Spices and seasonings crackle and crunch under the weight of the lorha, releasing an intoxicating scent—and you just know something good is about to go down in the kitchen. If this scenario rang any bells for you, then you’re a lucky person, and you know the value of the original way of grinding up seasoning in your aaje’s (paternal grandmother) and nani’s (maternal grandmother) kitchens. Yes, we live in the age of food processors and grinders, but can anything truly replace the good ole sil and lorha? I know I am never giving up my tawa for a griddle, so if you are lucky enough to have the true and traditional sil and lorha, I doubt you would want to give that up either.
The sil and lorha comes all the way from India. The Indian indentured labourers, who came to Trinidad in 1945, brought their own traditional East Indian cuisine, in addition to the traditional utensils that they used to prepare meals. They brought the sil and lorha, bailna (rolling pin) and kalchul (metal ladle), among many other popular kitchen tools that are still used in many Trinidadian households today.
In India, the sil and lorha is known as “sil-batta” in Hindi, and in Nepal, it is known as silauto-lohoro, over time the name was shortened down to sil and lorha. A sil is a cylindrical slab of brick made from stone (granite, sandstone or limestone) used to grind seasonings on the flatter base, known as the lorha. Very much like the mortar and pestle, these two tools rely on each other to get the job done.