LIFE IS SWEET
Business Today|October 17, 2021
A HANDFUL OF CHEFS AND F&B PROFESSIONALS IS TRYING TO MAKE SWEETMEATS, OR MITHAI, FASHIONABLE
SMITA TRIPATHI
QUICK, HOW DO YOU MAKE MITHAI EXCITING? HOW ABOUT INFUSING A DASH OF CHAMPAGNE IN YOUR LADDOO, OR COATING YOUR PATISSA WITH COCONUT AND CARAMEL, OR ENCASING DARK Belgian chocolate truffle in a grandma-style traditional besan laddoo? A small but significant number of food and beverage (F&B) professionals are doing this and a lot more to make mithai fashionable.

“We wanted to take what is traditional and then reimagine it,” says Sameer Seth, Co-founder of Hunger Inc, the company behind Mumbai-based restaurants, The Bombay Canteen and O Pedro. Seth and fellow Cofounder Yash Bhanage set up Bombay Sweet Shop in March last year. “We imagined it as Willy Wonka’s mithai factory,” says Seth. So, the store has flooring with bees hovering around flowers with kaju katli-shaped petals, and spot-lit glass cases with mithai displayed. The mithai itself uses a lot of chocolate. Take, for example, the best-selling kaju marzipan which gives a chocolatey twist to the classic kaju katli. It sandwiches two layers of kaju katli with a thick layer of decadent chocolate ganache. Each square is then dipped in chocolate and then sprayed with a chocolate spray. A box of nine pieces costs ₹600.

Chef Girish Nayak, who is referred to as Chief Mithaiwala, loves to reinterpret traditional mithai in his own way. So, you have the lal peda but filled with dulce de leche caramel and chunks of peanut honeycomb, or the besan laddoo coated in sugar syrup and toasted hazelnuts.

Up north, Delhi-based mother-daughter duo Subha and Arshya Aggarwal—who belong to a family of malt manufacturers—decided to experiment with liquor in mithai. “The mithai market was stagnant, no one was really experimenting. If you could have liquor chocolates, then why not liquor mithai?” says Arshya of Nihira. The brand was set up by the duo in 2018 with a few traditional mithais, but they soon realised that experimentation was the way forward. Today, Nihira has almost 80 different varieties and plans to have nearly a 100 by Diwali. The most popular ones include the whisky laddoo, the red wine laddoo, the Old Monk halwa, and the gin & cranberry laddoo. Nihira also has a range of non-alcoholic mithai but with a twist in taste. So, you have barfis in colours that pop, where the khoya is combined with rich flavours like blueberry, tiramisu, and cheesecake.

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