I had the Dharwad peda for the first time in Pune at a shop called Mishra Peda. The Mathura peda is the more well known peda and this was the first time I came across the Dharwad version. Unlike a regular peda, which is the Indian version of a milk fudge and is light brown in colour, the Dharwadi peda is dark brown in colour and coated with finely ground sugar. The texture is slightly more chewy that a normal peda and a wonderful rich flavour. I’ve had peda at many different places, but the Dharwad version is special. The sweet is in a league of its own.
Mishra Peda was stablished in 1933 by Shri Avadhbihari Mishra as a small shop near the City bus stand in Hubli and has now spread to multiple branches in different cities. The peda is still only made in their factory in Dharwad with the family’s secret recipe and is sent fresh everyday to their outlets in other cities though local transport. The shop has other sweets too, but the Dharward peda is the one that stands out.
Though quite popular, the origins of the Dharwadi peda aren’t with the House of Mishra. It goes back to 1846, when Shri Ram Ratan Thakur came from the town of Unnao, some 18-odd kms from Kanpur and set up Thakur Peda at Line Bazaar in Dharwad. The Dharwadi peda is probably a take on the famous lal peda of Uttar Pradesh, famous in Mathura, Lucknow and Benaras. The Mathura peda is the more well known as it is know.n as Lord Krishna’s favourite sweet, but the Benaras and Lucknow ones also have a big fan following. The Benaras peda is also known to be ancient in its origin.
The Dharwadi peda has sugar added while the milk is being reduced and hence the deep brown colour of the sweet because of the sugar caramelising. But the peda is not very sweet and the powdered sugar coating on top gives it an additional sweetness. The texture is also slightly on the chewy side and has a lovely bite. The sweet now protected by a Geographical Indication (GI) tag and rightfully so. It’s a wonderful sweet with a history behind it.
Happy hunting the Dharwadi peda and chowder-on!