The story of Bhujia
Usually called “Bhujia”, “Bhujia Sev” or just “Sev”, when put into the mouth, it instantly transports me to my childhood when I first had Bhujia in my life. It was a day of summer during my kindergarten, when my mom and I used to visit Grandma during summer vacations. Playing all day in the dirt with cousins, taking bath post sunset and being served Bhujia with Chai, as a tea-time snack, were fondest of my childhood memories. From being a luxury snack only reserved for the guests, to now being an anytime snack, Bhujia has come a long way.
It all started when Maharaja Shri Dungar Singh, Raja of Bikaner demanded that he taste something new apart from all the regular namkeen. This is when the Halwai of Bikaner produced the very first batch of Bikaner Bhujia in 1877. He was so amazed by the taste of Bhujia that he ordered the Halwai to never let the secret recipe out. Early in 20th century, young Ganga Bhishan Agarwal, gained a reputation for making the best Bhujia in the town, now known as Haldiram. Haldiram turned local snack into a national product, focusing on customer centricity, product quality, packaging, and branding when such concepts were unheard of.
Being the cottage industry of Bikaner, Bhujia provides employment to around 2.5 million people in and around villages of the region. Recently facing the competition with Indian snacks and namkeen companies, which have used the name Bhujia, in September 2010, the Indian patent office confirmed the geographical indication rights, and now only local manufacturers from Bikaner can use the name Bikaneri Bhujia.
Bhujia is so versatile that it is used as fillings in Kaathi Rolls, Frankies, Sandwiches and even Puffs. Apart from this Bhujia is also used as toppings in Sev Puri, Bhel Puri, Poha and goes along with a lot of street foods. Talk about a trip or a journey where you need to pack your tiffin? Bhujia goes everywhere with you. Train travels are incomplete without people sharing Bhujia while making small talks. From being served as a namkeen in festivals to being used as a chakhna with the drinks during heartbreaks and celebrations, Bhujia resides in billions of hearts across the world today.