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Museum of Oxford Digital Exhibitions

Making food at home

Polvoron ('Pulboron') moulder

Artwork by Gigi Yebra

Polvoron ('Pulboron') moulder

Gigi Yebra, photo by Fran Monks

Polvoron ('Pulboron') moulder

Artwork by Gigi Yebra

Home-made sweets

This mould can be used to make polvorón, a popular sweet in the Philippines. 

"When I was eight years old, I was taught how to make my first dessert - the polvorón. This one I brought today is from Goldilocks, a very well known Filipino restaurant-bakery. The polvorón is made of powdered milk, flour butter, and sugar. That’s it - you toast the flour, melt the butter, put it all together and it becomes sticky. And this here is my first polvorón moulder I got when I was a teenager. You use it like a stamp, you pack it in with the mixture, press it against the bowl, and then it comes out in the right shape. Then you cut cellophane into squares and wrap it. You can have different colours of the cellophane, for example at Christmas it would be green and red. You can also use different flours, like almond. It’s very common for children to have it at any feast. There’s even a polvorón eating contest - you eat it and then you have to whistle. Which is hard because it’s really powdery and sticky. First one to eat it and whistle wins!”

Words by Geraldine Yebra

Gigi talks about the polvoron moulder

Butter churn

Fresh butter

"My memory goes back to when I was about 7 years old & to our village in India. Mum would make / set the yogurt in an earthenware pot at night, wrap the pot up in an old blanket – to keep it warm - & leave it to set all night.

First thing in the morning, she would start to churn the set yogurt with using the plunger. Lo & behold, about 10 minutes later a white solid mass would start to form at the top.

As kids, we always wanted to be the first one to taste the fresh white butter – perfect with parathas or just on its own with a bit of sugar. The buttermilk made a delicious cooling drink & any liquid left was used for cooking. Nothing was wasted.

We had a couple of buffalos in the yard & as it turns out, buffalo milk is high in protein & fat content thus best for making butter. This is the same churn my mum used – what sweet memories!"

Words by Kanta Gopal

Kalpana's flour grinder

Kalpana's toy flour grinder

Kalpana's flour grinder

Kalpana Patel, photo by Fran Monks

Making flour at home 

" just goes round and round as you can see, and it can be really painful to do because your arms can really start aching. I remember when I went to India the very first time in 1974, I was at my mother’s home town, and my mum’s auntie, and they all was sitting there making flour. And my nana, she actually made me sit down and do the flour. After a while your upper arm really hurts because it’s much more bigger than this, this is just a toy one that I’ve got but I’ve had this for years, so it’s been in my family for about 40 years now!

But in India, it’s actually made out of 2 stones put together and it just goes round. You’d have a little handle, and it just keeps going round. And they make all sorts of different types of flours in there. This is a wooden, toy one. The original ones, they would be made out of cement, in a round shape, but made out of cement, so it grinds the flour better. So, the bottom one’s quite big and the top one is small and then you have a handle on top of that, and it just keeps going round to make the flour. But now they’ve invented an electric machine, most of the houses in India, they would have that and they would use that all the time. I know my family in India has it and they use it all the time. They don’t go out to get their flours done, they do it at home. And even the mung beans, they would actually split the mung beans at home instead of going out. That’s why when I came back from India, because we didn’t have one here, I used to tell my brothers, cos none of my family had actually been to India, we came from Kenya, and from the children I was the first one to go to India, so when I came back I was telling them of all the things - the new things that I saw which we’ve never seen before."

Words by Kalpana Patel