Thursday, July 25, 2024
Home Blog Page 8

The sweet and sentational Bori Roti

Bori Roti

Food is a part of our tradition and everyday life. Food is not just to sustain living but it also brings us all together. Food, we can keep on talking about it… so let’s do just that! ☺ 

Aera hikra deein budhao jadaa tussaan metthaan nivey khaada. Asaan Bhagnari dha deein metthaan kano sivaa hal nai sagdda. Hindhey wastey asaan heein kam dhi shuruaat metthaan naal keetti hey – Bori Roti

(Tell me of one day when you have not had something sweet to eat. We Bhagnaris need to have something sweet in our everyday life. Hence, we have started this journey with something sweet. – Bori Roti)

Bori has been traditionally eaten as a breakfast dish in the winter months. It was popularly made with left-over rotis but traditional method calls for fresh hot rotis mixed with ghee and sugar or jaggery and then beaten to add texture to the dish. Sounds like therapy to me! 😉 

Eevein lagda hey ke jaen deein murs nal viro, hoon deein kitchen wanjj kaney bori roti thao… (sounds like when you are angry at your husband you vent it out in the kitchen by making Bori roti)

The healthy version of Bori Roti is made with jaggery instead of sugar. Just the purity of such beautiful ingredients brings back memories of aromas in GrandMa’s kitchen. 

So for you all to bring back some aromatic memories in your own kitchen, here is the recipe:


Wheat flour 1.5 cups

Pinch of salt

2 tablespoons oil (or ghee)

3-4 spoons sugar or Gur


Mix wheat flour, pinch of salt and oil and make a dough.

Divide the dough into portions and make into balls. Take each ball and roll it with a rolling pin. It should be thick like a paratha.

Cook it on a tava. Pour little oil while tossing and cook it on a medium flame till small brown patches appear on both the surfaces of the roti.

While the roti is still hot, crush it in a large bowl till coarse mixture is obtained.

Now add sugar or Gur and temper it with a spoon of oil or ghee.

Serve it hot with papad.

Auspicious Kutti

Kutti is synonymous with Satyanarayan katha. The katha is usually performed on a full moon day of every month. In the days gone by, before the katha, the beautiful aromas of pure ghee, flour and sugar would take over the entire neighborhood as the cooking of Kutti begins. Children during the katha, would be seen running around the tree and benches in the colony while others would be patiently waiting in the colony hall. Sometimes it would feel like time has come to a standstill, when we would repeatedly ask our parents/grandparent… Anjja kitla time lagse? (How much longer?). Then the aarti bells would bring out the smiles and it was the end of the katha. It is finally time to get our hands onto the warm yummy goodness of Kutti along with fruit that used to get stuffed into mummy’s purse while the Kutti goes straight into the belly and then we would line up quickly to get the next helping… Kutti koon ker naa karrese? (Who will say no to Kutti)


½ kg – wheat flour

3 cups – sugar

1.25 cup – ghee

How to Make Kutti (Wheat Flour Crumble)

Heat ghee in a heavy bottomed vessel.

Fry the flour on a low flame, stirring continuously till aromatic and golden in color.

Remove from the stove and add sugar.

Let it cool.

The Queen of hearts – Khatti Dal


There is no introduction this dal requires. Yes, i say this because I am a true blood Bhagnari. But for the rest of you – this dal is the aan, baan and shaan of our kitchens. The queen of hearts and all bellies. Please give a round of applause when introducing – KHATTI DAL (now didn’t it bring a smile to your face and did you not just smell that aroma wafting through your nose?)

It’s key ingredient is this pungent and aromatic concoction of spices that are blended together that give this Dal that unique maroon colour and tangy taste. Jeevein chaan aaoon barsaat dha mel theendha hey, uvein khatti dal aaoon mutton/sev ghaathiye/aaloo tuk dha mel theendha hey. (Like tea and rains are a match made in heaven, that way Khatti Dal is best accompanied by mutton/sev ghathiya/aloo tuk)

This Dal is loved so much by the youngsters, that one of the requests every Bhagnari student has to their mommy is to please send a dabbaa of Khatti Dal masala. 

