The Humble Bhujia Has Royal Origins
By MANISH AGGARWAL
NEW DELHI, (IANS) – The modest bhujia has long been a ridiculously well-liked food option in India.
It has been a constant in Indian eating habits, whether it is for breakfast in the morning when combined with tea, for a quick break from work in the afternoon, or as a night-time snack.
That bhujia is frequently used as a crucial garnishing for foods and preparations in our everyday eating customs and culture.
However, few people are aware that the humble bhujia did not actually have low beginnings. Instead, it is thought to have royal origins according to most accounts, including popular history.
According to legend, in 1877, Maharaja Dungar Singh of the then-princely state of Bikaner was the one who first had this delicious savory made for his guests. The Maharaja and his guests were served the snack, and to everyone’s pleasure, they couldn’t help but keep asking for more and more of the item they had just tried for the first time in their lives. The besan or gram-flour-based snack, which was golden yellow in color and spiced with a variety of herbs and seasonings, delighted the royal palates of Bikaner.
But that was only the start. The freshly created savory, which was crispy, crunchy, and utterly irresistible, quickly made its way from the royal kitchen and nobility’s homes to the homes of commoners and families, becoming a culinary craze in Bikaner and elsewhere. The raging popularity of this savory quickly attracted small businesses, food adventurers, and entrepreneurs – even before the word “entrepreneur” became fashionable in India – who turned this obsession into formal business outlets.
In due course, bhujia came to be one of the most constant and staple offerings of countless street food vendors and established stores and stalls.
By the turn of the century, a significant number of small, localized players had appeared in Bikaner and even further afield in Rajasthan, advancing bhujia as a core product as a part of their larger basket of offerings.
Around the middle of the 20th century, a few famous family-owned food companies were established, using bhujia and its variations as their main product to capitalize on the snack’s enduring and unwavering popularity. These family-owned companies and their numerous offshoots have developed into prominent ethnic food brands with a presence both domestically and abroad.
To join the trend, several multinational corporations have developed their own versions of bhujia and related savories over the past few decades.
Unlike the open and loose forms that were previously distributed, the introduction of contemporary and designer packaging has increased the shelf life while also giving bhujias their own unique identity. Different types and variations of bhujia have developed over time based on the primary ingredients used to make them.
It is not surprising that bhujia now accounts for over 15 percent of the Indian savory industry. At the same time, locally produced bhujias coexist with their branded equivalents.
Even as we gorge on recent spinoffs like aloo bhujia, paneer bhujia, and maggibhujia, wait for more versions….