My great-aunt Kittadoddamma as she was called, (krishnaveni is her christened name) was the wife of great Uncle Param-ajja the family patriarch and my favourite ancestor on my mother’s side.
When my uncle married an American, Kittadoddamma decided, that it was her responsibility to see that the foreign daughter-in-law was comfortable in the rural, no-electricity, no running water no gas vegetarian environment. I am talking of maybe 40 years ago, no a little more recent 35yrs ago.
As her serfdom was the kitchen she decided to cook whatever close to what she thought “Yellin” (that was Kittadoddamma version of Ellen ) ate. She was a worldly-wise woman, who had heard from her friend Ratnamma, who was friends with the Anglo-indian”Aaleesaamma” (Alice to you and me) that ‘phoren-mandi’ (foreigners) started their meal with “shoef”
Kittadoddamma prepared her version of shoef, which stayed with me, and has comforted me, through many damp rainy nights. When I am lonely I make this broth and imagine Kittadoddamma telling me
“Yella, ondukshana ittu, innondukshana illa.” That roughly translates to everything is momentary.
Now to whip up the broth:
1 carrot (doddamma used red pumpkin as carrots were a luxury)
½ cup coconut scraping.
5 cloves of garlic
Bunch of coriander leaves
Salt to taste
The onions and garlic are sautéed in cooking oil, till they turned brown. Then all the other ingredients are added and fried for about a minute. This then ground to a paste.
The grinding had to be done on a grinding stone as those were the days that Melmutta our family house knew no mixers or blenders!
Depending on the number of people to be served water would be added, and the broth brought to a boil.
It would be served in steel, coffee cups with dollops of butter and pepper.
Kitta doddamma would really go all out for aunty Ellen and have bread brought into the house which she would toast to be served along with the soup.