One souvenir all visitors to Hubli-Dharwad love to take back home is the peda. The people of these parts of the State have got so used to 'saying it with pedas' that no occasion is complete without the pedas. Be it good results in the examination, a promotion, the birth of a baby or the ritual of ‘seeing’ the bride, pedas are an integral part of the celebration.
The history and tradition behind the pedas are equally interesting. Ask any 70-80-year old when they first ate pedas and their stock answer in their typical local dialect is - “Sannava iddagininda peda thinnakattini" (I’ve been eating pedas right from my childhood).
How did it all begin? It was all due to the efforts of the Thakurs. Lucknow's Ram Ratan Singh who migrated to Dharwad about 150 years ago started making pedas. The lineage continued with his son Babu Singh, grandson Ram Ratan and great grandson Praveen Kumar continuing to make pedas. Thus the fifth generation of Praveen Thakur's family is also making only pedas.
To this day, people queue up early in the morning in front of Thakur's home in Line Bazaar in Dharwad to buy pedas. The reason: Consistency in the quality of pedas which they have maintained. These pedas do not lose their flavour or turn sour even if they are kept for months.
The preparation of pedas is generally time consuming. Milk is kept boiling till it turns into a thick khova. Sugar is then added and the pedas made. One must note here that no artificial colours or preservatives are added to these pedas. As a result, they are safe to be consumed by one and all. Ask any 80-year-old in Hubli-Dharwad the secret of his/her strength and they say, “It’s the peda,”
Pedas on Sundays too
Due to the heavy demand for pedas, Thakurs are preparing them on Sundays also. In the beginning, pedas were available only between 10 am and 12 noon. Now-a-days, they sell nearly 60-80 kg in just about three to four hours. "Because of the hike in milk price we have increased the price of pedas by Rs 10 per kilo. Right now, we are selling it at Rs 140 per kilo," says Praveen, who recalls that in 1913 the British Viceroy to India, Lord Wellington, had presented a medal and a certificate to Babu Singh, his grandfather, for the quality of pedas he made.
He also recalls the time when in 1925, at an exhibition in Mumbai, Ram Ratan Singh had received a certificate for his pedas. He reminisces proudly the honour he received in 1999 at the Dharwad utsav. Just as a light snack and a good combination while sipping tea, Thakur also sells mixture (khara) along with the pedas.
Thakur has opened two more outlets, one opposite the Dharwad old bus stand and another one opposite the Hubli old bus stand. He has also opened another shop near Hubli CBT. His pedas are also available near Bhashyam Circle, Rajajinagar and Thimmanna Hosuru's UK Food in Bangalore.
Retired engineer Sadananda Masoor, Arvind Desai, lecturer Shivanand Nilgund, taxi operator Tabaris, Dharwad's Seema living in Mumbai, Canara Bank employee Narayan Serigar, design engineer in Nasik Mahaveer Gogi, his sister Sangeeta Gogi, a software engineer in Bangalore, all line up in front of Thakur's house to buy pedas in kilos whenever they visit Dharwad.
Apart from the well-known Thakur brand, everyone wants to encash on the brand name 'Dharwad' and hence pedas are sold in Hubli-Dharwad bakeries and other parts of the State under this name.
However, nothing to match up to the quality, taste and unique flavour of Dharwad pedas.
Translated by N Niranjan Nikam