The festive season is upon us, and nowhere is this more evident than in the bustling Pacific Mall in Pitampura, Delhi, which I visited earlier this week. Festivities aside, the reason for my visit was attending the launch of the US Cranberries x Haldiram’s special menu offering delicious Chaat dishes and mouth-watering Mithais made with one distinctive ingredient – US Cranberries. We were promised an afternoon of fun, food and friends, and this claim certainly held true.
“I just love the Cranberry infused Dahi Bhalla Papdi Chaat. The Cranberry Dahi is so good that I can keep having it repeatedly!” exclaims Gurpreet Singh Tikku, popular food blogger and founder of Mister Tikku, a content creation and events company. He has been associated with the brand US Cranberries since the year 2018, and in his inimitable style has increased awareness of this American superfood among the Indian masses.
Cranberries are known to be high in nutrients and antioxidants. As ingredients that can easily be consumed in their original form, in a sauce, as a juice, or added to stuffing, casseroles, or dessert, they are popular for being adaptable and versatile. Their unique sweet-tangy taste and gritty texture further adds to their charm. Cranberries are native to North America and research has linked the nutrients in cranberries to lowering the risk of urinary tract infections, preventing certain types of cancer, improving immune functions, and decreasing blood pressure.
Sumit Saran of SS Associates, the company that represents multiple foreign companies in India including US Cranberries, was also at the event. He clarified, “We don’t trade, we only represent and work towards increasing awareness of these products. We represent dried products like US Cranberries as well as fresh products. India is becoming one of the biggest markets for these imports, and cranberries have seen a tremendous growth rate since they were introduced here a few years ago. It is easy to fuse cranberries with Indian ethnic foods like Khandvis, Tikkis, and Vadas for example.”
So why exactly do people in India love cranberries? Saran puts it down to three distinctive reasons. The first of these is the growing awareness of health and nutrition in the market. Cranberries are the number one source of antioxidants in the world and people are keen to incorporate them into their diets. Secondly, the red colour of this fruit fits well with the Indian celebratory ethos, whether for personal use or for the purpose of gifting. Finally, he points out that dried cranberries are shelf staple products, and don’t require refrigeration. They are therefore quite cost effective, as you get a huge quantity in one kilo, which can then be used over a long period of time.
Cranberries in general, and US Cranberries in particular, are certainly a popular item but how do they align with India’s favourite street food brand, Haldiram’s? “I think two geographies coming together is a great initiative. These days people are talking about health above all else, and cranberries are a premium health product. At Haldiram’s, we are happy to see the incredible response to these unique dishes. Some of these dishes are priced a bit higher than others on our regular menu, but despite that people are really enjoying them,” says Rouble Sukhija, Senior Vice President at Haldiram’s, who handles innovations, supply chain and people training.
When asked to point out her personal favourite dish from the special menu, she shares that each one is close to her heart, but she enjoys the Cranberry Gujia the most, as it is unique from other types of Gujias which don’t offer the tanginess and texture that the cranberry adds as a filling inside it.
For Saran, US Cranberries and Haldiram’s were a match made in heaven. As he has personally always loved Haldiram’s, he was keen on the idea of fusing its staple dishes with the uniqueness of cranberries. Sticking to its promise of offering only the best, Haldiram’s underwent numerous trials before finalising the items that would incorporate cranberries. They began by introducing it into their mithai last year, and this year, they have ventured into the chatpati chaats. This ingredient especially makes an easy alternative to pomegranate seeds, which are seasonal and difficult to transport as compared to dried cranberries.
Apart from the assiduous team at Haldiram’s, Saran also applauds Mister Tikku calling him ‘brilliant’. He shares, “Apart from his demeanour which is always cheerful, happy, and fun loving, Mister Tikku is very serious about the product. Before endorsing it, he spends a lot of time and energy in understanding the product, and really needs to be convinced of its merits. I appreciate that work ethic, and the willingness to do his homework, so people will trust his judgement.”
He is echoed by Sukhija, who says, “Mister Tikku is very energetic. He is the one who came up with this fun launch event idea. The first initiative was of course by Mr Madhusudan who earlier collaborated with US Cranberries on the sweets. An experimentation with chaat and savoury snacks this year has been very interesting and well-received. Currently these dishes are not permanent, but once the Navratri’s are over, we will sit down and evaluate the impact of this festival. A couple of items on the special menu have shown promising sales figures, like the Khandvi, Dahi Bhalla, Gujia, etc. and so we hope to restart the festival around Diwali time and might make some of the items permanent in the long run as well. All this is currently under discussion, and a lot will depend on sales figures, customer feedback etc.”
A fellow attendee at the launch event, Pavneet Kaur Sachdeva, who is a PR and Marketing professional shares with candour, “Haldiram’s is a mass product and US Cranberries wants to reach the masses, so it’s an overall good move. Chaat is everyone’s favourite dish, and this one-of-a-kind collaboration is too good. Their cranberry yogurt is an interesting concoction, but my favourite dishes are the Bhalla chaat, and the Dry Fruit and Chocolate Cranberry Mithai – it’s just delicious!”
If you are also keen to test out these cranberry infused Haldiram’s goodies, check out the US Cranberries Chaat and Mithai festival at Haldiram’s outlets over the next few days. Mister Tikku summarises, “Seeing the amount of love the festival has gotten, we believe that some of the dishes will find a permanent place in the menu of Haldiram’s and then extend beyond NCR too.” Let’s hope his prediction rings true.
Noor Anand Chawla pens lifestyle articles for various publications and her blog www.nooranandchawla.com.