Mumbai or the erstwhile Bombay was originally an archipelago of seven islands. Colaba, Little Colaba or Old Woman's Island, Isle of Bombay, Mazgaon, Mahim, Worli and Parel. These were connected to each other through a series of land reclamation projects over a period of five centuries. 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. Though I was decent at History in school, this bit of information seemed to have either been missed in the syllabus or by me. I think it might've been the latter. Curiously, I learnt about this while roaming around the streets of Mahim in Mumbai. Hoping to find some original street food, I found this very old-looking but well-maintained sweet shop which had quite a curious sort of name 'Joshi Booda Kaka Mahim Halwa Wala'.
I was curious and went in. This turned out to have a 225 year old history. Now how many sweet shops have you seen which have a history of 225 years and still rocking. I haven't. I then got a superb lesson in history from the owner Mr. Joshi on Booda Kaka Mahim Halwa and on Mumbai.
Booda KakaMr. Joshi is the seventh generation sweet maker of the family. He's a doctor by profession and also runs the family business. His great-great-great-great grandfather Giridhar Mavji walked all the way from Jamnagar in Gujarat to Bombay somewhere between 1783 and 1787. He stayed in the area of Mahim, which I'm guessing was still surrounded by swamps till the Hornby Vellard project to unite all seven islands of Bombay, was completed by 1839.
Giridhar Mavji along with his son Inder, used to roam around the streets of Mahim selling these wonderful sheets of halwa that they used to make. Quickly enough, this halwa became famous and was in demand. Though I didn't get to see photos, I'm guessing Mr. Mavji had a thick loft of grey hair. And sooner or later, he was named Booda Kaka or old uncle by the residents of Mahim. And the halwa was named after him. The halwa became quite popular and a shop was set up. Because this was pretty much a local thing. Mahim's name got attached to the halwa at some point of time. Hence, Joshi Booda Kaka Mahim Halwa Wala. What a wonderful story! Mahim Halwa is made from wheat extract, sugar and ghee. This is cooked together over a very slow fire and then spread out over a wooden top, into a thin sheet. And then cut into squares once it cools down. And wrapped in cellophane paper.
Address - Off Cadell road, Mahim, Mumbai. Near Mahim Masjid. They have branches in Tardeo and Dadar, but you should go to the original one in Mahim. This isn't just about the sweet Mahim Halwa, but the sense of history that you get from this wonderful 225 year old shop. Which I'm sure is missing from the new ones.
About The Author:
Chowder Singh started blogging in November 2011 on Indian street food, small restaurants and hole-in-the-wall kind of places that in spite of producing brilliant quality food, are largely unrecognised outside of their localities. He believes that these are the real heroes of Indian food, who have been consistently putting out their family recipes over many years and now will hopefully get more recognition for the superb work that they've been doing.
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