Hyderabad: Treasured in the bylanes of Noor Khan Bazar in the old city, is an age-old recipe of a sweet that has been passed down to four generations of daughter-in-laws.
Badam ki jali, the sweet that was made on special occasions in the Hussaini household, became the portal of empowerment, societal recognition, and financial independence for the women in that family.
The story of this almond-based sweet dates back several years. A 79-year-old Nafees Hussaini who put down the roots for Imperial Sweet House, says the recipe originates from Madras. “When my mother-in-law got married and came here, she brought this recipe with her. For all special occasions in our extended family, this sweet was made. I learnt it from her, “she says.
In 1964, it was Nafees who started taking small orders for the sweets and built a business around them, which was later taken over by her daughter-in-law, the late Nasreen Hussaini, who modernised the cooking methods and expanded the business.
Today, along with Badam ki jali, made only by using almonds and sugar, they also sell other sweets like Puran Poli and Badam ki laus. Another popular sweet that they make is Ashrafi, made by pressing the dough between two ancient Persian coins that leave their impression on the yellow-coloured sweet.
Recalling the old days, Nafees says, “there were times when we made sweets all night. We used to sit in front of a TV, watch movies, and just keep rolling the dough, cutting the sweets, and making thousands of them in a single night. We had to do everything by hand back then, but now we have mixers and ovens. And in all of this, my constant support was my husband, S.M.Hussaini, who used to deliver my sweets on a cycle.”
The mantle has now been passed on to her granddaughter-in-law, Aisha Jahan, who is an engineering graduate but chose to continue the legacy and took over the business after the sudden demise of Nasreen. Keeping up with the modern times, she introduced their business on social media platforms.
“We make the traditional flower and diamond-shaped ones and also some unique and quirky ones to match the modern times,” says Aisha, adding that they have special designs for baby showers, birthdays, and other occasions. They once also made one with a Pub-G theme.
The women of the Hussaini family deliver sweets all over the world for Eid, Diwali, and other festive occasions. They say that it’s a celebration in somebody else’s house but the ‘asli raunak’ is in their kitchen.
According to them, their sweets have been tasted and appreciated by actor Dia Mirza who ordered them for her wedding, industrialist Aditya Birla, and Sonia Gandhi among other noted personalities.