The irony is delicious! It was a man from Rewari, Haryana who created the most-loved brand of authentic Maharashtrian chiwda, the piquantly spiced ‘mixture’ of crispy poha, fried peanuts, finely sliced copra, handpicked raisins, roasted sesame, and pungent asafoetida. LaxmiNarayan Datta’s Chiwda is a household name for its savouries today. When this was started in 1935, little did he know that his humble mixture of flattened rice, peanuts and spices would be identified as the taste of Pune
The popularity of brand name in Pune is such that if you are talking chiwda in the city, you have to be talking Laxmi Narayan Chiwda.
It all began in 1920
The story of Pune’s very popular and loved chiwda goes back to 1920 when a hawker form Haryana by the name Laxminarayan Datta leading to his fallout with the British, roamed around the country to settle down and resume his business of selling chiwda, samosa and other snacks. Datta went as far as Rangoon and Kabul in his search. Finally, he came to Pune in 1935 and fell in love with the city. He setup his handcart in Bhawani Peth area where he sold chiwda, ladoos and ice-creams, all made by himself.
Everything was liked but it was the chiwda that proved to be a runaway success. Datta quickly applied for a trademark for his carefully crafted and unique recipe under the interim government in 1949, reapplying diligently in 1951. His son who carries on the flourishing business today, Babulal Laxminarayan Datta, still treasures his father’s old handcart license.
The making of ‘Taste of Pune’
Laxminarayan Chiwda, is a speciality that nobody else can in Pune can make. Our ingredients include rice flour, cornflakes and potato. The rice is a special variety grown in Karnataka, further pressed into poha in Madhya Pradesh. The secret of the chiwda’s popularity is its taste. As Babulal Laxminarayan Datta says, “I don’t need to sell the chiwda to Maharashtrians, they love it because we cater to their taste.” The chiwda contains no added flavors, sweeteners or preservatives. Babulal Datta, who began helping his father in the business by stirring the chiwda bhattis at the age of 14, can make all varieties of chiwda we sell. We also make recipes without onions, garlic or even fried green chillies.
The amazing success story
Currently, Laxminarayan Chiwda yields a turnover of INR 17.7 crores. Over 90% of food retailers in Pune stock the brand. Out-of-Pune sales account for 20% of turnover, a figure Babulal says is rising. The brand currently has 35 stockists across Maharashtra, and five in other states. The chiwda travels outside Pune to Nashik, Solapur, Sangli and Satara. It is also exported to the US, the Gulf and South Africa.
However, in Pune you have to visit Bhawani Peth to get the chiwda. A push into modern trade is also on cards. Soon, you can expect Laxminarayan Chiwda on the shelves of supermarket chains as well.