Journey Of An Iconic Indian Sweet – Dharwad Pedha

26
Indian sweet Dharwad Pedha
Dharwad Pedha close-up

After its legendary musicians, Dharwad is best known for its Dharwad Pedha. I remember when I first tasted it in Bangalore about 10-12 years ago. My first reaction was – this is Mathura Pedha. I probably invoked the Kannada pride in my friends, and they all claimed that this is pure Dharwad pedha, you get it nowhere but in Dharwad. My gut feeling very strongly said – there is a connection between this pedha and the famous Mathura Pedha. It was years after that conversation when I found myself at the famous Babusingh Thakur’s shop in Line Bazaar of Dharwad that I untangled the connection.

BabuSingh's Thakur Pedha shop
BabuSingh’s Thakur Pedha shop

Dharwad Pedha – an Iconic Indian Sweet

Babusingh’s Thakur Pedha Shop is nothing like the iconic status it holds in the state of Karnataka. It is like a hole in the wall being managed by two youngsters. Add to this the fact that this small shop lends the name to this street – Line bazaar. As there used to be a long queue every morning to buy these pedha’s. I would later learn that in its hay days no one could buy more than 500 gms of Pedha in the interest of people in the long queue.

I walked up to the shop and asked to meet the owner. The staff was flabbergasted – he does not meet the customers. I persisted and he gave me the number of a younger scion of the family. And almost challenged me that they will never allow me to take pictures of the Pedha – Yes, I had the camera hanging around my neck.

Box of Dharwad Pedha
Box of Dharwad Pedha

Mathura Pedha

I did manage to get a meeting with Babusingh Thakur, grandson of the original BabuSingh Thakur who brought this iconic sweet to the city of Dharwad. Sitting in his house, right behind the shop, I got to hear about the family that originally hails from UP, but reached Dharwad via Unnao in Bengal. He agreed that the Mathura Pedha is the parent of Dharwad Pedha. I suddenly felt proud of my taste buds. I saw him speaking to his staff in Kannada and was curious what language do they speak at home. He promptly said ‘Hindi’ and thereafter I spoke to him in Shuddh Hindi. He then proceeded to tell me how his father and grandfather would make Pedha’s at home every morning and sell them at this very shop.

Nostalgia

He nostalgically spoke about the long queues and how the sweets used to get finished between 10 AM and 12 AM. Since they made all sweets at home by themselves, they could not make more than 50 kgs or so per day. This reminded me of Indian sweets like Chitale Bandhu Bhakarwadi in Pune that also used to be sold out in couple of hours everyday.

Dharwad Pedha boxes
Dharwad Pedha boxes

Now, of course, many Pedha Chains have come up in Dharwad. Incidentally, most of them have their origins in UP. As a natural progression in last 7-8 years Babusingh Pedha has also expanded, with three factories and many showrooms across multiple cities. In fact at Dharwad bus stop I could see their imprint everywhere. On an average they produce 700-800 Kgs of Pedha everyday. They have also added other popular Indian sweets like Laddu and bakery items including breads to their portfolio. The growing menace of Diabetes is troubling the sweet makers. And Mr Thakur spoke about the various experiments they are doing to make sugar free Indian sweets.

Trunkfull of Dharwad Pedha boxes
Trunkfull of Dharwad Pedha boxes

Dharwad Pedha Factory visit

The baniya in me was curious to see the factory. Mr Thakur agreed to show me on one condition that I will not click any pictures. I understood that it is their business secret that they do not want to let out. In fact during the factory visit I learnt that the family still maintains the formula close to their heart. And they do the mixing themselves every morning, so that even the workers working on the Pedha if poached by competition do not know the formula. The only trick I could pick up from the visit was that they still condense the milk on a wooden fire and not on gas or electric heat.

I had never been to a sweets factory. So it was nice to walk around with savories being made in a big room – they tasted so fresh right out of the pan. Bread was being baked and packed in another, cakes in another and other sweets in the third room. The biggest room was dedicated to Pedha’s of course. They still pack the small boxes in steel trunks to transport them to their shops across the city.

