In my review of Jhuk Gaya Aasmaan (1968), I have highlighted this fact that my wife, Amita (fondly called Rupa) is an excellent cook. I got married to her on 1st December, 1995 and now after more than two decades of our wedded life, I can safely say that I have yet to come across a cook in this world who cooks better than her.
Our matrimonial alliance took shape through the reference of a cousin of myself who suggested my father-in-law to contact me. I was working in a private sector company then and posted on the plant site where courtesy my slave-driver boss, I used to spend seven days a week in the office only and also worked for late hours (above all, sometimes I had to take the work to my residential quarter also to do it at home). Getting very less leaves from office, it was not possible for me to go to the cities of the girls whose matrimonial alliance with me were proposed by their parents. Hence when my would be father-in-law wrote me to come over to his place (Jodhpur, Rajasthan) and see the ‘girl’, I wrote in return that it’s better if he, alongwith the ‘girl’ could come over to my place. Now I feel that it’s not justice to them because the summer was at its peak in Rajasthan at that time. Anyway.
They came to my place on 28th June, 1995. Due to conveyance problem, they had to travel for the last 4 kilometers of the journey in a truck which was coming from the main road (where the roadways bus had dropped them) to the factory. I saw Amita aka Rupa for the first time outside the gate of that factory only when upon coming to know of their arrival, I came out of my office and took them to my home (that is, the residential quarter allotted to me in the colony).
At my home, only my mother was there. My father did not regularly live with me. He was at our hometown (Sambhar Lake) at that time. It was lunch time and now lunch was to be prepared for the residents of the house as well as for the guests. While I talked to my would be father-in-law, Rupa went into kitchen and started assisting my mother. And in less than one hour, I ate the food cooked by a girl who was supposed to be my wife, before marrying her. That was the first time, I had an experience of her cooking and came to understand that she’s a very good cook. She had cooked regular vegetarian food which my mother had done preparation for. Before having lunch with us, she freshened up and changed her dress. After lunch we had a brief talk also.
The talks for my matrimonial alliance went with some more girls afterwards. However, as it was destined, finally my marriage took place with her only. We got engaged on 06.11.1995 (saw Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge together on that day in the Nasrani cinema of Jodhpur) and after 25 days, our wedding took place in my hometown (Sambhar Lake in the Jaipur district of Rajasthan). Soon after marriage we had our honeymoon trip to the Southern region of India visiting Chennai, Kodaikanal, Ooty, Mysore and finally, Mumbai.
However the most significant component of the bliss of getting married to her was eating the food cooked by her. The dish might be an ordinary day-to-day cooked one but I understood that the magic lay (and still lies) in her hands. She knows very well that which ingredient is to be mixed in which quantum for the dish being prepared. The sweetness of the sweet dishes made by her as well as as the tanginess of the spicy dishes made by her is always optimum, never on the higher or the lower side, giving a complete satisfaction to the eater.
With the passage of time in the wedded life, I came to know that she could prepare a variety of dishes including different soups, shakes, juices, mocktails and likewise beverages. Being fond of trying various recipes, she kept on making newer and newer dishes for me and turned me into a foodie which I was definitely not prior to marrying her. Now Mr. Jitendra Mathur who was lean and slender in his student life, finds it very difficult to control his weight because it’s a Herculean task for him to diet when the food has been cooked by his better half.
She was a non-vegetarian whereas I have always been a vegetarian (I can be called an eggetarian because sometimes I eat farm eggs). Hence non-vegetarian food could not be cooked at home because my mother is also in my category. However on some of the occasions, we had food outside when vegetarian dish was ordered for myself whereas non-vegetarian dish was ordered for herself and we had our lunch or dinner together by consuming the respective dishes. However after around 5 years of wedded life, she quit eating non-vegetarian food altogether and turned into a vegetarian.
I spent almost 13 months at Tarapur Atomic Power Station (at Boisar in district Thane of Maharashtra) and but for the summer vacation and the winter vacation time, I lived alone there because my wife was working as a teacher with Govt. of Rajasthan. During that period, I used to have my lunch at the office canteen whereas the dinner in the guest house of the organization for the first six months. However when my wife lived with me during May-June 2000 (during the summer vacation in her school), she taught me to cook regular daily food for myself which include Daal (pulse), Sabzi (vegetable), Roti and rice. Tea preparation is one thing which I had been knowing since my adolescence. Hence that I did not need to learn. Thereafter I stopped eating outside and ate self-cooked food only (irrespective of its quality).
Now my wife has taken voluntary retirement from her govt. job and we alongwith our two kids and my mother, have been living together only for the past many years. Hence eating the food cooked by my wife is an everyday bliss for me (three times a day – breakfast, lunch and dinner). She is an excellent cook and wishes to open her own restaurant some time in life. I don’t know whether I will be able to do something to fulfill her wish or not but I pray that it is fulfilled.With this write-up, I pay my tribute to Tarla Dalaal, the great Indian cookbook writer and chef who passed away on 06.11.2013. She always stressed that to please her husband, a married woman should know to cook that food well which he likes with the most significant such food being DBRS (Daal, Bhaat, Roti, Sabzi). My wife seems to have grasped the essence of these words of the celebrity chef and cookbook writer. And it’s my fortune to have her as an inseparable part of my life.
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