When I got married, for the first few months we stayed with Amma, Appa and Nachi. Everyday in the afternoon after lunch was done, Amma would take out a huge “tambalam” … Basically a huge plate with sides and a hollow space in between. She would pour a few cups of rice or pulses or dry spices and start cleaning them and I started helping her out with this, because it was easy for me to do :):). For every cup of rice we would remove at least 20 or 30 foreign grains or small stones.
Then slowly we shifted to packed groceries from Nilgiris or Vitan supermarket in Chennai and this work of picking foreign grains or stones reduced. Many of the food stuff was still bought “loose” at “kirana” (grocery) stores. Then you had to clean them before cooking.
Finally in 2002 when we shifted to Gurgaon and started buying from Needs Supermarket, most of the food stuff did not require this cleaning before cooking as they were cleaned and “packed”. Over the last 10 years or so, in most metro cities and even many small towns you have everything branded and packed in “polythene”. Just cut the pack and wash the food stuff and start cooking !!
As we are travelling in Himachal we find many “kirana” stores selling stuff “loose” and unpacked. Yesterday we bought rice from a store near Kamand where an IIT has come up. It was bought loose and packed in a paper bag. We also bought some pulses in Kullu in the same manner. Today my mother was about to start using the pulses and rice without cleaning and I told her not to :):). Even she had forgotten the old process of picking stones and foreign grains.
Now a quiz for all the readers, from the photograph below identify the grains of rice and the non-rice grains :):):):). People over 40 will get this easily because even if you didn’t help your mom with the cleaning, you would have watched enough movies where they showed the cunning “seth” mixing rice-like stones and making a fast buck.