JATAR ANNAPOORNAS

By Dr Rama Kulkarni

Around 2015, Nita and I had talked of putting together some Jatar family recipes for the blog. I thought I would get the ball rolling by contributing some from my archives along with a few associated memories. It is a special feeling to be able to share some vintage recipes, some over a hundred years old now.

I grew up in a family where good cooking was relished and appreciated. My mother, Neelima Raddi, and grandmother (Indira Bhajekar née Jatar) were busy women with careers outside the home, but also seemingly blessed with magic powers by the goddess of food, Annapoorna. They could transform the simplest of ingredients into a delectable meal in minutes.

recipes
Indira Bhajekar’s notes

When I was in college I decided to write down some family recipes, starting by asking my beloved grandmother. We had a grand old time laughing together as she dictated them, especially at the sometimes baffling instructions for amounts of ingredients, which had me pestering her for specifics. Like all seasoned cooks (couldn’t resist that one!), she rarely needed to measure anything and everything was by “andaaz” or approximation born of experience. I would sternly tell her that “a bit“ and “a little” and “plenty” were not exactly going to be helpful directions to a novice. One recipe included cinnamon sticks. How much? As much as you can afford – came her quick, mischievous reply.

Whenever I visited her home, I loved looking through the collections of old photos and letters. Exploring an ancient cabinet, I came across one of her notebooks filled with handwritten recipes Continue reading “JATAR ANNAPOORNAS”

Rama Jatar nee Khandekar (Ramabai Dudai)

This is a photograph of Ramabai Dudai as a young girl of ten or so. She was married to the second son of Shriram Jatar, Ranganath Jatar (Balasaheb). Her maiden name was Maijiji Khandekar and she was the daughter of Ganpat Gopal Khandekar, a Jahagirdar from Ujjain.

Here she is as a young girl. All decked up in wedding finery! Those days girls got married early and the jewellery she wears is of the Jatar household. Rama Kaki passed away at the ripe old age of 96 in 1982. She had one daughter, Smt. Kumudini Borgoankar nee Jatar, who later married Shankarao Borgaonkar.

ramakaki

As a young woman, she was beautiful with long thick flowing hair. Sadly, she became a widow at a young age. After her husband’s death, she stayed with the Jatar family, with Bapurao, her brother-in-law and his family. She also stayed for several months with other family members, like with Bal Jatar, at Neel Sadan in Bhausaheb’s family home and also in various different places. Later,  she went to live with her daughter, Kumud.

She was said to be obsessed with cleanliness and combed her hair only with newspapers around her so as to not let even one hair soil the floor. She used to wash her hands frequently. Here is what other people in the family have said about her.

Madhavi Date (nee Jatar, the grand-daughter of Bhausaheb) says:

She looks so mature. Look at her ornaments. So those in her ears. And the variety of necklaces and nath (nose ornament). How could she have carried them. Her sari is beautiful. She is wearing it so differently. I can’t see the padar. A typical Brahmin girl of the late 19th and early 20th century.

Rama kaki used to stay with us at Neelsadan (Bhausaheb’s house in Sadashiv Peth). I was very small then.  Later on I met her in Nagpur. She was staying with her brother. She was a well read person. She used to read Times of India every day. After reading the paper Bhausaheb used send it to her to read. When Nilutai went  to Canada ( Vancouver ). She knew that it was a port. My mother has told me this.

It is amazing isn’t it, to see the expression on Rama Kaki’s face when she was little! How many little girls would have an expression like that? So much in control, so poised!

This is what Uday Dudhbhate says about his great-grandmother:

We called her Ramabai Dudai. She was my great grandmother. She was finicky and I hope it’s the correct word about having regular baths and wearing clean clothes. She was very fair also. In those days after floods in Pune there used to be a water shortage in pune peth area while in lokmanyanagar govt. colony there was regular supply of water. Hence Dudai had gifted my mother  a pipaal (metal) tank to store water for the weekly headbath. She used come once a week to have the headbath.

Anjani Mangalmurti (granddaughter of Abasaheb, the younger son of Shriram Bhikaji Jatar), says:

When I was born, Ramakaki had come to help my mother. My mother told me that she used to rinse her choli 40 times every day! I am also a cleanliness freak and mother always told me that I got the vibes from her!

Ramabai Dudai was not only a young bride, she was a young widow too. Balasaheb Jatar, her husband, died at a young age. He was just 39. However, she and her daughter Kumud were looked after very well by the Jatar family.

(Written and collated by Nita Jatar Kulkarni)