Mortar and Pestles and Cast Iron Pans and Coconut Scrapers, Oh My!

13 October 2009
By

On our way to Arpico in Battaramulla for our weekly grocery shopping, we stopped off at a shop. This shop is about 100 feet east of Arpico on the opposite side of the road in the even that anyone’s looking for it. πŸ˜€

We stopped because, the last time we were there, I saw that they had stone mortar and pestles, something which I had been trying to find, to no avail, for a couple or four years.

Odels has the smooth marble ones, but five years ago, they were priced at around Rs.2500 (~$25US), which I thought was severely overpriced. Wooden ones are easy enough to find here, but whatever’s being crushed leaves a smell and taste behind. Wooden mortar and pestles that are used to crush both garlic cloves and nutmeg? Yeah, no. πŸ˜€

I wanted stone of some kind. Easier to keep clean and free from odors and tastes and residue. πŸ˜€

In this picture, starting from the bottom right corner, there’s an orange plastic rectangular basin. To its immediate left, there are aluminum baking trays. To their left is a cast iron griddle in front of aluminum griddles. These griddles are used here to cook rotis and the like. I’d been wanting one (along with a cast iron Dutch oven, pots, and pans…) for a long time but haven’t seen them here before, and asking around just got me strange looks.

I was leaning out of the trishaw – Fahim had gone in to buy the mortar & pestle – and looked at the griddle. Looked again and thought, hey, that looks like cast iron. Cast iron???? So I jumped out of the trishaw and picked it up – heavy like cast iron and the right look and texture. I go into the shop and ask Fahim to ask what this is made of. Sure enough, the guy responds with cast iron. In Sinhala, of course. πŸ™‚

Anyway. To their immediate left are a couple of mortar and pestles, but these are wooden on the outside and lined on the inside with aluminum. I don’t want aluminum.

Above and behind the wood/aluminum mortar & pestles & griddles are flat rectanguar slabs of rock that are smaller on the bottom than on the top. Those are grinding stones. Fahim’s mom uses them for grinding up coconut and spices for sambols. We have one cemented into a platform at the back of the house, but I can’t use it because of my back.

Above those slabs is one aluminum/wood mortar & pestle and one stone pestle. The pestle I walked away with. πŸ˜€

To the left of the slabs of stone is a bench coconut scraper. I’ve got a better picture coming up. πŸ™‚ To the right of the stone slabs is an even larger pestle. I thought it would be overkill for me and my small kitchen.

In this picture we have the other side of the entrance with various aluminum pots & bowls, coconut spoons, and so on. Ooooh, exciting. I know. πŸ˜€

Here we have an electric coconut scraper in the first image. I saw one similar to this at Arpico a month or so back for over Rs.7,000 (~$70US). Overkill for us for sure.

In the second image is a bench coconut scraper. Not a great shot. I’ll have to get a better picture. It’s a bench about four inches off the ground, long enough to sit on it straddled. The coconut scraper part is wrapped in the plastic at the top, or front end.

Then check out the third picture, which is another coconut scraper, but this one is attached to a C-clamp, so it can be fastened to a counter- or table-top temporarily. This is the coconut scraper I use, and with it, I can scrape a whole coconut in about a minute, perhaps a shade less.

And here are the requisite close-ups of the mortar & pestle (~Rs.900 or ~$9US) and cast iron griddle (~Rs.300 or ~$3US) I got. The mortar & pestle is still rough and will take time and use to smooth down. It’s what’s available, so I go with it. πŸ™‚ The griddle is about 10" in diameter, the biggest they had. I’ve started the seasoning process on it already…

Tags: , cast iron pans, coconut scrapers, coconut spoons, mortar & pestle, ,

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15 Responses

  1. Holy cats! I want a cast iron griddle for $3 US! Of course, shipping it from Sri Lanka would totally obliterate the bargain. πŸ˜›

    And Laurie, as ever, you can have my share of the coconut scrapers along w/all them there coconuts. Yeesh! Just thinking about such has me itching!
    .-= Virginia Lee´s last blog ..Brief Hiatus =-.

  2. #2
    Laurie 

    I know! I was completely shocked at the price when I found out later at home. I was expecting at least Rs.1000, especially given that the guy in the store saw me, Pale White Chick, which usually means an automatic massive price increase.