They say there is always a secret reserve saved for a small bowl of Khatti Dal at the end of a Sunday meal. Ohh and did I mention that this Dal tastes even better the next day – few slices of bread, topped with a day old generous portion of Khatti Dal topped with sev ghathiya/mithhi boondi/mota wafers/sanaa pakoda/malpura/kaccha aaloo fry/ kachri papad/ pakwan/mohanthal/omelette/fried fish/lays chips – the list is endless and you have absolutely got to try them all. *now if only we had such a choice while choosing a husband. =)


Khatti Dal Masala


100 gm dhaniya powder
100 gm jeera
100 gm kashmiri mirchi
50 gm hulba
150 gm oil 

Clean all the ingredients and keep them separately. On slow fire fry dhaniya powder. Remove and keep aside. Fry jeera on slow fire. Remove and keep aside. Fry hulba and keep aside. In the end add kashmiri mirchi as they soak up all the oil. Let all ingredients cool down completely. Once they have cooled completely, grind them in a mixture without any water and adding oil if required.
*This masala can be stored for 6 months.

Khatti dal


250 gms tuar dal
1 stick Kadi leaves
Coriander finely chopped
1 Drumstick cut into 3 pieces
15 guvars (with head and tail cut)
2 Brinjals (cut into half length-wise)
1 Potato (cut into half length-wise)
Salt (as per taste)
Tamarind (soaked in water as per taste)


Pressure cook the tuar dal with 2 cups of water for 3 whistles.
Open cooker and blend dal and water well.
Add 2 table-spoons of khati dal masala.
Blend it well.
Add vegetables, water, salt, Kadi leaves and chopped coriander and cook till vegetables are cooked.
In the end add tamarind water.
Add water as per requirement.
Boil well.
Serve hot with above mentioned accompaniments.

Nikhil Nasta

Dr. Nikhil Nasta, a reputed ophthalmologist, runs multi-specialty eyecare hospitals by the name ‘Isight Eyecare & Surgery’ in Mumbai, one located in Dadar and the other in Khar.

As with many Bhagnari’s, Nikhil comes from a business family and so does his entrepreneurial spirit. His father, Vishnu Nasta worked really hard and travelled a lot when he was a kid. Nikhil in fact worked at his father’s company for a year but soon realized his true calling lied elsewhere. So, he then enrolled in a medical degree and that’s when things started to take off for Nikhil. He finished his MBBS with top honors and the rest was sort of destined to be. He bagged a seat in ophthalmology, and cleared that with a good metal too. He then completed his DNB and his FRCS Glasgow. After completing a short term fellowship at Madurai, he started off as a professor. His Nana, Hargobind Gehani, was a well-known professor, and so that’s the Gehani gene that emerged there.

After gaining good surgical expertise working in a medical college and charitable hospital, Nikhil realized the need for quality eyecare at an affordable cost. He felt that the time was finally right to start out on his own and thus Isight eyecare and surgery was born in 2010. ‘Eyecare is a basic need and many couldn’t afford it due to the high cost involved in a good surgery. I decided to provide a multi-specialty eyecare service at a competitive price point to help fill this void’. His business model is based on high volume at low cost rather than low volume at high cost. It’s a standardized system that’s also a scalable model.

Within a span of four years, a second center was launched in Dadar and two years later, a new laser center was established at Ville Parle too. Isight eyecare has made a huge difference by offering the best eyecare services at affordable cost. It has bagged the Times of India Healthcare survey award twice in a row, standing fourth and then second place in Mumbai western suburbs. 

Nikhil has inspiring words to say to our Bhagnari youth – ‘Bhagnari youth have a lot of potential to make it big. We have the brains of businessmen, we are dedicated and hard working. We understand the importance of earning money and have a clear conscience that keeps us on the right track. We are very ambitious, very driven and want to lead the good life. This makes us work doubly hard as we are indeed high maintenance kids. Having received the right guidance from our seniors and elders and a lot of support from our Bhagnari peers, we have an added confidence that others lack. There are lots of young Bhagnari’s who have made a mark for themselves and that makes me feel really proud’.

iSight eyecare and surgery 402 sapphire SV Road khar west Mumbai 400052

iSight eyecare and surgery 102 earth galaxy Ambedkar road Dadar East Mumbai 400014


Badi Mummy

Smt Lachmi Mehta

I was instructed to call her “Badi Mummy”—I was told this directly translated to “Big Mom”—a concept I understood solely in English as “Grandmother.”

