Bikaner: This is where the mawa comes from

bikaner-100109-0092If you are an Indian, a sweet tooth has to be a part of your anatomy. With taste buds allocated specially to Indian sweets made of milk, sugar and other flavourings.

That is why the mawa business is so big in the country. A key ingredient for most Indian sweets, the Mawa Bazaar located just off the Banthiyon Ka Chowk in Bikaner is the biggest wholesale market for mawa in Rajasthan after Dholpur according to Laxmi Narayan Raj Purohit, one of the vendors. Made from cow milk around Bikaner, and buffalo milk around Dholpur, villagers make these at home and sell through wholesalers. A drop of poisonous hydro gives it the solid, granular look; current prices when I checked were Rs. 80 per kilo at the retail level. The distributor would have bought it for Rs. 74, the difference being his profit.

It is distributed all over north India from Bikaner packed in tin containers called pipas. But it has to be kept in cool conditions. It may last up to three days in winters, but would spoil within two hours in the summers without refrigeration. Demand peaks during festive seasons like Raksha Bandhan and Diwali. It is not a high adrenalin business though; most traders just sit around all day processing only a few orders, but enough to take home a decent profit.

Interestingly, Laxmi Narayan’s family occupation was jagiri, or managing vast tracts of agricultural land. But land reform laws after independence imposed limits on individual land holdings forcing many to change professions.

Was business good? Laxmi Narayan did not raise a toast but did let out a long burp in response.

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