Organic Farming & Reinvention ~ Deepak Jatkar from Jath

by on November 5, 2015

There are some who believe in re-inventing themselves whatever the stage of life. Commerce graduate-turned-farmer in his retirement period, Deepak Jatkar (61) is one of them. Attending to the organic farm in his hometown Jath, he has taken his passion for organic farming and cooking to another level. He proudly shares the recipe of Wheat Kheer from the wheat growing in his own farm. A great believer in family values, he also affirms that encouragement and mutual support are the ingredients of happiness in life.


Namaste Deepakji. To begin with, tell me about your childhood.
I was born in Jath, a small town on the borderline of Maharashtra and Karnataka. My father was in the transport business, so we moved home several times within the Maharashtra region. In 1985, I moved to Thane in Mumbai. Now, we have settled in Jath, though Mumbai is a second home since my son lives in Mumbai with his family.


Your education and work?
I graduated in commerce and then joined a transport company. I am now retired and spend most of my time doing organic farming at our organic farm in Jath.


How did you develop interest in cooking?
When our children were young, they would ask for something different to eat now and then. I would rustle up something for them. Based on their responses and comments, I began to improvise. I also watched television cookery shows and tried some dishes.


What are some of your favourite dishes.
I think I first started with Pav Bhaji which is an absolute favourite. I also love Shrikhand; especially Mango Shrikhand and Dry Fruit Shrikhand.


Organic farming Interview

How did your wife respond to your culinary experiments?
My wife, Jyothi has always been supportive in whatever I do. Right now, we are both totally absorbed in organic farming.


Yes, I have heard much about your passion for organic farming from your wife’s cousin, Aruna.
In our taluk, many people are into farming. But the problem is water shortage. So the crop is mainly dependent on rain water. Some are using water from borewell and canal. Water shortage makes farming very difficult for poor farmers. For me, the challenge is organic farming with less water.


What do you grow in your farm?
We mainly grow grains such as jowar, chana, wheat and also sunflower seeds. We also grow kardai. I have been farming for 3-4 years now.


Do you cook only with organic products? How is the pricing?
We try and buy our provisions from wholesale vendors and therefore, the variation in price is very slight. But it is definitely a much healthier option.


According to you, what is the key ingredient of success?
Support and appreciation from your loved ones. I have been able to follow my dreams because I have my wife’s support. The children are also encouraging. In fact, you cannot do anything without the right support. Appreciation is important to grow in life.


Jyothiji, would you like to add your view here?
She: Even though he is giving me the credit, he has been equally nurturing. He has taken good care of all of us. I believe that when a couple live happily and the children can see the affection between the parents, they will grow up believing in relationships and will adapt easily. We are blessed to have children as caring as ours. My daughter-in-law is also very caring and always abides by our family values.


That sounds like an ideal reached in real life.
She: You may think that we are praising each other, but I am happy to share with you that we are considered as an ideal couple by the rest of the family.


I have already asked him, but I want you to tell me how it was working alongside your husband in the kitchen.
She: He has always been helpful around the house. When I cooked, he would pitch in by chopping the vegetables. He is very adjusting. He even helps my daughter-in-law when she is in the kitchen. He chops vegetables very skillfully. We were a small family – the two of us, our children and my mother-in-law. Hence we had a lot of freedom. We never forced the children to eat what we wanted to cook. We cooked what they wanted to eat. I must tell you that we have one simple rule between us – we always have our two meals together.


What is your typical meal comprised of?
He: We cook typical Maharashtrian food at home. But since Jyothi is from a Telugu family, she has introduced us to Andhra dishes such as Pesarattu and Dosa varieties. I remember when she was newly married, she did not enjoy our Maharashtrian meals, but ate it silently without making a fuss. Now, we have come to enjoy more varieties and other cuisines. In fact, over time, cooking and serving good food has become a way of life.


And healthy food too.
Oh yes, good health is important. I am a diabetic but I love sweets. So I use brown sugar or jaggery instead of processed sugar. I also do morning walks without fail. During a recent trip to Rajasthan, we walked extensively. When I returned and went to the doctor, my sugar level was much more stable. The doctor advised me to resume my walking. He asked me to give up sweets, but I am using sugar substitutes so that I don’t have to deny myself.


Do you also cook Andhra dishes?
My specialty is Maharashtrian dishes but I have learnt to make dosas and vadai from my wife. She actually learnt cooking after she was married. As you know, in our community, the focus is on education. So girls do not do much housework as in other Indian communities.


What recipe would you like to share today?
“Gehun ki kheer” which means wheat kheer is a sweet dish. We make this from the organic wheat grown in our field. This is known as khapli wheat and is different from regular wheat. It is lighter than regular wheat and high in protein.


Thank you. That sounds healthy and must be delicious.


Photo Courtesy: Harmony Magazine


First published in November 2015 in Harmony – the Indian magazine for silvers for the column – ‘His Ladle Love’. A series about men who experience the joy of cooking and can weild a deft ladle in the kitchen. Part-2 of this post is the recipe of Organic Wheat Kheer, a healthy and organic recipe shared by Deepak Jatkar.


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