Before humans had fire or sharpened flint, the mortar and pestle was our first tool for preparing food. Variations of a stone vessel for breaking down and grinding food date back almost 40,000 years ago but the mortar and pestle also shows up in the oldest book known to humanity, the Indian Veda. Written in Sanskrit over 3,000 years ago, the Atharva Veda outlines using this tool for the spiritual, to ward off both demons and diseases. Then we can trace the mortar and pestle's history through writings in early China, Egypt, and the Bible. Archeology shows how it was used for everyday cooking and religious ceremony by the Aztecs, the Romans, and the Native Americans. Examples around the world brings us to food cultures of today and the KROK.
So what is KROK?
Literally: the sound of the pestle pounding into the mortar. This onomatopoeic word serves as the Thai name for the mortar. Visiting Thailand, you cannot go far without hearing the “krok” of a pestle and mortar making delicious chili and curry pastes or spicy papaya salads. But the mortar and pestle is more ancient and more widespread than just Thailand and the KROK is ready to bring all of these traditions and cuisines directly into your kitchen.
A small fisherman village in the Chonburi province of Thailand is the epicenter of granite carving. Walking around Ang Sila and its 100 year old market, every shop and stand has granite-carved animals, Hindu deities, images of the Buddha, and mortars and pestles. With generations of experience and Ang Sila’s importance to every Thai household, this was the only and obvious location for the handcrafted manufacturing of each KROK we produce.
Huk, Craftsmaster in Ang Sila for nearly 40 years
A Fading Tradition
With an influx of cheap, machine-made mortars and pestles from low-quality materials, the market has been saturated with low-cost options leading to questionable results. This, combined with the young men and women of Ang Sila heading to Bangkok and other major cities, has led to the traditional method of carving mortars and pestles fading out of use. Together with KROK, independent craftsmasters continue the preservation and prosperity of this beautiful craft and important tradition.
KROK is on a mission to reintroduce the mortar and pestle, the most ancient cooking utensil, into today’s kitchen. We are preserving the artisanal craft tradition in Thailand, working with the remaining craftsmasters that continue to carve this tool by hand, and inspiring home cooks around the world to use the mortar and pestle for everyday cooking.