15 Kitchen Utensils That Will Give You Abuela-Status Cooking Skills

Wooden Spoon Belatina Kitchen

Taking those first few steps away from the family home into some sort of adulthood is a painful process. As the keys on our ring multiply, things get complicated: there’s the expense, the responsibilities, the interminable laundry. The cruelest gut-punch of them all may well be having to abandon all that good home cooking: the rice and beans, the tostones, homemade salsa. If you work all day or live on your own or — gasp! — are the one in charge of getting dinner on the table, there is nothing more comforting and nostalgia-satisfying than the smells of home from your own kitchen right now.

Of course, you don’t have all day to simmer stock for the pozole or fold tamales, so make sure you grab a box of stock and pre-ground masa at the store. Below, we’ve got you covered with all the gadgets you will need to make the dishes you crave at home. Some of them are the same the same utensils the abuelas use, while others are updated versions of classic tools that will make your life even easier. No one is suggesting that it is even possible to top your abuela’s ajiaco, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying

1Molcajete

molcajete motar pestle BeLatina

This bowl-and-masher combo with a Nahuatl name is the same shape as a mortar and pestle, like the ones used in Italy to make pesto or in Pakistan and India to grind spices. But while a mortar and pestle may be carved out of marble or metal, the Mexican molcajete is traditionally made from basalt stone, a type of volcanic rock whose porous surface is ideal for grinding things like spices, chilies, salsa and guacamole ingredients. It’s ability to retain heat also makes the molcajete a suitable vehicle for hot stews that go by the same name. Purists agree that there is a better taste to foods prepared in a molcajete as opposed to ones made with a convenience tool like a blender.

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