    Keep in mind, though, that this griddle is not as thick as the griddles you get in the US or Canada. This one is about, oh, 60-70% the thickness of the US or Canadian ones.

  3. #3
    Pam 

    Congrats on the foodie blogroll!

  4. #4
    Laurie 

    Thanks! πŸ™‚ And thanks for visiting & commenting. πŸ™‚

  5. #5
    e4c5 

    Since Battaramulla has lots of pale white chicks, and because these pale white chicks know the real price of goods thanks to input from neighbours, domestics and chauffers, merchants can’t increase the price as readily as in other towns.

  6. #6
    Laurie 

    Ah, that makes sense. Lots of sense. Thanks for the explanation. πŸ™‚

  7. #7
    purplesque 

    Ooh..what a loot! Love your mortar-pestle and the griddle. If the griddle is anything like the Indian tava used to make rotis,it will last you forever..just scrub it with an old piece of unglazed brick instead of using soap, and cook lots of butter-and-ghee rich breads on it. πŸ˜€
    .-= purplesque´s last blog ..I Diet Pizza =-.

  8. #8
    Laurie 

    Purplesque, that’s exactly what my cast iron griddle is. I’ve been cooking with cast iron since I was a child, so I’m quite familiar with it and how long it lasts, which is a huge part of the reason why I want more cast iron pieces so badly. πŸ˜€ Couldn’t bring my cast iron over from Canada, sadly.

    I’ve never used brick to clean ’em. I’ve used the pot scrubbers at most, but more often than not, just use water and a cloth and everything comes off fine.

    I’m doing the slow-and-lazy way to seasoning, ie seasoning it as I use it, and it’s coming along very nicely. Nothing’s stuck to it yet. πŸ˜€

  9. #9
    Thani 

    hi

    your blog is very amazing
    i am interested by the electric coconut scraper, wher can buy it?
    (web site…) i’m in europe (france)

  10. #10
    Patricia Leo 

    Laurie, I am interested in the electric coconut scraper. How can I get one. Or maybe at least the round scraper bit and make my own attachment. Please inform. Do we need to ship. I’m in Hawaii, on the big island. Leo

  11. #11
    Laurie 

    I would suggest doing a search on “electric coconut scraper”. I found a few sites selling different types of electric coconut scrapers by using Google. One such site is http://www.kokonutpacific.com.au/OilSales/ProductInfo/ElectricGrater.php.

    Beyond that, check with Asian shops/markets.

  12. #12
    Denise 

    Hi Laurie – I’m a Canadian new to Colombo and finding your blog very helpful! About this store … since I still don’t know directions, if I am standing outside on the street facing Arpico, which way do I walk? Seems like such an awesome store to pick up some much needed household goods (aside from Arpico).

    Cheers,
    Denise

  13. #13
    Laurie 

    Hi Denise! I hope you have a great time in Colombo!

    Turn around so your back is to Arpico and you’re facing the other side of the street. Cross to the other side of the street, turn left, and walk. It’ll be around 100 feet down.

    They also have all manner of aluminum and stainless steel pots and all sorts of other useful things. πŸ™‚

  1. […] Spiders and Cob Webs tweetcount_url='http://srilanka.laurieashton.com/2009/10/spiders-and-cob-webs/';tweetcount_title='Spiders and Cob Webs';tweetcount_cnt=0;This picture is for the shop where I bought my stone mortar and pestle and cast iron 10" griddle. […]

  2. […] The first image is from Temple of Thai while the second image was take at my favourite mortar & pestle and cast iron griddle shop. […]

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About LMAshton

Howdy and welcome to my site! I'm Laurie and I'll be your, er, hostess today. :)

I'm a Canadian expat currently living in Singapore. I'm married to a Sri Lankan and lived in Sri Lanka for nearly a decade. We also lived in New Zealand for half a year.

I cook Sri Lankan curries, sambols, and mallungs. I bake bread using wild yeast (sourdough that isn't sour). I bake on the stove. I experiment with Indian / Malaysian / Indonesian / Thai / whatever cuisines interest me. And I experiment wildly.

Life is an adventure. Join me! :)

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