitchen. I wasn’t sure my taste is your cup of coffee, so I was reluctant all these years. Now, I have decided to take up the challenge. “Mahanandi Selections”, the shopping suggestions series is going to be a new one on Mahanandi and features products that I have at my home or would like to have in my kitchen.

I hope you find this new series interesting and useful.


Grain Mill (Issurayyi, Tiragali)

Image courtesy: Life in the Holyland

Back home, my family uses stone-made grain mill, similar to the one shown in the photograph to mill grains. This circular shaped stone mill is called “Issurayyi and Tiragali” in my language Telugu. We use it mainly for making flour for sweets like sunnundalu and attarasalu (adhirsam). The flour fineness matters a lot for these traditional sweets. Too fine powder, the sweet will stick to the roof of the mouth. Too coarse, it would be difficult to shape them. The advantage of stone-made grain mill is we can manually control the milled particle size, which in turn helps to make perfect sweets.

The one at my parent’s home is much smaller in size. The circular stones are about the size of big dinner plates and about the thickness of steroid-fed biceps muscle. It’s quite old and my mother keeps it in good condition. I remember turning the stone mill to help my mother.

This is how the stone grain mill works: A jute cloth will be placed on the flour and the stone mill will be placed on the cloth. The mill is essentially made of two circular stones. The lower circular stone stays stationary and the upper stone moves. It has an upright handle on the corner and this is used to turn the stone. The grain will be poured, a handful at a time, through the hole in the center of upper millstone, while the stone is turned continuously. Friction and weight created by the upper stone mills the grain. And the flour will get gradually pushed to the edge and falls out on to the cloth. Depending on the speed at which it is rotated and by the strength applied, the milled grain consistency varies – from fine, to medium to coarse. It may sound complicated but the whole thing operates on simple friction based principle. Looks wise Issurayyi is a real beauty. Operating wise, it’s a great way to keep the upper hands slender.

After moving to US, I was looking for a grain mill that operates in issurayyi style. I found one few years ago at a shop called Tuesday Morning. It’s a Porkert brand grain mill. A different look and feel but operates on the same principle. A big plus is it is very well made and of quality materials. The one I have has both ceramic and metallic burr plates. Ceramic ones are used for grinding oily nuts etc and metallic burr plates are great for grains and lentils like rice, urad dal etc. We have to assemble the parts and fix the machine to a table and operate it manually by rotating the handle. I have been using it to prepare sunnundalu mainly. This sweet is that important to us and cannot be made of flour from a coffee grinder or Sumeet style mixer-grinder.

If you have a traditional preparation requirement, where the milled grain size matters a lot, then go for this type of grain mill. It’s a hard, sweat inducing upper arm workout but the end result is definitely worth the effort. I have to warn you though, these manually operated machines are not magic abracadabra kind of things. A real zeal and know-how is essential for good experience.


1. You need to make some trials before you could get the required flour fineness. This could be done by adjusting the gap between the millstones, handle turning speed, and by adjusting the quantity of grains through the hopper.

2. This machine looks and works great. But also consumes considerable amount of time and effort to get the required results.

Machine Details


PORKERT’s Kitchen Grinding Mill ~ A Kitchen Gadget that I Own
Preparing Sunnundalu Sweet at home with PORKERT’s Kitchen Grinding Mill, Type 150

To purchase:

Porkert’s Manual Grain Mill

Different types of Grain Mills from

Previously on Mahanandi Selections :
Sumeet Mixer Grinder
Aebleskiver Skillet (Ponganalu/Paniyaram/Uniyappam Pan)


Note: The things that I feature at ‘Mahanandi Selections’ (MS), reflects my own cooking style. You may regard a tool that I deem essential as an expendable thing or vice versa. I have absolutely no interest to convince you otherwise. It is good to be realistic about our own capabilties, limitations and what we can afford.
MS Comment Policy: Brand wars and malicious hearsay with intent to damage a brand reputation – comments of this nature will get scrubbed from comment space.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Indian Kitchen,Indian Utensils,Mahanandi Selections (Friday August 3, 2007 at 1:30 pm- permalink)
Comments (30)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Flour Sievers (India) and Sifter (US)

Santhi of ‘Me and My Kitchen’ selected “Flour” to feature for August’s JFI Event.

How can we talk about flour, without talking about flour sifters? Two important things I have learned to pay attention when cooking with flours are –

Freshness of flour
Sieving and sifting the flour

Buying freshly milled flour is not possible anymore here where I live, but sieving and sifting is; which helps to break up clumps, to remove foreign matter and also to aerate the flour. Aerated flour is a beautiful thing to work with, mixes easily with liquids and other foods without forming into lumps. At my mother’s home growing up, it was often our (the children’s) duty to sieve the flour for chapatis etc. Needless to say, it was quite an enjoyable task.

