Mathura Peda can bring water to your mouth, even if you just think of these reddish-brown sweet dishes lined up in a sweet shop. A few years ago, I visited Dharwad and did a story on the locally famous Pedha. To my utter surprise, I discovered that Dharwad Pedha is nothing but Mathura Ka Peda that decided to travel southwards. Since then, it was on my agenda to go and see the making of this famous sweet dish in Mathura.
Anyway, you can not visit the city and come back without tasting and buying its world-famous sweet dish Peda.
Around Holi this year, I finally got to spend some time in Mathura. In its lanes around Dwarkadhish temple, I found the unit of Brijwasi Sweets where all their sweets are made. Now, Brijwasi Peda is the best known Peda from Mathura. I could not have asked for more.
When I visited in the morning, I saw a lot of big and small suppliers supplying milk to the unit. Some of the milk cans even have Brijwasi engraved on them.
Video – Making of Mathura Peda
Watch this video on the making of this famous sweet dish from Braj Bhumi.
In a large L-shaped hall, men and women were busy making sweets of all kinds. Son Papdi, Mal Puye, Gujhia, Balu Shahi, Rasgulla, Motichoor Laddoo, Pinni Magadh Ke Laddoo – you name it & it was being prepared. I lusted at all the Mithai being made in a pretty homelike manner and in an impeccably clean place.
However, the Peda preparation for the day had not yet started.
I requested to speak to the manager, and I was ushered to the cabin of Sh. Rajiv Agrawal – the owner of Brajwasi Sweets. He treated us to a sample of sweets & tea, along with their famous Peda. He spoke about the daily routine of the factory, which actually begins with receiving milk that is delivered.
When I told him about Dharwad Pedha, he said ‘Ye Kahan Padta Hai?’ Where is this? I showed him my post on the same. He read it with keen interest. Looking at the images of Dharwad Pedha he felt artificial colors are added to them. I had to convince him that they are as popular in south India as Brijwasi in North India. They would not indulge in such practices and I have personally visited their factory as well. Looks like I gave him a travel goal to visit Karnataka.
Which one is better?
Mr. Agrawal asked me to taste their Peda and tell me which one is better. The dilemma that I often subject my followers to, was glaring at me in my face. Politely, I said this is from my ‘Mayka’ and that is from my ‘Sasural’, and you know which one I would like more. The fact is my favorite sweet is Jalebi or Imarati any day.
At Dharwad, the Babu Singh family was very secretive about their formula. So, I asked Rajiv Ji, if they also have a secret formula. He laughed it off and said, even if there is one, everyone on the floor knows it.
Good Old Ways of Management
I saw a unique chart hanging on his cabin wall. It had the rate of milk to be paid to vendors as per the time it is delivered. So, if a vendor delivers at 7 AM he ends up getting Rs 1-2 extra per liter compared to the one who delivers at 9 AM. What an incredible way to reward good performance or on-time delivery.
Behind the glass were piles of diaries that looked like a small version of Bahi Khata that the Baniyas use to maintain records. This is the record-keeping of the milk supply.
I was told that the preparation of the sweet dish starts around noon time. So, I stepped out to explore the ghats of Yamuna not too far from here. Around noontime, I was back to take a walk through the making of this famous sweet dish.
Making of Mathura Peda
The Peda, as you know, is made of primarily two ingredients – Milk and Sugar. Milk is boiled & simmered on slow heat and allowed to solidify. Powdered sugar called ‘Bura’ is added to it. Once it cools down, each piece is given a rough shape by hand before giving it a final round shape.
At Brijwasi Sweets, you see the milk being boiled in large Kadahis in two rows across a large hall. Technology has been introduced to boil milk in boilers. Gas is used instead of the traditional wood fire. Most other activities are still being done by hand.
So, each one you eat is made by hand, one at a time. Each Rasgulla is stuffed with little cardamom-flavored Maal as they call it, manually by hand. Each Gujia is rolled by women. Once ready, Brijwasi Sweets are put on the aluminum trays one by one, delicately balanced on each other.
When you look at the workers patiently making these sweets, that will be consumed on some happy occasion or will be offered to the deities in various temples in the city, you do not want them to be replaced by some mechanization. You want this human connection to stay as it is.
As I walked around clicking this video and pictures, they all smiled and wondered if it would come on TV. There was a gentle pace at which everyone worked, as the material moved from one place to another. There was no hurry but not for a minute, I see any hands stop either while speaking to me or otherwise.
The unit works from early morning to the afternoon when all the Mithai or sweets are ready to go to the 7 Brijwasi Peda shops across Braj Bhumi. Most sweets are sold in soft cardboard boxes.
Sh. Agrawal did show me the packaging they have for exports. No, they do not export themselves or through a distributor. Their regular customers carry them as and when they come visiting the city or as and when their relatives from here visit them.
Brijwasi Sweets belongs to the city-based Brijwasi group that now also has hotels in the city. I stayed at one of their properties this time. The city was once known for its wealthy merchants called Seths. Many of the temples in the city and Vrindavan were built by them. Agarwal family of the Brijwasi group is one such family whose brand is synonymous with the brand of Mathura. The two names are almost inseparable.
I stepped out of the unit with a smile that follows a fulfilled wish.