I met Badi Mummy, my paternal grandmother, for the first memorable time when I was five. I had heard that she was really nice but I remember her being mostly mean, at least from my first impression of her. Of course, I could not understand a single word she spoke, so whether there was kindness in the meaning of words was negligible to me because somehow I managed to hear only frustration in her tone.

Neither could Badi Mummy understand me. Being raised in an English-only household for most (if not all) of my life has created a disconnect between me and what this entire blog initiative represents. This disconnect needs to be mitigated. My parents—both (proudly) Bhagnari—used Hindi and Bhagnari while I was growing up for one of two purposes: when they didn’t want me to know what they were saying, or, on long distance phone calls home to their birthplace.

Meeting Badi Mummy felt abrupt mostly because it was. A new person, a new language, a new culture, a new city, a new country, a new face, a new place. Everything new, everything unfamiliar. At the age of five, suddenly being told the unfamiliar person in front of you is your grandmother—and then not being able to communicate with her—is a fact of my past that has always felt unsettling and guilt-inducing.

Everyone is supposed to like their grandmother. How could I like my grandmother if I couldn’t even understand her? They say love is a universal language but what does that actually mean to a confused, wide-eyed five year old?

Most of my stories of my Bhagnari identity, in actuality, are stories of my not being Bhagnari (enough) and are therefore stories of my attempts to approximate myself to an unknown. An unknown that I am somehow supposed to naturally relate to because it runs through my veins.

Today what runs through my veins is endangered and thus, my contributions to this blog are equally in the hopes of preserving our community’s collective memories as much as in the hopes of preserving bits and pieces of myself.

The first time I came to India was when I was conceived, of which I have no recollection.

The second time I came to India, I also have no recollection of. I was one or two and I had come because my maternal grandmother had passed away and my family needed to pay a visit. I never acquired a term to regard my maternal grandmother because I unfortunately never needed language for that purpose. She died before I could speak, before I could meet her, before I could speak to her, before I possessed a concrete identity—more facts of my past that have always felt unsettling but less guilt-inducing.

The third time I came to India was when I was five and I remember a few things. But not everything. This prose comprises a (funny) story of Badi Mummy and I getting lost in translation:

I had walked with my dad from Kataria Colony in the morning to a place called Govind Nivas which was apparently where my dad had grown up. He dropped me off at Govind Nivas and I found myself in a room within an unknown place—apparently referred to as a flat—suddenly under Badi Mummy’s sole care. I remember some of the interactions that transpired but only vaguely. She didn’t seem to smile much and everything she said confused me, in a frightening way because she clearly wanted me to understand what she was saying. But I just couldn’t. I couldn’t fulfill my grandmother’s desire. Her language confused me. Not knowing what she was saying made me fearful. I felt trapped. I felt alone.

Nobody was there to translate so I kept listening to her to no avail. Suddenly, I heard a familiar word that every child would naturally get excited about. My eyes lit up. “Tum cookie chaiye?” I had no idea what “tum and “chaiye” meant but my recognition of the word “cookie“ (spoken through an accent) inspired a smile to spread across my face. I don’t remember if I also produced the word “yes” or maybe even “haan” but Badi Mummy vanished into the kitchen. I happily awaited the arrival of Oreos or Chips Ahoys.

After a few minutes, Badi Mummy emerged with something that looked nothing like any cookie I had ever known. It was flat, really big, warm, and tasted salty. Yuck. I had wondered why she had brought me a tortilla and I moved the steel plate to the side and said a universally-understood “no.” Badi Mummy made a sincere frown and pressed her hand against the air in my direction—a universally-understood gesture to wait. She turned on the TV and disappeared into the kitchen again.

I sat there watching Tom and Jerry and this time, she emerged after ten minutes with a proud smile on her face and presented me with the exact same tortilla, except this time, it was not warm but hot. I started to cry and around this time my dad came back. He seemed concerned and asked me why I was crying.

“Badi Mummy promised me cookies and she keeps bringing me these instead.” My dad, the translator, started to laugh and said something quickly to Badi Mummy who also started to laugh. Them laughing, me crying, and these strange, flat cookies occupied the room—this flat called Govind Nivas.

“Sahil, these are called ‘khoki,’” my dad explained, “I used to eat these for breakfast.” He looked at my face and continued, “But we can get you cookies. in India we call them ‘biscuits.’”

Badi Mummy got up and brought from the kitchen a slew of biscuits.

In this trip, I learned what khoki was (something which I wouldn’t like until becoming older). I learned about Parle-G, Marie, Hide and Seek, Bourbon and Nice biscuits…cookies that I would rarely encounter when back in the US. In this trip, I learned the translanguaging of love, from my grandmother to her grandchild. It’s an experience I’ve been processing and reprocessing even after Badi Mummy’s death.

I was nearly a teenager and my family was in our home in San José, California. We were watching a Bollywood movie in our living room that rainy night. (I was reading the subtitles throughout.) My sister and I were seated on the carpet and each parent on one couch. It was late at night, yet the phone rang. My dad paused the movie and left to answer it. His tone was sober and the call seemed short. He returned and said something in Hindi (or Bhagnari?) to my mom. She acknowledged what he said and he promptly pressed play and then my sister leaned towards me and out of nowhere whispered, “I think Badi Mummy died.” I’ve never understood what force of intuition existed for my sister to perceive this. Maybe she had understood their interaction.

I glanced at my dad’s face as I thought about how Dada, his dad, had passed just the year prior. It all felt so recent, but also so distant. I analyzed my dad’s face and he looked like someone who was sitting in a very warm room. His skin looked moist and red and his eyes looked somewhat in-between dry and moist.

“Dad?” He paused the film. My tactless pre-teen self blurted out, “Did Badi Mummy die?” I asked, echoing my sister’s words, now to my dad, in the form of a question. As if it were my question to own. As if it were his question to field. I remember him nodding stoically and returning to press play.

I can’t remember what film we were watching. I don’t know if he can either. But every time I eat khoki today, since it is something I enjoy more than I should (considering I don’t yet know how to make it) I remember to honor Badi Mummy who whipped up a fresh batch just for me. She’s not someone I knew well and quite honestly, not someone I ever grew to like (a guilt that will die with me) but I come from her and she loved me the way she could best.

History Around Partition

Shri Takandas Kataria

The story of our migration has been traced down from panchayat reports dated between 1948 and 1955. Our forefathers  were natives of Bhag and Nari of Kalat province, Baluchistan. For economic and religious reasons, they migrated during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  This was their first migration, they dispersed – north to Punjab, east to Jacobabad and Sukkur, south to Karachi and Hyderabad Sind. Our ancestors were firm believers of Dharam and Freedom these became the cause of early migrations. Early migrants had to face numerous hardships due to lack of modern transportation. They then came to be known as ‘Kutchiwals’, a lingo that has continued for the residents of those places to date.

Dr Bashumal Gehi

Those that stayed at Jacobabad kept up their entity and those that stayed at Shikarpur, Sukkur and Punjab merged into local population. Those that came to Hyderabad Sind and Karachi called themselves “Bhagis” as they were mostly from ‘Bhag’. Some that came from ‘Nari’ called themselves ‘Nariwais’. Ultimately, both joined and called themselves ‘Bhagnaris’.

Shri Bhojraj Kewalram

All those who stayed in Hyderabad gradually moved to Karachi leaving none behind. In Karachi the clan was spread over Pamoo Dalai Street, Soldier Bazar, Camp Karachi and Dhobi Ghat. Gradually they all shifted to Pamoo Dalai Street, Napier Quarter which later came to be known as Bhagnari Street. The population gradually spread to Chainamal Street and Mohmed Shah Street.

Shri Uttamchand Mehta

Our ancestors worked very hard to establish themselves. Starting from petty businesses they rose to become big businessmen and contractors. There were 4 Justices of Peace and more than eight gun and revolver license holders in the community. The language which we speak at our homes is called ‘Bhagnari’. This language is also spoken with very slight change in several parts of upper Sind and is known as ” Siraykee “. It is also spoken in Bhawalpur, Multan, Dhera Gazi Khan, Dhera Esmail Khan, parts of Baluchistan and Kandhar. It is known in some places as ‘Multani’ or ‘Dherayee’ language.

Shri Nanoomal Jham

In 1947, when our community was well established and most of our people were happy and contented, we were hit by the unfortunate partition of Mother India. This time the migration was swift and en masse. In January 1948, dazed, utterly shaken and uprooted, we marched on to our new destination leaving behind us, our ancestral pro­perty, our homes, businesses, Mandirs, schools, everything.

Shri Harkishandas Gehani

As all Hindus wanted to migrate at the same time, passage became difficult. People were getting butchered in the trains and air passage was limited. The only route left was sea. Obtaining tickets for this route was an expensive affair. The Panchayat organized help and distributed tickets to batches, helped some with money and ultimately succeeded in complete migration leaving only 3 to 4 souls out of a population of 2,000. It was a critical time when each one   thought of himself. There had been 2 deaths of our members having been murdered in cold blood (Seth Seth Newandram Issardas and Janglimal Gulumal). On 8th January looting had begun in our area, Pamoo Dalai Street, but by good luck and tactful handling by some of the Panchayat Office-bearers it was curbed in time.

Shri Motumal Nasta

At Karachi, we had built up Panchayat properties such as Hall, Bathing Ghat, Shiva Temple, Gum Nanak Darbar, Laxmi Narayan Temple and ‘Kanyashala’. We were able to dispose off through untiring efforts of our President all but only one Panchayat building used for our ‘Kanyashala’. It will not be out of place to mention that Shri S. T. Gehl helped the then President to his best of ability to execute this task. With a last sad look towards Sindhu Desh and particularly Karachi—we began our journey halting at places like Baroda, Rajkot, Naysari, Anand, Surat, Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Delhi, Allahbad, Poona and Jodhpur but most of us turned towards Bombay. It appeared as those we were making Bombay our permanent home, Bhagnaris from all other settlements had started flocking to Bombay.

Shri Vishindas Katejra

As far as the Panchayat was able to ascertain, about 2,000 bhagnaris reached Bombay, 2 members of the community had gone missing in transit. No trace of them was found. Some Bhagnaris had put up outside Bombay. About 6 families had rooted themselves in Rajkot. While some settled in Kurla, some in Chembur, Matunga and Kalyan Camps. Post the early days of the partition death rates were heavy. This was attributed to various reasons such as: mal-nutrition due to poverty, unemployment, fear and worry and camp life and altered unsuitable conditions leading to nervous breakdowns.

While settling down at Bombay-in the early days-we thought our day of Deliverance had come. But our hopes and aspiration and dreams were shattered to bits. Instead of sympathy, tolerance and warmth, we were met with cold stares, heavy prejudice and even hatred. Surrounded by difference of language, customs, tradition, local culture, manners, behaviour and socio-moral and economic environments, we had to pay heavy and unbearable price for rehabilitation in the form of Pugree, goodwill-rent-allotments, ejections and etc. Let us not unfold this sorry chapter. The community is forever greatful to Late Shri T. H. Kataria (may his soul rest in peace) and others who saved many of us from ejectments. Relief was organized in money and material to those in need.  

As the bulk of Bhagnaris settled up at Mahim, Bombay, the tradition of our Panchayat life began to revive. In the beginning of 1948, Panchayat system was inaugurated and after holding several unofficial meetings, the first large representative gathering was held on 24th April, 1948. Education for the youth started to come back on track, they settled into matrimony and the population steadily grew. There was an increasing number of male students completing their secondary education and a growing eagerness for higher education amongst the females. The ‘Panchs’ of the Community played a crucial role in organising events and funds to keep people together.

In the years that came, God was kind and from a mere 2,000 that came from Karachi, we are as the world sees us today, a multifacted family spreading it roots globally. We stand tall, proud of our traditions (and of course KHATTI DAL), always ready to lend a shoulder to one another! Asaan Bhangari!