Small Change

Life lessons in a Chetty Melaka kitchen

My grandaunt, who witnessed two world wars, taught us how to live a rich life without breaking the bank

There was a time, before the invention of kitchen boons such as electric blenders and Kitchenaid, when Chetty Melaka families in Singapore plated up a veritable cornucopia of Indian Peranakan dishes on a highly restrained budget, using the simplest of kitchen utensils.

There were the lesung (granite mortar, usually sold with a matching granite pestle) - the "eclectic blenders" of the era - which could pulverise, mash up and liquefy almost any ingredient known to man. With such sturdily reductive latter-day "appliances", one hardly needed Kitchenaid. And there was no need to go to the gym; the arduous pounding made sure one had quite a workout - to say nothing of toned arms.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 05, 2018, with the headline 'Life lessons in a Chetty Melaka kitchen'. Print Edition | Subscribe