My grandmother’s gym

I grew up in a joint family, and all of us at home have great memories of the fun times we had with our grand mom. She usually sat up late with us, when we tried to conquer our books, and crammed for tests.  She was very active right into her eighties.

The concept of working out and exercising were alien to her.  For their generation, there was enough equipment in the kitchen to help burn those extra calories.

Indian women in those times did all their dry and wet grinding, pounding and crushing of grains and other food items and masalas at home, using a few devices – in our language these are called ‘Aatukkal‘ (grinding stone), Ammikkal (loosely means rolling/crushing stone), ‘Ural & Ulakai‘ (pounding stone and rod) and ‘Sevai Naazhi‘ (rice vermicelli maker).

Indian cooking involves a lot of blending, and grinding of spices and ingredients for nearly every dish, so my grand mom’s and to a certain extent, my mom’s generation, used these devices.  I still remember the ones we had at home.

The Aatukkal and Ammikkal were made of solid granite stone, polished and carved to the shape required.  The pestles weighed around 2 or 3 kg each.  So, working these for an hour for wet grinding and 20 minutes for the blending of spices, took care of their daily strength training requirements.

Image courtesy -

The Aattukal or Grinding Stone used for preparing wet rice batter for salted pancakes


    The Ammikkal used for crushing and blending. Picture courtesy –

The Naazhi (rice vermicelli maker), required a twisting movement and force to turn the handle, to squeeze the steamed rice dough into beautiful vermicelli string hoppers.  They did this multiple times to make enough for all of us at home.

Sevai nazhi 1

          The Sevai Naazhi or the rice vermicelli maker – picture courtesy

The Ural and Ulakai (the pounding rod and vessel) were usually used to pound wheat and other grains to prepare whole-grain flour.  Two women stood at opposite ends and pounded in a rhythmic manner, passing the rod to the other in turns, chit chatting and singing at times.


       The Ural and Ulakai – the pounding rod and the vessel – image courtesy –

Now we have mixer-grinders, wet grinders, ready-made vermicelli and flour.  And then, we go work out in the gym.

Our ancestors were wiser, they got their work and workout done in one shot.  After all, they had the luxury of a home-gym.

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43 Responses to My grandmother’s gym

  1. Erika Kind says:

    That was a very interesting read, Nimi. I enjoy reading about the (former) habits of other countries and cultures. I love the insight you have provided about the Indian way of preparing spides, herbs, grains… that truly is a workout itself.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Prajakta says:

    This was a great post Nimi! I was reading about the same thing in a book. We may be “modern” but we have given up on some of our “cultural” aspects which had a depth that we are understanding only too late.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. priyankamoraes says:

    We still use one at home in Goa . It is called Rogdo. I still remember the painstaking moves to get the masala to a wanted consistency . Gosh it was tiring to watch and we would use a coconut shell spoon to scoop out the masala . I have one such spoon at home here in Mumbai too . Can never replicate those flavours with an electric grinder. NEVER!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Interesting concept Nimi! Yes, I’ve seen some of these cultural ways of cooking, before technology, on shows like the Amazing Race. It’s incredible how physically taxing they were.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Interesting to learn this Nimi 😀
    In older times the women had enough to do at home and not time for anything else. Today with machines there are time to work outside the home too.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Belinda Crane says:

    Home gym! Nimi, that’s great! lol! And now we have the Thermomix. It’s not really the same thing is it? :)!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. … is beyond ‘interesting’, this post. It is a tribute to the love for family and the devotion to marriage–such daily/weekly labours cited here don’t begin to touch those other manual labour jobs like pounding the clothes when washing them by hand, then hanging them in the sun–tending to the gardens, the children. It is a recipe for what love is really all about. Thank you for sharing this very revealing post. The photos of these tools tells it all. 2 to 3 kg pestle — wow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • nimi naren says:

      Thank you very much for taking the time to read this post and your lovely comment. I agree that it is a total labour of love.

      Thank you for the follow. I truly enjoy water colours and enjoyed reading and seeing your water colour paintings. I paint a bit and am currently working on a folk style of painting called Gond art from India.


  8. barnraised says:

    So true! It seems when we go back to our roots, we use our bodies more and end up healthier and happier…rather than stressed from all the rushing around trying to fit the gym in!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. NJ says:

    Yet again you have revived my memories.. even i have tried my hand in making chutney’s by mortar and pestle :P. And the taste of chutney made from them was way far better then the one from electric grinder’s 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. NJ says:

    Sorry the link is

    check is this the URL u r accessing

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Very practical put. After using customized kitchen stuffs we very often feel inactive, but

    Liked by 1 person

  12. our ancestors were active and enough energetic:)

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Himali Shah says:

    We still use the stone one at home for crushing and grinding some stuff. Mom generally uses it ! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Pingback: Pounded Palmyra Sprout – Megala's Kitchen

  15. Megala says:

    Hi, I have linked this post in my post here: Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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