27 January, 2020
Many of you might have heard about Bareilly Ki Barfi, the movie that was a big hit; but here we are going to talk about Chandigarh Ki Barfi. And this barfi is from none other than a 94-year-old grandma! Incredibly, Harbhajan Kaur, started her barfi business, ‘Harbhajan’s’, at the ripe young age of 90 J Truly her story is an all those age-related myths defying one. At 90 one would expect most people to put up their feet and relax and enjoy the remaining years of life in peace. But here is this grandma, who turned entrepreneur and that too, with flair, stumping many people.
Especially because of social media, suddenly there was a buzz around her and her story, and there were many of Twitter, including the likes of Anand Mahindra who tweeted about her. And amazingly, he mentioned that she was the entrepreneur of the year for him.
It was Harbhajan’s daughter, Raveena Suri, who urged her to start her business, based on a conversation she had with her mum. Harbhajan had expressed that she had not earned a single penny all her life; this prompted her daughter to suggest that she should put her excellent cooking skills to good use and perhaps start selling her ‘wares’.
Harbhajan dwelled on her daughter’s advice and soon set up her own shop in a local organic market, and sold her besan ki barfi, which still today remains a specialty item of hers. That was the first time she had earned something, but she did a good job interacting with people and came home with Rs. 2000. It was her first moment of achievement and satisfaction and pride.
From there, in many ways, there was no looking back, and she launched her brand ‘Harbhajan’s’, which sells various pickles, chutneys and of course the hit item of besan ki barfi. She takes these products to the organic market nearby every Wednesday. Raveena helps her mom with the branding and packaging and has come up with the tagline, bachpan yaad aayegi. Truly, since the venture started with her daughter’s belief in her mom’s cooking skills which were a lovely part of her own growing up years, it is something that could resonate with many others.
Currently, Harbhajan is making around 5-10 kg of barfi in one go and over the years had sold around 500kg of barfi! They are pacing the orders so that she does not get tired, even though Harbhajan is happy to work, and all enthusiastic about her newfound status. She insists on working on the orders by herself and starts the process quite early in the day. The ingredients, ghee, flour, sugar, and almonds are all organically sourced and then the barfi is made by slow-cooking these in brass utensils. Even the melon seeds used are painstakingly peeled by her as she watches TV.
She even made 200kg of barfi for her granddaughter’s wedding, as her granddaughter insisted on Nani's sweets. Today, people can place an order for Harbhajan’s by calling them, or it is also available in one or two shops in Sector 35 and Sector 7. She comes most Wednesdays to the organic market adjacent to Coveda School in Sector 18. If you are in Chandigarh, you surely must try out Harbhajan’s besan ki barfi. Harbhajan Kaur says the recipe is one that she inherited from her father and firmly believes that age is no bar and one had to evolve throughout life.
Harbhajan’s is also planning to add more items to their fare and is well in its way to prove what Anand Mahindra tweeted about her. But for many of us, there is an incredible life lesson to be learned from the story of Harbhajan Kaur. It is about: believing in self, never using age an excuse to not do something or start something new, and believing in one’s own skills. Perhaps there is an entrepreneur in each one of us who is just waiting to come out.
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