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The Maharajas from Jodhpur

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SWEET TEMPTATIONS Stores in the city take the help of chefs from northern states Photo: M. srinath
SWEET TEMPTATIONS Stores in the city take the help of chefs from northern states Photo: M. srinath

The people behind the best goodies...

This is the season of plenty. And plenty, especially when it comes to sweets, is a darn good thing. Mithaiwalas across the country and Hyderabad are doing brisk business as tens and hundreds of varieties of sweetmeats are literally being grabbed off the shelves. If you peeped into any mithai shop this week, you would know what a mithai bazaar looked like!At the same time, keeping up with the demand can be a daunting task. So, shop owners in the city come up with novel ways to cope with situation - by bringing in maharajas from northern states to add their expertise or that `special touch' to the sweets or even hiring a people from the city itself for those much-needed extra hands.Nagarjuna, proprietor of Almond House has an interesting way of dealing with the situation. He says, "Most of our people (chefs) now work in big hotels. So during this time, they come here at night and help us out, long after they finish their shift at the hotels." In a few shops, the special chefs take over making finger biscuits and the more difficult sweets, while the maharajas take up supervision of the kitchen and will probably even make the sweet they are known for. Common, yet often underestimated mithais like Jalebis, Jehangiris and Mal-Puas are made fresh and over the counter by the regular chefs. Nagarjuna goes on to say that a maharaja (head chef from Jodhpur) has also come down. Dadu's also has a few tricks up its sleeve. Kishen from this mithai shop says that they do bring down people from the north to cater to the demand for Deepavali. "We have our secrets," he says. Since Bengali sweets like sandesh and cham-chams and some varieties of North Indian sweets have a shorter shelf life, the need to make more at the same time arises. But with the ghee-filled South Indian sweets that have a much longer shelf life, the requirement is to ensure that a constant supply is made available. Women from surrounding towns come to Hyderabad and help the homemade foods that help many a Balaji sweet shop and the Swagruhas to do well. These women make the ladoos, ariselu, pootharekalu and savouries like murukus all day and night till the day of the festival. They head home in the afternoon, loaded with a nice sum of money. When good things like this come in plenty, no one's complaining, and this time we know whom to thank for that belly full of sweets!RENUKA VIJAY KUMAR

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