Subbamma Angadi is 70 and fresh as ever

Bengaluru’s literati of the fifties, for whom Gandhi Bazaar in south Bengaluru was a place of inspiration, always made a pit stop at Srinivasa Condiment Stores to munch on hurigaalu (a spicy variety-bean fry).

The crispy eat made by Subbamma, the proprietor of the shop, was a big hit as were her chutney pudi, papads, and pickles sold there.

The store — better known simply as Subbamma Angadi — has now turned 70, having opened its doors to the public in April 1947.

The recipes of the late Subbamma still survive and delight old Bengalurians.

Today her grandsons, K.V. Anantha Rao and K.V. Ramachandra, sell at least 12-kg each of her three signature products — chutney pudi, hurigaalu, and Congress kadlekai — every day. Subbamma turned a cuisine that was seen only in south Bengaluru homes into an entrepreneurial venture that proved a success at a time when women entrepreneurs were too few.

The story of Subbamma, who landed in Bengaluru from Kallur in Hindupur after her husband’s death in the 1930s, in an inspiring one. A mother of three children, she was a feisty woman who had settled down in an out-house at Basavanagudi. At a time when women entrepreneurs were rare, she decided to cash in on her talent — cooking — to earn money and raise her children.

“Those were the days when widows feared social restrictions ... but Subbamma was unstoppable, in that she went door-to-door selling her masala condiments,” Mr. Anantha said.

Advocate Lakshmi Narasu later offered her this present space at the Harikathe Bhajana Samaja building for a monthly rent of ₹5. “This was the turning point for my grandmother who could store and sell her products,” Mr. Ramachandra, who sells 200 food items from the tiny space, said.

Mr. Ramachandra and Mr. Anantha remember the days when as six and eight-year-olds they sautéed pulses in a large pan kept on a charcoal fire and hand pounded the powders at home with Subbamma’s eye being the only measure. “Even today we follow her recipes,” Mr. Ramachandra added.

Subbamma’s clientèle included the who’s who of Karnataka, including Diwan M.N. Krishna Rao. “I distinctly remember Subbamma helping my grandmother and chatting with her in the kitchen,” M.R. Narendra, grandson of Krishna Rao, said. He adds that literary giants like Masti Venkatesha Iyengar, D.V. Gundappa, and G.P. Rajarathnam have enjoyed her speciality hurigaalu.

Today, Subbamma’s legacy of entrepreneurship against all odds lingers in her spices.

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Printable version | Oct 29, 2020 12:34:37 PM |

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