It is that time of the year again, when the elephant God arrives in all his glory and his devotees literally bring the house down. With each passing year, the mass celebrations have started to channel a very different vibe from what the original religious festivities were known for. While traditional chants are now overshadowed by the latest Bollywood sounds, and gaudy outfits replace traditional Indian clothes, thankfully the prashad of boondi ladoos, sugar balls and modaks remain true to tradition. I travelled across Mumbai, Pune and Nashik to bring you my picks for sweet shops still offer the traditional flavours of Ganpati; and have also included a few modern favourites.
Maa Karachi Sweet Mart (Pune)
Opened in 1948, Maa Karachi Sweet Mart is a popular spot parked right in the buzz of Pune’s MG Road. They are known for their traditional sweets during festivals from Holi to Diwali to Ganesh Chaturthi and a year round supply of India’s favourite sweet delicacies. This year’s modaks include the traditional ones which are steamed, but they have created 21 flavours this year (Rs. 500-800/kg) which include malai, kesar, elaichi and fruits. While the MG Road branch is the main one, their other two branches Bhavan Sweets (Fatima Nagar, Wanowarie) and Maya Sone (Sachapir Street, Camp) will offer the same.
Maa Karachi Sweet Mart, Karachiwala Complex, 16, M.G Road, Camp, Pune 411 001, +91-20-26853621, www.karachisweetmart.com
Bhavnagari Fancy Sweet Mart (Pune)
Bhavnagari Fancy Sweet Mart is as old school as one can get. With over 4 generations of customers visiting the outlet on Sachapir Street they have retained their traditional sweets making recipes for over a century. Known for their Suterfeni and Rasmalai throughout the year, for the festivities they have introduced their trademark khoya and cashew modaks along with chocolate (which has been a hit with consumers for a few years). Retailing at Rs. 400-800/kg, these are a popular choice for the Pune-ites. Tip: Ask for their malai modaks which are oh-so-creamy and delicious.
With over 20 locations around Maharashtra, this Pune original also has shops in Karjat, Roha, Baramati and Panvel. Chitale Bandhu is a name to reckon with, offering a variety of sweets and namkeens. Chitale has travelled far and wide with their ready-to-make packaged food products too (gulab jamun, idli, dhokla and medu wada). They are innovative with the modaks, with their 400+ employees expertly churning out kaju and mawa varietals. Flavours such as mango, blueberry and strawberry, shine with the regular ones. The fancy ones are Rs. 800-900/kg.
Chitale Bandhu, Bajirao Road, Pune 777, Sadashiv Peth, Pune – 411030, Tel: +91-20-24473208
Tewari Bros (Mumbai)
Be it a wedding, birthday, office celebration or festival, Tewari Bros. are known for their extensive selection of sweet and savoury offerings and is a one-stop-shop for all things celebratory. While other sweet makers in the city strive for perfection in flavours and creativity, Tewari’s hottest selling modaks are the simple mawa and cashew ones. The mawa modak that retails for Rs. 500/kg along with the plain white, steamed ones are a popular choice. Pick up the delicious anjeer modaks (Rs. 950/KG) or the traditional kesar (Rs. 1,090/kg) for a traditional Ganpati offering this season.
Tewari Bros, Mithaiwala, Nand Deep Society, Near Sion Hospital, Sion, Mumbai, +91-22-24021239
Shree Gangour Sweets (Mumbai)
Shree Gangour Sweets began as a sweet shop in Juhu where the locals go for their sweet fix, but also love the chaat ‘street’ they have created outside the store. From mini motichoor ladoos, mohanthal and khopra pak which tempts the ubiquitous Gujarati community of Juhu and neighbouring areas, they appease the locals by introducing some really whacky creations during the festivals. This time their modaks come packed in glitzy sweet boxes, lined up in colours of the rainbow with a sparkly dusting of edible glitter. Choose from modaks flavoured with Purple Jamun, Orange Crunch, Pan Masala, Red Velvet, Pista and Mango (at Rs. 1,480/kg).
Shree Gangour Sweets, 14, Juhu Supreme Shopping Centre, Gulmohar Cross Road 9, Juhu, Mumbai 400049, +91-22-2670 3889. Also available on Swiggy.
Sagar Sweets (Nashik)
Since 1995, Sagar Sweets have been a leading player in Nashik’s sweets industry. Supplying all over India they are known for their innovative sweet making. From the quirky chocolate bati sweet, kaju cones and fruit sweets which look like the fruit itself (apple, strawberry and kamalfool) they also put a spin on their modaks every year. This year they have their regular ones but the strawberry, butterscotch and chocolate are slated to be bestsellers. A particular fancy for their motichoor modaks (fried kesar mini dough balls of boondi shaped like modaks at Rs. 520/kg) are a must have this season.
The 148 year old Pande Mithai was established by Jagannath Shivlal Pande in 1864. A typical looking store selling a variety of sweetmeats which include pedhas, gulab jamun, shrikhand, raghodas laddoos and khurchand wadi (a special Nashik recipe), malai burfi, basundi and dairy products. Running 6 generations deep into the Jagannath Pande family name their super-size gulab jamuns are known all over. Their festive offerings for Ganpati includes ukadiche modaks made from traditional ingredients (rice, sugar and steamed, filled with dry fruits) and are the popular choice every year.
Pande Mithai, 1110, Main Rd, Shalimar, Nashik 422001, +91-253-2505498
Fantasie Chocolates (Mumbai)
Mumbai’s glamorous chocolate queen Zeba Kohli’s brand Fantasie has been creating artisanal chocolates since 1946. Handcrafted delights with creamy milk, dark or white chocolate have been a signature staple from pralines to truffles. In keeping with the ongoing season of religious celebrations Fantasie has introduced a giant chocolate modak using their signature recipe (Rs. 1,200/500 gms) and available in beautiful packaging.
Taking inspiration from the traditional modak, Sanjana Patel's brand La Folie have created a modern line of pastry products infusing traditional modak ingredients and global flavours with international techniques and a look that will appeal to consumers who favour traditional sweets during this festive occasion. Hazelnut & sesame praline chocolate truffle, coconut and saffron mango white chocolate truffle and the Rocher praline are specially designed for Ganpati.
The story of Le 15 begins in the 15th arrondissement of Paris, where the founder & head chef Pooja Dhingra first thought of bringing a little bit of her happy place, Paris, to Mumbai. Founded in 2010, Le 15 started as a small patisserie that retailed cupcakes & macarons but today is a cult food & dessert brand in India. They had a a nostalgia-inspired menu for Raksha Bandhan comprising of Black Forest macarons, pineapple macarons and cashew macarons (with a silver foil detailing that looked much like the kaju katli) that were reminiscent of childhood favourites we enjoyed with our siblings. This has been reintroduced for Ganpati this year. Followed with an eggless cupcake menu to include flavours such as Chai Chocolate Cupcake (with a Marie Crumb), Hazelnut Cappuccino Cupcake and Dark Chocolate & Orange Cupcake, spruce up your festive game with Pooja’s creations.