Pheni: How this north Indian delicacy became an essential part of Hyderabadi Diwali

Among the motichoor, kaju katli, and soan papdi is Pheni, a specialty of the Telugu states, particularly Hyderabad.

By Sumavarsha kandula  Published on  24 Oct 2022 2:30 AM GMT
Pheni: How this north Indian delicacy became an essential part of Hyderabadi Diwali

Hyderabad: Diwali is just around the corner, and the city is buzzing with excitement. The festival of lights is celebrated in a variety of ways in Hyderabad. Some perform Laxmi puja, others decorate their homes, and many enjoy bursting crackers. One thing they all have in common is good food, especially sweets.

Among the motichoor, kaju katli, and soan papdi is Pheni, a specialty of the Telugu states, particularly Hyderabad.

It's a semiyan delicacy that goes well with warm milk, sugar, and a generous topping of dry fruits.

NewsMeter went to Begum Bazar to meet the sweet shop owners and consumers of this delicacy to see how this predominantly Rajasthani dessert became a household tradition during Diwali in Hyderabad.

"To speak about Pheni's history, it might have been almost 50 years since people here have included this in their Diwali. Like Raj Bhog and Bhujiya, this has also come from Rajasthan. Pheni is mainly eaten during Dhanteras and is put as an offering to the god," says Manish, who owns the 90-year-old Satyanarayanan sweet shop in Begum Bazar.

He tells how the sweet has traveled down to India. "People from Rajasthan who came here to work or set up businesses started making this dish, and that might be how the dish was inculcated into the Telugu states' traditions."

He adds, "We make the dish in either ghee or dalda and then dry it so that the Pheni can be stored for about a month."

Baskets of Pheni were set up outside their stores for wholesale and to sell to individual customers.


When asked about the sales pre and post-pandemic, he says, "Sales dipped during the pandemic, but now slowly they are getting back to normal."

Another shop owner across the street has a different experience with sales. "There haven't been many sales this year. It has become a quarter of what we used to sell," he says.

When asked if this is linked to the pandemic, he is unsure. "It's just not Covid. People are facing economic hardships. They don't have money to spend during the festivals. Getting through the bare minimum has become tough," he explains.

"Lights, crackers, and Pheni are essential for Deepavali," says Madhu, who has come for Diwali shopping.

Poonam shares her memories of the sweet. "Pheni has been a must on Diwali mornings for as long as I remember. Being such a simple dish to make, it is all the more my favorite," she says.

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