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Oldest Indian Sweet Shops: Flavours From Pre-Independence India

by TEAM SALEBHAI - 14-Aug-2018 - Expert Roundup
oldest sweet shops in India

Most of us like experiencing new things in life, be it exploring new places, discovering fusion food, or trying the latest social media challenges. This is what truly keeps us alive from the inside. Isn’t it? That’s the freedom we’ve got!


However, this independence day, let’s time travel to the pre-independence era and see how far we’ve come across. Sounds interesting, right?


Here we go.


Try imagining the following –

Listening to the classic old songs;

Walking leisurely with your childhood friend;

Talking to your loved ones over landline phones;

Or sitting at the roadside shop and sipping your cutting chai. Pretty good times, remember?


We all have such fond memories of chilling out with a bunch of friends at the nukkad shop. These were the simplistic things of our life years ago. Such timeless pieces that we always want to be a part of. What if we say that you can experience the same feel and same food yet again?


You read it right. Your favourite hangout places are still at their same spots, fortunately or unfortunately, it’s you who moved forward in the busy streets of life.


David Guterson, an American novelist, said, ‘There’s a certain nostalgia and romance in the place you left.’


Absolutely! We always like cherishing the good old days and walking down the sweet memory lanes. SaleBhai clearly understands that our chords in life are still rooted and so this time we are taking you on a simple yet magical outing, which will let you turn back few pages of your life and rewind special memories of the oldest sweet shops of our country.


Did you know these sweet shops are still winning the hearts of people? That’s right, their charm from the pre-independence era is still sprinkled over their food and the crowded ambience. And the result can be seen through the twinkling eyes of their customers when they taste their all-time favourite goodies. Check out the five oldest sweet shops in India that have a special place in people’s flashback episodes – since the pre-independence era (in no particular order).


1. Kanwarji Dalbijiwala


Kanwarji Dalbijiwala

Image credit

Year of establishment: 1850

Founder: Lala Kanwar Sen

Speciality: Dal biji

Place: Delhi


A Bollywood movie quoted Dilli as ‘Ye sheher nahi mehfil hai.’ And this mehfil or gathering is incomplete without namkeen that balances all other flavours on the menu. Walk into any true-blue Delhi household and find them serving dal biji as their favourite snack with a hot cup of tea. Although you can find varieties of dal biji all over the city, the brand ambassador of this exclusive recipe is ‘Kanwarji Dalbijiwala’ – a trademark of originality – from Dilli-6.


A savoury prepared with crispy gram flour noodles and muskmelon seeds with the aroma of homemade spices and pure desi ghee will offer you an enticing taste. The recipe has been preserved for more than six generations and that makes this brand so famous not only in our desh but also in videsh. Yes, that’s true! North Indians love stocking their luggage with dal biji before leaving India.


Have you tried this namkeen yet? If not, then do it right away. Also, don’t miss out soan halwa kaju from this store. This combo will surely give you the feel of Chandni Chowk.


2. Bhagat Halwai


bhagat halwai shop

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Year of establishment: 1795

Founder: Lekh Raj Bhagat

Speciality: Special doda barfi

Place: Agra


After visiting the gem of Mughal era ‘Taj Mahal’, you ought to tell your rickshaw bhaiya to take you to Bhagat Halwai. This is another oldest sweet shop in India that has an inspiring history to flaunt. They have been here since the Mughal era. That says it all, isn’t it?


They started melting people’s hearts with puri sabzi, bedai, barfi, jalebi, and rabri. Well, they are still good at what they were doing earlier. And you can taste that through their delicious special doda barfi made with cracked wheat fried in ghee, along with thickened milk, coconut powder, and dry fruits.


Besides the authentic sweets, the present generation of the Bhagat family is trying their hands on new goodies too by using new technologies and focusing more on hygiene. If you are visiting Agra, don’t come back without tasting their exclusive barfi. Otherwise, you’ll have to hear ‘Agra gaya aur doda barfi nahi khaya!’