I have two sifters. The round one with several discs (to control the fineness of flour) is a traditional flour sifter from India. (My friend who recently moved back to India from US gave it to me). The second one, the traditional flour sifter people use here, I bought it from Pittsburgh flea market few years ago. Both are easy to use and my choice depends on the amount of flour I am using in a recipe.

Flour Sievers and Sifter

Flour sievers (sifters) from India and from US – For this week’s Indian Kitchen

Flour Sievers in different sizes from India

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Kitchen,Indian Utensils (Sunday July 30, 2006 at 11:16 pm- permalink)
Comments (15)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Sanagalu (Kala Chana, Black Chickpeas)

One Chickpea (Chana, Choleye, Sanaga) ~ Different Forms
For This Week’s Indian Kitchen

Green fresh chana – Shelled from pods (and available frozen in Indian grocery shops).

Black chickpeas (Kala Chana) – Result of green chana dried under the sun.

Chana Dal (Bengal Gram, Sanaga Pappu) – Prepared by splitting the black chickpeas and removing the brownish-black outer skins.

Roasted Chana Dal (Dalia, Pappulu) – Prepared by roasting black chickpeas in special kilns and then splitting and removing the brownish-black outer skins.


Contributions From Fellow Bloggers For Indian Kitchen Series

Kavvam (Buttermilk Churner)
Kavvam (Buttermilk Churner) ~ To “Cool Those Summers”, from Yadbhavishya

Boondhi Maker
Boondhi Strainers and Makers ~ To Prepare Boondhi Laddu, from Foodnewbie

Thanks Vidyanath and Sudha for sending me these photos for Indian Kitchen series.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Chana Dal,Chana Dal-Roasted (Dalia),Chickpeas-Black,Indian Ingredients,Indian Kitchen,Indian Utensils (Sunday July 23, 2006 at 3:08 pm- permalink)
Comments (6)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Traditional Indian Iron Flat Pans and Skillet (To Cook Chapati, Roti, Dosa & Ponganalu)

For this week’s “Indian Kitchen” and in response to requests about my cast iron cookware – here are some my very well seasoned cast iron flat pans and skillet that I use regularly and specifically to prepare chapatis, sorghum roti, dosa and ponganalu.

Chapati pennam
Traditional iron pan with thin bottom to prepare chapatis(parathas, wheat rotis) – brought it from Nandyala (my hometown in India).

Roti Pennam to prepare Sorghum Roti
Traditional iron pan with round bottom to prepare Jonna rotte(Sorghum roti) – Brought it from Nandyala

Dosa Pennam
Thick bottomed, flat cast iron pan to prepare dosa, utappam, pesarattu etc – bought this at ‘Target’.

Ponganala Pennam
Traditional iron skillet with round impressions to hold the batter, to cook a South Indian breakfast called “ponganalu” – brought it from Nandyala.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Indian Kitchen,Indian Utensils (Sunday March 19, 2006 at 3:24 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

‘Jaadilu’ – To Store Pickles (Ceramic Jars/Bharani)


These are the kind of jars, my family uses back home in Andhra to store pickles like mango, lime and amla etc., They are our traditional kitchenware and I love the coloring, the shape of these beautiful ceramic jars. It’s been my hobby to collect these, here. So far I found the ones in the photo, from garage sales, flea/farmer markets and thrift shops etc., The price range I paid for these was 25 cents to 5 dollars, depending on the size.

Jaadilu- to store pickles

Ceramic Pickle Jars and Ceramic Mug – My kitchen collection (click on the image to enlarge)

I use these jars to store pickles just like how they are used in India. I also use them to store ghee, spicy powders, snacks like roasted peanuts etc., I love them because they connect me to my homeland. So pretty to look at, they are my treasure finds.

Do you collect kitchen things? I’d love to read about your kitchen collection. Write a comment or post at your blog, showoff your pretty stuff. You’re meme‘ed.:)

Posted in response to this comment.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Kitchen,Indian Utensils,Zen (Personal) (Saturday March 18, 2006 at 2:08 pm- permalink)
Comments (44)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Mortar and Pestle (Rolu, Pothram)

Stone Mortar and Pestle - big one from India and the small one from Ikea

Stone Mortar and Pestle - big one from India and the small one from Ikea
Stone Mortar and Pestle

The big one, I brought it from Nandyala, India from my last visit. It’s weighed around 30 pounds both pestle and mortar combined. More about it here.
The small one, I bought it at Pittsburgh’s Ikea.

