Mumbai or the erstwhile Bombay was originally an archipelago of seven islands. Colaba, Little Colaba, Isle of Bombay, Mazgaon, Mahim, Worli and Parel. These were connected to each other through a series of land reclamation projects. The last of which was the Colaba causeway; built in 1839 by the British. Before which, Colaba and Little Colaba were accessible only during low tide. I found this very old-looking sweet shop which I found roaming around in the gullies of Mahim. The shop had a curious name Joshi Budhakaka Mahim Halwa wala.
I was curious and went in. This turned out to have more than a 200 year old history. Not many sweet shops of that period are still around. I met the owner Mr. Joshi and got an excellent history from him. Both on Joshi Budhakaka Mahim Halwa Wala and on Bombay.
The seventh generation now runs this iconic sweet shop. The history of the Mahim Halwa goes back to Giridhar Mavji who was a sweet maker from Jamnagar in Gujarat. He came to Bombay in 1787 and settled in Mahim. He made Mahim Halwa at home and sold it by going house to house. Giridhar had a loft of grey hair and was fondly known as Budhakaka or old uncle and the sweet got its name from the area it was founded. Later on his son, Inder joined him in the business and they setup a small shop sometime in the early 1800’s.
The Mahim halwa is made from wheat extract, sugar and ghee. This’s cooked together over a very slow fire and then spread into thin sheets on a wooden plank. And cut into squares after cooling down. The sweet is then wrapped in cellophane paper. Mahim Halwa is now available in many sweet shops across Bombay, but the origins of this wonderful sweet are in the gullies of Mahim.
Here’s a video of the owner explaining the history of the sweet
Happy hunting and chowder-on!