3. K C Das


K C Das rasgulla

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Year of establishment: 1868

Founder: Krishna Chandra Das

Speciality: Rosogolla

Place: Kolkata


Oh, Calcutta! The city of joy greets you with rosogolla whenever you step down here. Ask the Bongs where to find the best rosogolla, and most of them would suggest you to visit K C Das. The shop is owned by Krishna Chandra Das, son of Nobin Chandra Das – the pioneer of the authentic Bengali dessert and has a fascinating history. It was in 1868 when Nobin Chandra Das started a tiny shop in Bagbazar with a dream to create something on his own. After months of imagination, experiment, and labour, his hard work paid off with something that delights every sweet lover even today. Who can say no to the white spongy chenna ball soaked in sugar syrup? We would never! Take a bite of this heavenly sweet and taste Kolkata in every essence.  Did you know this oldest sweet shop in India sells 2000 kg of this treat daily? Yes, that’s right. Your taste buds deserve some exotic pampering, and when it is from K C Das, the mishti flavours are sure to linger for long. Try it, it's khoob bhalo.




4. Punjabi Ghasitaram Halwai


punjabi ghasitaram halwai

Image credits

Year of establishment: 1916

Founder: Ghasitaram Bajaj

Speciality: Ice halwa, dry fruit anarkali

Place: Mumbai


Who prepares the authentic mithai in India? Of course, the purana halwai! And who are they? Ghasitaram is another oldest sweet shop in India that has been impressing the customers since the pre-independence era. Their priority has always been complete customer satisfaction, and for that, they make everything possible. Their hard work has paid off so well that at present, they have twelve outlets in Mumbai, each spreading the taste of sweetness with their unique delicacies and cheering up the sweet lovers of the country. Add this shop in your foodie’s itinerary, and thank us later.


Sink your teeth into their dry fruit anarkali and get surprised with a generous amount of dry fruits in your mouth. Besides this, don’t forget to relish their famous ice halwa as it holds the power to delight your senses. Believe us.


5. Dotivala Bakers & Confectioners


Dotivala Bakers & Confectioners

Image credit

Year of establishment: 1700s

Founder: Faramji Pestonji Dotivala

Speciality: Surti batasa

Place: Surat


We all have heard of Parsi bakery items, but did you ever get a chance to taste the Parsi baked goodies from the inventors themselves?


If no, then your next destination should be Dotivala Bakers & Confectioners in Surat. They have a story to captivate you, and your Surat trip will definitely be incomplete if you miss out relishing their batasa and nankhatai.


It all started somewhere in the 1700s during the Dutch reign in India, when Dutch established a warehouse and employed five Parsi men. And when they were leaving our country, they handed their responsibility to Faramji Pestonji Dotivala, who worked with complete dedication and unfolded a new chapter in the history of Indian baking.


Their invention of nankhatai and Surti batasa are not only famous in India but also worldwide. The secret recipe is passed on to the new generations who preserve it to offer us the same taste and feel that was experienced by customers in the pre-independence era.


Yes, that is the magic spelt by the Dotivala’s. At present, it is the 6th generation of the family who is proudly taking the legacy forward by offering all smiles and satisfaction to the customers. Don’t worry if you can’t find an opportunity to visit Surat as you can get their Parsi delicacies by ordering online as well. Make your chai ready to enjoy it even more with batasas, nankhatais, and what not.


Gulab Jamun


We know travelling can be fun, but given our busy schedules, it might not be possible to visit all our favourite food destinations. But worry not! SaleBhai brings their popular delicacies right to your doorsteps. Fill in your shopping carts with any of your favourite sweets, bakery items, or namkeen, and place the order.


Do let us know if we’ve missed any of your favourite shops in India that are still pleasing everybody with their taste. And we promise to cover them in our next roundup blog. Stay tuned!

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