Heirloom

  • Function: noun
  • Etymology: Middle English heirlome, from heir + lome
  • Date: 15th century

1 : a piece of property that descends to the heir as an inseparable part of an inheritance of real property
2 : something of special value handed on from one generation to another
3 : a horticultural variety that has survived for several generations usually due to the efforts of private individuals

The tabla is a popular Indian percussion instrument. The instrument consists of a pair of hand drums of contrasting sizes and timbres, tuned with ropes stretched across the drums.

At my wedding, my parents gifted me a miniature pair, hand crafted from heavy silver. They gave my sister a similar pair, and the drums are now a treasured family heirloom. After coming to the US, they were the first thing I sent for.
 

I use them to keep cardamom and fennel seeds on the table, as a time-honored after-dinner Indian tradition. Cardamom and fennel are used in India as mouth fresheners, much like the American chocolate mint. Fennel seeds may or may not be toasted, and are sometimes covered with pastel colored sugar coating. Cardamom seeds may be sweetened and painted with silver dust for a more elegant presentation.

The picture goes to Jugalbandi September, which is paired with the Monthly Mingle– theme heirloom. 

*Updated on 10/18/09- I won it! The elusive Click Spectra- for best capture.

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About purplesque

Psychiatrist, cook, bookworm, photographer. Not necessarily in that order.
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21 Responses to Heirloom

  1. Waterbaby says:

    Wish you'd posted a pic of the tabla … for a moment as you transitioned from cardamom seeds to tabla, I thought those were the tabla! and they seemed tiny for drums, then I see from googling that those are miniature replicas! It's a nice pic.

  2. Purplesque says:

    You are absolutely right. I changed the post so that it makes more sense. Thanks.

  3. Waterbaby says:

    thank you. makes sense now.

  4. great post – I felt the emotion and attachment.

  5. Emjay says:

    What a wonderful wedding gift from your parents – the heirloom "drums" are so beautiful. My father used to suggest fennel seeds for indigestion.

  6. Purplesque says:

    Its not a mint-flavored chocolate frog, really.*Hops away as fast as possible.*

  7. Purplesque says:

    Your father the herb grower- I remember. 🙂 I sometimes add fennel seeds to heavy lentil/bean dishes to help with digestion. They are also infused in water for the same effect, but I don't like the odor of boiled fennel.

  8. jaklumen says:

    I use them to keep cardamom and fennel seeds on the table, as a
    time-honored after-dinner Indian tradition. Cardamom and fennel are
    used in India as mouth fresheners, much like the American chocolate
    mint. Fennel seeds may or may not be toasted, and are sometimes covered
    with pastel colored sugar coating. Cardamom seeds may be sweetened and
    painted with silver dust for a more elegant presentation.They seem to be a regular thing at the Indian restaurants I've gone to, complete with the pastel colored sugar coating. I'd say it's more effective, and less calories to boot.

  9. Purplesque says:

    Yep. I tend to stay away from the restaurant bowls, unless there is a spoon involved- the result of a long lost study on the number of E. coli found on communal restaurant bowls in India…lol

  10. jaklumen says:

    Making a mental note of that. Thanks.

  11. Jabulani says:

    What totally fabulous pictures, and I love the idea of the heirloom with a useful purpose instead of just a dust-gatherer!! Although I adore cardamom, I'm with Flamingo Dancer … chocolate over cardamom every time. Btw, it's not just "communal restaurant bowls in India" which have E.coli found in them… pubs in England suffer a similar peculiarity …

  12. bee says:

    so gorgeous. thank you.

  13. Aubrey says:

    Love the pictures, such rich silvers and golds. Toasted fennel seeds sound delicious. Do you have a recipe hanging around? Thanksgiving is coming up, and it might be time to surprise the family…
    Oh, and I don't think there are enough heirlooms in this world.

  14. Purplesque says:

    Thanks!To toast fennel seeds, heat a small heavy skillet (cast iron is best) to medium-hot. Add enough fennel seeds to spread over the pan in a single layer. Stir them around until they start to brown very slightly and smell smoky, maybe a couple of minutes. Take off the heat and let them cool.Candied fennel is usually not made at home, but you can buy it in bulk here.You can also make a mouth freshener mix- mukhwas- by mixing toasted fennel seeds, candied fennel seeds, and toasted sweetened coconut flakes.p.s. If you buy fennel seeds at the Indian store, they usually come in two varieties- the big fat seeds and the very fine ones. The big ones are better for cooking, the fine ones to eat as a mouth freshener.

  15. Purplesque says:

    Thanks.. I would actually have to think if offered a choice of chocolate vs. cardamom. If it was mint-flavored chocolate, though, I'd choose the cardamom.Re: loo bacteria in food bowls, there was a recent episode of Food Detectives where they found no difference in the bacterial content of bar foods as compared to regular foods, except in the case of cheese. Either way, I like to stay away from all kinds of communal bowls, no matter what country I am in. 🙂

  16. Jabulani says:

    Tell you what, hand me the chocolate mint, and I'll let you have my cardamom. Deal? Re communal bowls, I think I agree with you. Mind you, when you come stay with us, you're gonna have to have your veggies in a communal bowl. We pass them round the table to serve. Mind you, there's a spoon in the bowl – use it! Anyone seen dipping their little piggies into the food will get their hands slapped with my bal-bodhani spoon 😀

  17. Purplesque says:

    Mind you, there's a spoon in the bowl – use it!LOL I am definitely going to dip my fingers in the bowl at least once, just to see you wield your bal-bodhani spoon!Now, home cooking is completely different. While I maintain complete cleanliness (no double dipping, even for the cook) while cooking, A and I often eat in one plate, and we sometimes eat with our hands. As long as everyone washes their hands, I can live with their cooties.

  18. Jabulani says:

    Some meals just HAVE to be eaten with your hands … roast dinner is not one of them!! Although I'd be highly amused to see someone try hahahaha

  19. bee says:

    the fat fenel seeds (saunf) in the indian stores are fennel. the thin ones (lucknowi saunf) are aniseed, a close relative.

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