Dharwad Pedha
Dharwad Pedha

It was fascinating to learn the journey of an iconic Indian sweet right from the horse’s mouth and to be able to see it being made right in front of you.

Do taste Dharwad Pedha as and when you get a chance.

You may also like to read my post on Must try food in Varanasi.

Here are a few Places to visit in Hubli-Dharwad and near by, read & explore.

26 COMMENTS

  1. I have been following your refreshing travelogues with an equal measure of awe, interest and let me say it, some jealousy thrown in. Enjoy your writing and the proxy pleasure of travelling to places all over!

  2. Dharwad Pheda is a. Famous Sweet in this area. You wrote a very good incarnation about that.Thanks.

  3. Minor correction, Unnao is not in Bengal, it is in UP, close to Kanpur. We came from Unnao city 5 generations ago to Dharwad

  4. Yes, I am familiar with this sweet. It is prepared with milk. We have an old Indian settlement in Mardan city, dating back to pre partition times. They make this sweet. the old shop is still there. They call it Badayooni Pedha. I have been eating it since my childhood. Greetings from Peshawar,Pakistan.

    • Arbab ji, Badayun is also in UP, as and when I go there will try to find the story of Badayuni pedha as well. I am so happy to hear from you and know a little more about the westward journey of Pedha adding my story on its southward journey. I am waiting for your picture of Pedha that you get in Mardan.

    • Salaam Arbab,

      I am really interested in Pashtun culture and have been reading a lot about it lately. I would like to pay a visit to Mardan someday. I read about the ‘Badayooni peda’ in Mardan.

      Can you help me with the adress and contact information of that shop? Also, is there more than one sweet shop that sells those pedas?

      Shukriya,
      Akira.

  5. this is news 2 me.
    never knew this.
    i know only know of maddur vada on the drive 2 coorg from bangalore a village called muddur sells vadas as a speciality it is hard unlike conventional vadas.
    manapparai murukku in tamil nadu is also one more such murukku from a village called manapparai in tamil nadu.
    scientists from the west claim that the special taste of this murukku comes from the water quality of that place not found elsewhere.
    good versatility in yr. travelogues anu ji.
    now, a wild idea .
    any story bhind the names of culinary items like mysore rasam, mysore bonda, mysore paak sweet, mysore bajjis.
    it will make an intersting read in the media and tv programs.
    more such info 2 satiate the taste buds.
    karthik

  6. It was great to know about the Pedha origin, another brand which is making sounds is Mishsra Pedha. Apart from Pedha and legendary Musicians, Dharwad is an educational hub and much before that a place of literary giants… There was a saying if you throw a stone in any corner of Dharwad it will hit a poet’s home 😉

  7. These pedhas are so close to my heart! I’m from Hubli but only visit the city to meet my extended family. These pedhas are always there at my uncle and aunt’s place. How I love them… the sugar coated treats! The best or worst (I can’t figure it out) part about it is that as you finish having one, the way the taste lingers on your palette, you can’t help having just that one pedha more. I guess it helps that the pedhas are usually small in size.
    I’m suddenly craving for them right now.

  8. Nice to know about the famous dharwad pedha’s ,is there courier facility available so that people like me staying in the city of joy kolkata popular for Durga Puja & rossogolla can enjoy the famous dharwad pedha’s.

  9. Dharwad pedha is a favorite at home, Anuradha. And I know it is connected to the Mathura pedha. In fact, anyone who hasn’t lived in Karnataka and tastes it for the first time, instantly thinks it is a North Indian pedha. Personally, I don’t mind where it is from. This….and ajmeri kalakand. Oh, bliss. (and sigh, diabetes!). 🙂 Thank you for a delightful post!

    • True Vidya. As long as the tongue likes it, it can come from anywhere. My most favourite Mithai is Imarti – it is simply divine.

      Only diabetics know the true worth of Mithai – for we are not diabetic for no reason.

LEAVE A REPLY