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santha, sanghati and full santhosham – 2

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I don’t think we had much energy left last night. Our bums, or atleast my set, were so battered and bruised after riding on the back of the tractor that the only way to avoid further pain was to fall into the deep sleep of oblivion!! Even the mosquito dragons could not wake me.

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But today I was determined to be up at the rooster’s call and that’s exactly what I did. (Country chicken is delicious by the way… I hope I didn’t eat one of his family members last night). With sleep still on my mind I made my way to the old smokey wood fire kitchen to watch Krishnamma make sanghati. In the old days sanghati was what kept the farm hands going all day and I assure you it’s as tasty and nutritious today as it was then.

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Krishnamma and me do not have a common language but there is nothing food and the love of food can’t overcome! So bear with me if some of my explanations aren’t 100% accurate, some words may have been gobbled up in translation.

She gathers small dry twigs for kindling and starts the fire so quickly I could swear it was magic. An old blackened pot bubbles away on the wood burning stove while she adds fuel to the fire and mixes up another pot of broken, pre soaked white rice. This forms the base of the sanghati. In the village nothing is wasted. Groundnut shells are added to the fire to keep it going, and once the water is boiling, she adds the rice to it.

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Follow me, she says, and I do. In the few minutes it takes to bring the rice to a boil Krishnamma races over to the other side of the house to hand churn butter!!

By now I am totally blown away. Not just by her skill and efficiency, but also by her quiet dignity. She has worked with this family for several years and it is as if everyone in the village knows their place in the grand scheme of things. It is as if all the instruments in an orchestra know their own worth but play in harmony otherwise it would only result in cacophony.

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Stop daydreaming now. Quickly quickly let’s race back to the boiling pot of rice! Krishnamma pours out the excess water and adds a few heaped spoons of Ragi powder in to the pot. She gives it a good old mix with a gorgeously smooth wooden implement and chases me out of the kitchen. I think it’s because the mixture has to cool before she can roll it in to large mounds that you can eat with rivers of ghee and sukha mutton fry… Atleast I hope that’s the reason and it’s not because she’s fed up of me taking photos!

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So thank you dearest Pedamma for showing us around your little piece of paradise. I admire your strength and grace. I admire the courage with which you work the land and the dignity with which you run your home. When you need someone to help you clear out that old kitchen with its smokey burnt pans and patinaed pickle jars you know who to call. Dee x

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PS: ‘santhosham’ means a deep sense of happy satisfaction. I think!

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