Lucknow's Chhappan Bhog Has A Sweet Worth Rs 56,000
Image Credit: Exotica, Chhappan Bhog

NEWS REPORTS state that among the many delicacies that were part of the Ram Mandir consecration in Ayodhya on 22 January 2024, were boxes of treats ordered specially from Chhappan Bhog, a Lucknow sweet shop. Compared to the centuries-old heritage of some of the sweet shops in the City of Nawabs, Chhappan Bhog is a relatively young entity, tracing its inception to the start of the ‘90s. However, within the three decades of its existence, it has made a mark for itself, invariably featuring on “best of” lists compiled by Lucknow-based/visiting foodies.

Chhappan Bhog’s Ayodhya goodie box included ghee mawa laddoos, gur revdi, ramdana chikki, akshat, roli, tulsi dal, a Ram diya, and sweet cardamom seeds; 15,000 of these boxes were ordered for the January 22 ceremony. However, the shop is known for a lot more than these items. The mewa bites here are generally lauded as a “must-try”. These dry fruit-and-nut-laden confections even scooped up an award for the “most innovative sweet” at the 2020 World Mithai-Namkeen Convention & Expo in Hyderabad. Chhappan Bhog also offers an array of low-calorie sweets, while their aloo tikki and matar chaat count as absolute crowd-pleasers. Their jalebis, kulfi, samosas and more routinely earn high praise from customers. 

On a more exclusive note, Chhappan Bhog also has the distinction of being the home of one of the most expensive sweets retailed in India. Called “Exotica”, prices for this square-shaped morsel begin upwards of Rs 2,240 for a box of four, all the way up to Rs 56,000 for a box of 10. What makes this sweet so pricey? Well, the ingredients for one: pine nuts from Kinnaur, mamra almonds from Iran, pistachios from Afghanistan, macadamia nuts from South Africa, hazelnuts From Turkey, saffron from Kashmir — all wrapped in edible gold foil. Then there’s the labour involved: 6-7 hours of work are needed to prepare a batch of Exotica. And there’s the container itself: a wooden treasure chest, or sandook, which aids the longer shelf-life of the dry sweet within. A box of Exotica lasts over 20 days, and can be shipped across India and worldwide.

Apparently, the inspiration for crafting Exotica came in the mid-2000s when a Delhi-based industrialist asked Chhappan Bhog to come up with a sweet that was both delicious and priceless. Taking a cue from the kinds of experiments routinely carried out by Michelin-starred chefs in their kitchens, premium ingredients were sourced from their regions of origin to form the base for Exotica. The finished product’s name is a nod to the far-flung homes of its ingredients. 

As for how this edible gold nugget tastes, your guess is as good as ours! While celebrities from the film and political worlds are seemingly among Exotica’s fans, humble mortals like us will simply have to take the sweet’s deliciousness on hearsay.