Happy Birthday Urmil Ben

By Neena Badhwar

Urmil Jilka’s ancestors came from Kathiawar, in Saurashtra, India. Her father went to Africa in the late 1800s when her mum joined him and the couple had all their children born in Tanzania. “It was a two island country, Tanganika ruled by a Sultan and Pemba and Zanzibar which later became Tanzania,” remembers Urmil, “Father worked hard and finally got into clove farming and transport business.”

Urmil, fifth in the family, was born in Pemba, out of the family of eight siblings with three brothers and five sisters. She lost her mother at the age of nine and was married off when she turned 18 in 1957 and moved to Kenya.  The family had to move to England in 1970, being a British subject, Urmil and her young children were able to move as situation in East Africa became difficult.

Having turned 80 in November, Urmil was given a wonderful present in the form of a pleasant surprise when both her daughters from England turned up along with her sister-in-law, who she says proudly is like her daughter. Mother of three, and grandmother to six, Urmil has brought up the children single-handedly. Her daughter described her that ”˜mum is our rock’ and that she is very much a people person, always cooking, sewing, remembers she, “Our home in Wembly was always full of people, laughter, music, games, singing, thanks to Mom. Never ever I have seen her shed tears except in my and my sisters ”˜Bidaai’ when we got married.”

Always smiling, quiet and a most loved senior member in Sri Om Care’s senior group at Pennant Hills Monday group, Urmil Jilka is elegantly dressed in Gujrati Sari, come rain, sun  or shine. At times she will bring her diary along when we all ask her to sing some favourite old film songs or even beautiful bhajans which she has duly written down in pen.

Her son Deepak and daughter-in-law Amita and their daughters Janaki and Tulasi organised a surprise eightieth birthday on December 1 at the Chatswood Golf Club. A birthday that started with the surprise visit from family from London on the Thursday before, little did Urmil know that Sunday would turn out to be a bigger surprise when she was conned into dressing and coming to an engagement party. As she entered, it was more than eighty people who stood up to sing ”˜Happy Birthday’ to this formidable lady who has won hearts wherever in the world she has gone. She met each and everyone with the same love she showers on all, all the time.

Guests loved the afternoon party with old nostalgic songs of her choice, and everyone elses’, as they enjoyed a typical Gujrati banquet, sweets and delicious serve of paan at the end. Urmil herself is a great cook and keeps the family kitchen going with her dishes such as Daal Dhokli, Patra, khandvi, dhokla, her grand daughter Tulasi says she loves Dadi’s ”˜Aloo Sabzi’.

Sri Om Care seniors had their own special treat on Monday with Urmil’s daughters, daughter-in-law and grand daughter also cooking and serving the delicious meal they organised.

We at Sri Om Care really cherish your company and feel blessed with your presence in our group, Urmil Ben. We wish you always the best of health, happiness and being an inspiration to us all. Happy eightieth birthday!

Urmil’s Gujrati Daal Dhokli:

This is a complete meal in itself with daal and rotis cut into pieces and immersed in the hot steaming daal, which most Gujrati households all over the world enjoy, now even people from all over India and the world also relish this wonderful yet a simple dish. Urmil demonstrates the dish patiently and as she cooks she imparts some useful little tricks how she stores ground ginger, coriander in the freezer section cut up as cubes for use later which saves hell of a lot of time for a busy housewife. She is thorough and extremely clean as she spreads paper on which she places the chakla belan to roll the rotis. This way there is much less mess, one has to observe her to learn these little tricks of the trade and keep the kitchen nice and tidy. And above all, she does it all with a smile.

Boil daal (Toor Daal) in a pressure cooker with salt and turmeric. Season it with tomatoes puree with oil frittered with dry chillies, cinnmon sticks and fenugreek seeds. Add some raw peanuts to the seasonign an dlet it simmer before adding it to the daal. At the end add juice from half a lemon, let the daal simmer and garnish it with chopped coriander. Keep it aside.

Dhokli: These are rotis made with flour (around 150gms) and two table spoons of Besan (gram flour), add a spoon of oil, half teaspoon of red chilli powder, some salt and a quarter teaspoon of turmeric powder.

Make a tight dough and roll it into round balls and then rotis and lightly cook them on hot Tawa.

Once cooked cut them into squares (Dhokli) and store them in a plastic bag.

Serve Daal dhokli when ready by heating the daal and adding dhoklis in.

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