Indians and their love for mithai, or sweets, are quite evident. Over the years, several innovative, handcrafted, and fusion mithais have taken over traditional sweets in India. Ahead of Ganesh Chaturthi, Slurrp caught up with the founders of Nihira, Varque, and The Ladoo Wala and talked about the growing market for luxury mithais.
Having "Meetha" in every moment of happiness and celebration has tied people together for ages. From weddings to festivals, from birthdays to rituals, mithais have always crawled their way onto the menu. And when Ganesh Chaturthi is around the corner and many prominent Indian festivals are lined up in a few months, is it totally fair to talk about these heavenly delights? Indians and their fondness for sweets go way back. Over the years, many new Indian mithais have been created, and while some had mythological significance, some were mistakes that were never meant to happen.
Indian mithais witnessed a great evolution when it came to new techniques, methods, and trends. Now, we can see so many handcrafted, innovative, and fusion mithais with unique flavours blended. It was a time when some popular brands like Bikanervala, Haldiram, and others took over the local halwais. And now, we can see many luxury mithai makers stepping onto the scene and taking the world of Indian mithais by storm.
One such millennial luxury brand is Nihira, started by Subha and Arshya Aggarwal. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that this mother-daughter duo is breaking all the stereotypes surrounding Indian sweets. Known for their ubiquitous sweets, the brand also has a wide range of boozy delights like ladoos fused with champagne, red wine, whiskey, gin, and cranberry laddoo, to name a few.
Image credits: Nihira Mithai
"Regardless of our age, mithai is associated with nostalgia for us, whether it's the traditional motichoor from the thali that we'd slip away to devour soon after the pooja was carried out or when our grandparents loaded us with this as a means to express their affection. However, we discovered that gifting and consumption of mithais were in marked decline because the trend in the West was moving quickly towards radical desserts that were so avant-garde and exciting and, more importantly, accessible to everyone in India," says Subha.
She expresses and continues, "Mithai seemed to be a holdover and was even criticized as "boring." So, we reintroduced mithais in an upbeat manner to the younger generation that seemed ‘uber cool’ and not ‘old school’ like the character Indian sweets had taken up. That’s when we decided to create the same memories with their grandmothers and family in a new manner, bridging generations. "That was the start of NIHIRA!"
Subha added, "You can take the Indian out of mithai, but not the mithai out of the Indian. It will never go out of fashion"! And we can’t agree to this more! Nihira’s most popular alcoholic mithais include gin and cranberry ladoo, sambuca and grape ladoo, and Jagerbomb ladoo. They also have a wide range of non-alcoholic mithais like mojito ladoo, lavender ladoo, cheesecake barfi, pina colada ladoo, tiramisu barfi and so much more. They also play with ingredients and come up with interesting fusions, like ghewar chaat!
Image credits: Nihira Mithai
With Ganesh Chaturthi just around the corner, Nihira has come up with a tantalizing array of modaks that promise not only divine flavour but also an extended shelf life of up to 30–40 days. Their specials consist of almond and date modak, gulkand modak, almond and raw mango modak, chana modak, crimson red motichoor, and cranberry modak.
The next emerging luxury mithai brand is The Laddoo Wala, known for its delectable ladoos and savoury treats. While talking to Slurrp, The Laddoo Wala’s co-founder Jyotsna Taneja said, "At The Laddoo Wala, it's our mission to bridge the gap between the premium, indulgent experience that modern consumers seek and the authentic, nostalgic taste of traditional regional Indian mithai. We are committed to ensuring that our mithais not only taste delicious but also prioritize the health and well-being of our customers. We understand that the essence of Indian mithai lies in its regional diversity, and we celebrate that diversity by offering a range of choices."
She added, "We're not just selling mithai; we're packaging nostalgia and blissful flavours in the most authentic way possible, ensuring that every bite is a celebration of tradition, taste, and togetherness."
"The Laddoo Wala" is a labor of love, started by a mother-daughter duo with a deep-rooted connection to the world of culinary delights. It's an ode to our heritage, a tribute to our ancestral recipes, and a commitment to preserving and sharing the rich culinary traditions of India," added Jyotsana. The Laddoo Wala is best known for its Chana Barfi, an exquisite and timeless classic. The meticulous process of slow-roasting gram flour to bring out its nutty richness, followed by the addition of pure ghee, results in a velvety, melt-in-the-mouth texture that's nothing short of divine.
Their kesari motichoor laddoo is another gem in our collection and is equally adored. Additionally, they have irresistible savoury treats, and one that stands out is the Achari Mathi. Ahead of Ganesh Chaturthi, the laddoo wala has an array of modak varieties since modak is believed to be Lord Ganesha's favourite sweet, symbolizing his love for wisdom as well as sweetness in life. Their Ganesh Chaturthi specials include kesar modak, khoya modak, and coconut modak, among others.
With an aim to deliver an artisanal range of mithai that adds a hint of extravagance to any celebration, Varque is yet another flourishing luxury mithai brand in the country. Varque’s founder, Mrs. Arpan Sachdev, said that they offer unique and innovative mithais made with high-quality ingredients. She said, "Varque was started straight from our home kitchen, with recipes evolving from the daily home-made needs of Indian desserts to the constant appreciation received, urging us to take this plunge to broaden the aspect."
With Ganesh Chaturthi just a few days away, Varque has prepared a wide range of exotic-flavoured modaks, from pistachios and besan to kaju with Nutella and rose motichoor. Their popular varieties include coconut and jaggery modak, chocolate modak, dry fruit modak, kesar modak, mawa modak, pistachio modak, nutella kaju modak, paan modak, and besan modak.
When it comes to offering premium-quality Indian sweets for decades, we just can’t miss talking about Bangalore-based Anand Sweets. Pivoting from an old-school traditional mithai brand to the go-to brand for every celebration, Anand sweets have been ruling the hearts of people. They use absolutely fresh, carefully selected ingredients sourced from the best across the country to go into making every bite and focus on the culmination of tradition, innovation, and uncompromising quality.
In a conversation with Slurrp, Arvind Dadu, Managing Director of Anand Sweets, said that Indian sweets play an integral role in festivities, and Ganesh Chaturthi is no exception. Their most popular mithai during Ganesh Chaturthi is undoubtedly our assortment of modaks. Their specials include mawa modak, boondi modak, kaju modak, and coconut modak.