Sam, this is for you.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Kitchen,Indian Utensils (Saturday February 25, 2006 at 9:40 am- permalink)
Comments (23)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Muruku Maker

For this week Indian Kitchen , my project of creating online Indian glossary in images:

Bronze murukulu maker from India and Sawa 2000 Cookie press from Sweden – I use both to make murukulu(murukku) in different patterns and shapes.

Bronze muruku maker is available in Indian appliance shops here in US. Sawa cookie press, try Ebay or one of those kitchen gadget selling shops.

Murukula Maker

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Kitchen,Indian Utensils (Sunday December 4, 2005 at 7:24 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Coocnut Scraper & Kuzhi Paniyaram

Swarna from Chennai, sent me via email, these two beautiful images of her kitchen gadgets for my Indian Kitchen series.

She wrote to me…
“Both of these given to me by my mother from Madras. The first one is a hand held coconut grater or scraper would be more apt and the second one is what we call “kuzhi paniyaram” vessel. Kuzhi means hole (literally) in tamil and paniyaram I suppose is the name of the dish. It can be made sweet or savoury. mostly we do the left over idli/dosa batter, chop a few onions, green chillies do the tadka and pour the batter into these moulds. The types of batter we can do is endless really, rava(sooji) combination, maida/jaggery/mashed banana- for a sweet paniyaram.”

Hand Held Coconut Scraper Used for grating the fresh coconut - Sent by  Swarna, reader of this blog,  from UK kuzhi paniyaram or Ponganaala Pennam - Sent by Swarna, a reader of this blog, from UK
Hand held coconut scraper/grater and Kuzhi Paniyaram (Ponganaala Pennam)

Thanks Swarna!

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Kitchen,Indian Utensils (Sunday December 4, 2005 at 1:52 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

The Coffee Filter

For this week Indian kitchen:

It is a stainless steel coffee filter for South Indian style, freshly brewed, chicory coffee

South Indian coffee filter

Indian type of Stainless Steel Coffee Filter

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Kitchen,Indian Utensils (Sunday November 27, 2005 at 1:47 pm- permalink)
Comments (20)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Flea Market Finds

My Sunday Flea Market Find – Made in India, bronze kadai for 25 cents. Isn’t it precious?

Bronze Kadai , Made in India

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Utensils,Zen (Personal) (Sunday July 3, 2005 at 2:11 pm- permalink)
Comments (7)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Kitchen Gadgets

Sam of Beck & Posh came up with “Utensibility” meme, a chance to talk about our kitchen gadgets. Who can resist this meme, certainly not me. It’s a chance to show off my precious few, ‘I could live without them but I don’t want to’ type of kitchen gadgets.

My most expensive purchase is a Wet Grinder for about $100 from a friend. The actual price is about $250. She gave this item to me just before she moved back to India. I wanted a wet grinder for so long and when she offered, I couldn’t resist (Thanks Jyothi).

My Wet Grinder

I regularly prepare dosa, idly, vada and also different kinds of chutneys using this wet grinder. It has two parts – a steel drum and two roller stones connected with each other through a plastic rod in-between. Not only perfect in shape and size but also using and cleaning is hassle free.

Inside Wet Grinder Wet Grinder Parts

Advantage of this wet grinder over regular mixie/blender is that stone grinding do not generate heat/overheat the contents like the mixie/blender blade does, and so in a way this preserves the micronutrients of the contents. This is really true, you can taste the difference and the stone grind batter and chutneys are always taste so much better. My mother’s generation prepared different types of batters and chutneys using a big mortar and pestle and their hands. My generation, with this kind of appliances can get the same taste but without the hard work.

Cheap but most valuable one is the mortar and pestle I purchased at Ikea 3 years ago for about 3 dollars, I think. I can flavor my tea with cardamom or prepare fresh ginger-garlic paste in a jiff and also it’s so pretty to look at too.

My favorite bargain basement item is a Sawa 2000 cookie gun/press, I purchased in Houston at a garage sale for one dollar. It’s a brand new item and has all discs, tips etc., and inside the box, the owners even kept the original receipt from William-Sonoma for 19 dollars. Perhaps a wedding gift, I don’t know but I too keep the receipt inside the box and whenever I use this item I always look at the receipt and feel very happy about how good a deal I got.

I never used cookie gun for its intended purpose but I use it to prepare murukulu or chakri, my favorite snack food, same kind of operation only the dough I use is not cookie dough but different. Various discs and tips that came along with cookie gun are very useful to make murukulu in shapes. I didn’t bring muruku maker from India with me, so I decided to use cookie gun for muruku making and it worked.

Mortar and Pestle My Murukulu Maker

That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed reading about my favorites.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Kitchen,Indian Utensils (Friday July 1, 2005 at 12:02 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: