The meal for one and all

Updated: Nov 17, 2019, 07:59 IST | Anju Maskeri | Mumbai

Even as rampant redevelopment and Metro work transform the neighbourhood in front of his eyes, a former mill employee who runs a shack in Thakurdwar, says he'll survive because homemade food never goes out of fashion

Jayant Jategaonkar and wife Rekha started Nandayi Uphaar 18 years ago
Jayant Jategaonkar and wife Rekha started Nandayi Uphaar 18 years ago

Till 2001, Jayant Jategaonkar, 73, worked as a purchase manager at a printing mill in Lower Parel. "All through my working years, I'd face trouble with my gut," remembers the Girgaum resident. The heartburn was the result of the food available at the canteen. "The rice had too much soda, the vegetables were half-cooked and the gravies were loaded with garam masala," he says. It was then that he decided he'd open an eatery that serves wholesome meals once he retired. "I hadn't the faintest idea how I would do it, but I knew I would."

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Jayant and Rekha Jategaonkar with son Kedar, Customers enjoy

Jategaonkar kept his promise to himself.

FoodCustomers enjoy a homemade lunch at Nandayi Uphaar

Nandayi Uphar is a bite-sized community eating centre located inside Bhimraowadi, Thakurdwar. The rented gala is hidden from the main road due to the ongoing Mumbai Metro construction and does not feature on Google maps either. Unless you know what you are looking for, it's hard to find. "But, once you eat my meal, you'll never forget the way here," laughs Jategaonkar. That he has time to sit and chat means we've caught him at the right hour. It's almost noon and lunch is being prepared. While wife Rekha and son Kedar helm the kitchen, Jategaonkar looks after the guests. Together, they make an effective team. "We have hired two staffers to help with the deliveries, all within a 3 km radius," says Kedar.

Methi, rava, moong and besan laddoos on offerMethi, rava, moong and besan laddoos on offer

The day's menu features onion and soyabean bhaji, masaledar batata, dal with bottle gourd, rice bhakri and sol kadi (veg thali for Rs 90). They have also resumed serving non-vegetarian thali (chicken and kaleji; Rs 150 onward) after two months of shraavan and pitru paksh. "We started offering chicken on public demand two years ago," says Kedar. Apart from meals, they also hawk homemade rava and besan laddoos, puran poli, malpua and chakli. Interestingly, a notice pasted at the entrance reads: "After five years, we have been compelled to increase the price of our meals in the wake of inflation." It then goes on to list the items and their corresponding prices. "This isn't a typical hotel," says Jategaonkar. "In fact, we often ask customers what they would like to eat for lunch the next day and decide the menu accordingly." Considering he's the first in the family to make a foray into hospitality, Jategaonkar had to learn the ropes. He would make the rounds of smaller eateries, chat up with the owners and, with their permission, study the kitchen operations. "Some were willing to share their experiences, others weren't. I spent six months jotting down my observations." He perfected the recipes with Rekha's help. Sometimes, guests would offer their two cents. Most diners hail from the Maharashtrian and Gujarati dominated neighbourhood, but the place also sees visitors from Nashik and Dhule. "We have never advertised, because word of mouth is the best publicity," he says. The shop is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner from Monday to Saturday. "People ask us to serve on Sundays too, but everyone needs a day off, don't they?"

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