CHENNAI: There was a time when the ammi kuzhavi was a mainstay in every home. “One could find this in every house before. Food items like sambhar, chutney taste delicious if you use the ammi kuzhavi to grind the spices,” says Chitra, a home maker.
Less than a week ago, a man murdered his mother using the same multipurpose ammi kuzhavi — a manner of killing and assault that has become as rare as the stones themself.
This stone has given a tantalising treat to many but with time and with the advent of technology the demand for the ammi kallu has became almost void. “Previously, we used to sell 30 kallus a month but now it has come down to 5 or sometimes even nil,” said Ganapathi, who works at Rathna stores, one of the places that sell these stones. Ammi kuzhavi can be found in various shops selling kitchenware in T Nagar, Sowcarpet and a few others.
Apart from being used to make scrumptious delicacies, this stone also has traditional relevance. It is used in Tamil Brahmin marriages, when the bride places her foot on the stone to let the groom insert the toe ring (metti). Even though ammi kallu is now not easily spotted in houses, it is a sure sight in kalyana mandapams (marriage halls). Saravanan, owner of Ponny stores added, “The production of ammi kallu has decreased as people prefer using a mixer and grinder. It saves time. We sell it because we want to uphold our ancient traditions, this is a magical stone, which provides health benefits and is a part of our shastras. We’ll stop selling once the production stops.”
“The production of ammi kallu has decreased because of low demand but whenever we get it, we have a few customers thronging mainly to buy it for customary purposes,” said Ganapathi.
Nowadays, people prefer the miniature ammi kuzhavi, which is not as rare to find in the city. “I use the miniature ammi as it is lighter and easy to use. I had become a little lazy in between and began to use mixer. But I soon began to miss the real non-machine taste of food, so I switched over to ammi kallu. My mother was very happy with my decision,” said Lalitha, a working parent
The price of ammi kuzhavi starts from `1000. It is less used these days because of time constraints, said Charulatha an LIC agent. “Ammi kuzhavi requires a lot of effort and time. I do miss the taste of food prepared using it but I’m a working woman. My mother still uses the stone to grind and mix spices. She loves it,” she added.