I made Phirni for Diwali (I did ‘brag’ about it, if you remember). It took me about 2 hours of continuous stirring on low flame (mom’s instructions) to get the right (almost right, cause mom thought that another half hour of stirring would have yielded better results) consistency. One thing that really helped was using a wooden spoon. It’s round handle fits better in the palm making the whole process very ergonomically. Why else do you think that cricket bats, tennis racquets, hockey sticks, all sports equipment is made with rounded handles?! Also a spoon with hard edges can damage delicate ingredients. Wooden spoons, with their smooth and gentle curves are much less likely to bruise, crush or tear your ingredients as you stir.
Some extra marks for the wooden spoon as I could leave it behind in the pan while I took breaks to stretch my shoulder. Wooden spoons are non-conductive. However long they stay in the pan, they are never hot! They almost never react with your food, leaving it just the way it is supposed to be. You can read this and some more info about using wooden spoons from here.
On my recent trip to Kutch, I met Vagha Meran Vaghela and his family. The entire family is involved in lacquer work and they make beautiful wooden spoons, candle stands, bangle holders, etc using a hand operated lathe. The process is so eco-friendly and sustainable that all the materials are organic and locally sourced. The water-resistant resin is collected from the bark of a local tree, mixed with colours sourced fom other natural sources and made into bars of coloured lacquer used in this process.
The shape of the wooden spoon is first crafted with wood from the locally available babool tree.The spoon is then carefully fitted inbetween the two ends of the lathe and the bar of colour is added to it while it rotates. The rotation of the lathe is orchestrated by the back and forth movement of the a bamboo stick tied with a piece of thread.
The surface of the spoon is roughed up to enable the resin to stick easily to the sides.
Next the resin is gradually applied on the surface with one hand, while keeping the rotation constant (the back and forth movement) of the other hand.
Then vertical lines are added on the coloured surface using rods covered with the resin.
Every line is added with precision by hand.
Next the surface is wiped with a small cloth dipped in oil. The movement is kept constant.
This highly precise process creates rippled on the surface and the colours are altered in a constant motion.
The result is a beautiful piece of art. The entire family is involved in this process and the process has passed down through the generations. There are few products in line that I will introduce in the coming weeks.
For now, I am happy with my wooden spoon set and I am sure that my Christmas cake will come out better!