The Good Life

Gourmet mithais

These Indian halwais are giving your favourite traditional sweet an international twist

Your favourite Mathura pedas are now getting a smooth caramel filling. Or even better, how about some home-like besan ke ladoo with Belgian chocolate topping? Probably, the perfect sweet for the new age cafe-going youngsters — and maybe something that their grandparents wouldn’t mind either. Names such as Gur-Chini Sweets and Arq Mithais are gaining popularity among the HNI-circuit events, bridging generational gaps.

What is not-so-well-known are the fancy price tags that these innovations come with. A vertical of luxury catering company Le Chaat Factory, Delhi-based Gur-Chini is fresh from its glory of serving at Akash Ambani and Shloka Mehta’s wedding. It’s 46-member team supplied 800 boxes of its famous ‘Swarnmishtha’, a ladoo made of Italian pistachio and 24-karat gold varq or edible foil, costing Rs.1,000 a piece. “Swarnmishtha’s cost can go up to Rs.31,000 for a kilo. Gold used in the varq is sourced from Dubai, while we use natural low-calorie sweeteners such as Stevia and other ingredients such as manuka, buckwheat, Garcia honey and an exclusive type of gur (jaggery) to make them,” says Gaurav Chauhan, owner, Gur-Chini.

He adds, “We have further tried to innovate with sweets such as badam ladoo filled with caramel ball inside, Belgian chocolate besan ladoo,  milk cake made with nolen gur, rosewater-soaked pink motichur ladoo and aam papad dry fruit ladoo.” Gur Chini’s other major clients have been the Adanis, Jindals, TBZ Jewellers and Kumar Builders of Pune.

Another modernist mithai walas of Delhi started just a few months ago after planning and researching on sweets from different places for almost a year and a half. It is trying to create a niche with not just its sweets but also plastic-free, ring-shaped packaging and tiara boxes. Founders Akshay Dhopatkar and Neha Lakhani are both professional chefs trained in France. However, they decided to go back to their cultural roots and start Arq Mithais.

Dhopatkar says, “We’ve launched a few flavours with an international influence however all others follow classic recipes. We believe we are the Hermès of mithai. We use all high quality, completely organic ingredients and strictly avoid artificial flavours or colouring and preservatives. We don't call it fusion because it is not that. We have just combined a few elements that work very well together.”

Lakhani adds, “We are looking at making Indian mithais fit for modern gifting. Our retail boxes comes with assorted sweets starting from Rs.600 per box up to Rs.3,600.”

Their special clients so far have been PVR Cinemas, Hazoorilal Jewellers and a few leading business families of the country. “We also take special wedding orders for box counts of minimum 200-400 and allow customisation of flavours. Since the ingredients used are exotic nuts and imported chocolates costing Rs.9,000 per kilo, the sweet could be priced between Rs.20,000 and Rs.30,000 per kilo.”

Lakhani also mentions a favourite — coconut barfis, which are as soft as snow in texture unlike regular sweet shop coconut barfis. Arq’s other popular offerings are Besan Truffle — grandma style besan ladoo coated with dark chocolate, Malterine Marmalade — a new innovation made with sweet and citric flavours of tangerine and orange along with gurmandi almond paste.

India is never short of a reason to celebrate and mithais are just the perfect way to do that. In an ever-growing Rs.80-billion market of sweets and savouries, recession was never an excuse since, not just HNIs, even the common man is ready to splurge millions over a perfect wedding, which is of course all about food and sweets.