Several members of Pulkit’s family had questioned his love for cooking, but he was convinced that it was the only thing he wanted to do. “The kitchen is not a man’s domain,” some of them had said. His parents supported him, so he has continued with his dreams.

His nani’s (grandmother’s) cookbook diary is his most prized possession. Traditional Uttar Pradesh recipes of Nimona, Dum Aloo, Kaddu ki sabzi, Bedmi puri and Magdal and Petha sweets, among others, are written in his grandmother’s ancient handwriting. Some of these recipes involve physically grinding spices on a silbatta (a grinding stone), a process that is quite tedious. He still remembers how his nani’s aching joints finally convinced her to buy something expensive for herself — a mixer (or a “mixie,” as they all called it). It took a lot of coaxing from him and his mother, as no one else had really paid attention to the back-breaking effort it took to grind spices for countless preparations every day.

Having learned from her mother’s experience, Pulkit’s mother bought a “mixie” right after she got married. In hindsight, he realised, it was the time-saving and speedy inventions like “mixie” that freed his mother’s time to start a boutique business while managing household chores. Besides, his father was also supportive of her business and began taking on some household chores to help her out.

Pulkit had recently begun to follow YouTube videos by top chefs to level up his cooking skills. He wanted to gain admission into a good hotel management college and began experimenting with various regional and international cuisines and dishes. He, too, used the mixer grinder to make dry masalas, chutneys and gravy bases — from Thenga podi and Kavathyachi chutney to Boror Tenga gravy. Then came delectable desserts like peanut butter smoothies, chocolate mousse, pineapple jam, mango granita and many others, through the magical mixie.

A few years ago, his town didn’t have as many cafes and restaurants as it does now. But his mother, aided by her mixie set, whipped up cafe-like experiences at home on his father’s promotions and his result days. Mango milkshake, chocolate milkshake, chikoo milkshake, cold coffee — you name it, she made it all. These would always be accompanied by sandwiches served with a side of dhaniya or pudina chutney. Needless to say, this is how his culinary journey had begun — as his mother’s helper. Together, they used the mixer for everything possible — from dosa batter to fruit juice, chickpea flour (besan) and cake batter. Today, he pampers his parents with restaurant-style dishes.

Other specialised appliances like the chopper, hand blender, juicer and food processor are available in the market now, but, inspired by his mother, he loves using the humble mixie the most, which he thinks can be wonderfully purposed to meet almost every culinary need. Why waste money on other appliances? Like the scooter that can traverse every narrow street and navigate every traffic situation — the mixie too seems far from a compromise. For his nani and mother, the mixie is a tool of empowerment; for him, it is a gateway to cuisine across India and the world.

(The A-Z Series: This series of short articles explores how familiar objects from everyday life embody concepts and values dear to the urban Indian middle class. It takes a light-hearted and humorous look at how objects shape our wants & desires, lives, and lifestyles, ultimately making us who we are as a people.)

(Hamsini Shivakumar is a Semiotician and founder of Leapfrog Strategy. Khushi Rolania is a senior research analyst at Leapfrog Strategy.)