Rabindranath Tagore, India’s first Nobel Laureate, was a man of many talents. Beyond his renowned literary contributions, Tagore had a passionate interest in food. Surprisingly, he had a solid aversion to chili powder, leading the cooks at Jorasanko Thakur Bari.
The Legacy of Experimentation
Rabindranath Tagore’s father, Maharshi Debendranath Tagore, was a visionary who founded a new religion known as Brahmo Dharma, with roots in the reformist movements of Raja Rammohan Roy and Prince Dwarkanath Tagore. Despite their wealth and royal background, the Tagore family embraced progressive ideas and experimentation, mirroring Debendranath’s saintly and philosophical demeanor.
Influential Pioneers of Their Time
The Tagores played a pivotal role in shaping Bengal’s future during political and social transformation. Remarkably, in a society where women often had limited functions, the women of Jorasanko Thakur Bari enjoyed honor and respect. They were encouraged to explore innovative culinary ideas, with Rabindranath’s wife, Mrinalini Debi, standing out as an expert cook.
A Family of Tradition and Modernization
The Tagores were trendsetters who embraced modernization while upholding their deep-rooted culture. Living in a joint family with 200-300 members under one roof, Thakurbari in Kolkata echoed the joy of togetherness. They exemplified the values of joint family living, giving rise to “Adda” or “Jalsa,” gatherings celebrated in Bengali households.
Sharbat and Tagore: An Unbreakable Bond
Rabindranath Tagore’s innovative spirit extended to the culinary world, and he had a profound affection for “sharbat” (sweet drinks). He even invented a unique recipe called “Daab er Sharbat” (Green Coconut Meat Sharbat), a refreshing concoction that delighted family members and visitors alike. Tagore’s passion for “sharbat” remains legendary to this day.
In conclusion, Rabindranath Tagore’s legacy extends far beyond his poetry, encompassing his unique culinary preferences and the innovative spirit that the Tagore family brought to Bengal’s rich cultural tapestry. Jorasanko Thakur Bari is a testament to their contributions, serving as a treasure trove of culture, tradition, and experimentation.
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