From cool winds whistling among the deodars of Shimla to the summery breeze swaying the palm fronds in Goa, it has been quite a journey for Bhawna Sood Kumar, owner of Manधड़न Creations. This eclectic culinary brand bottles up deliciousness in its glass jars!
The range of tastes that tempts your palate is drool-worthy. From sugar-free Peanut Butter, Sundried tomatoes in olive oil, Pesto Sauce, and Sushi ginger to Kinnu and Orange Marmalade and Jamun, Mulberry, Apple, and Strawberry preserves. My mind reeled from imagining the bursts of flavours on my tongue as these names smoothly rolled off hers!
And she wasn’t done enlightening me with the sheer variety on offer yet. As a sure shot natural remedy for indigestion and nausea, concoctions created by her mother are some uniquely herbed salts and masala salts too. Some in a super hot variety with names like ‘High Voltage Chamba Chukh!
The delightfully unusual monikers continue in Manधड़न range of pickles. Fiddlehead Fern pickle anyone? Or take a pick of her popular pickles like Hill Lime, Oil-Free, Raw Turmeric n Chilli, Chicken, Mushroom, multiple varieties of mango pickles, and more uniquely flavoured smokey pickles.
By now thoroughly bowled over by the palate-pleasing menu of dips, preserves, chutneys and pickles, I wondered how this saga began for someone who started out, in her own words “ as a mountain girl at heart and then became a gypsy by choice as a wife of a senior doctor in the Indian Army.”
Interestingly Bhawna’s foray into food started out as something else altogether. She narrates, “I painted some Buddha statuettes, lanterns, diyas etc as gifts for family and friends and was still left with a sizable amount of them. Diwali was around the corner so I participated in a pop-up market and the appreciation received was overwhelming”.
Wanting to take part in more such events but having a culinary bent of mind, Bhawna bottled a few jars of pickles and chutneys inspired by my mother’s recipes and some of her own experiments in the kitchen, thus creating a few new flavours that were hitherto unavailable. The response at pop-ups and flea markets was once again encouraging.
And that is how Manधड़न was born. The quaint name also has a sweet story behind it. “When my daughter was a little girl she would insist on saying “Manधड़न or manndharhan “and not the actual hindi word “मनगढ़त or mannghadat which means something made-up, or concocted out of imagination. Even after she grew up she would insist on using the mispronounced word when she actually meant मनगढ़त ! So I named my brand after a little piece of my daughter’s childhood and this way introduced the world to a nostalgic made-up name about something made up!” she smiles fondly at the memory. She is also quick to add that her brands are truly Manधड़न, a bit made up out of imagination and nostalgia about her mountain days, which incidentally explains why her two categories of products are called Himalayan Legacy and Shimla’s Bounty.
I discovered to my delight, that Bhawna’s offerings are healthy without compromising on taste. “Who says pickles, dips, and fruit preserves cannot be healthy too? It’s what goes into it that counts” she asserts firmly.
Her savoury products contain only Himalayan Pink Salt and no refined salt is used in any of the products. The sugar-free items have organic honey and most of the other products have jaggery in them. No artificial colours, essence or preservatives are used in any of the products.
When she revealed that she also dabbles in products made with spirits, mine lifted immediately! On her menu are Cointreau, Creame and non Creame Coffee liqueurs which are customised according to your palate. Infused Vodka, Rum and Goa’s very own local tipple, Uraak, all sound delightfully boozy and likely to be a hit at any party.
With the popularity of Manधड़न and so much to be thankful for, Bhawna does not forget to give back. Devastated by losing her father to cancer Bhawna decided to help others affected by this disease too.
“ I regularly donate part of my proceeds of Manधड़न to the canteen of a cancer hospital called Almighty Blessings based in Shimla where they provide free meals to patients and their attendants.”
She also financially supports a friend’s effort in Chandigarh with rescue dogs and animals while here in Goa she prepares a big vat of food everyday for hungry stray dogs and cows. She also reaches out in any way she can to those displaced by natural calamities like floods besides sponsoring gifts at deserving events. Suitably impressed by both the woman and her brand, as a parting query I ask about her future plans.
“ Right now I do send products outside Goa too as Manधड़न always was and is a pan India dream. Currently, I’m focusing on Goa more as I also plan on opening a restaurant not far in the future with the help of my family who has been extremely supportive and without whom I couldn’t have made it this far”, she acknowledges.
Manधड़न has more than 70 products and you can order from Bhawna who operates from Panjim. Call/WhatsApp on 9370527324 & 9733362000 or email at [email protected] and
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By Laila Fathims
Images By Bhawna Sood Kumar