If we had the nomination for best bhel my award would go to Mr. Mohan Bhelwala straight from M.G Road, Pune, India. I have to admit I look forward to eating the bhel more than visiting my family. The street MG Road in Pune, is always buzzing, be it with lawyers, local shop owners, or tourists from different cities. Right amidst that human circus is a quaint stall that serves delicious bhel to everyone. He is renowned for his mouth watering bhel, great smile and humble personality. Mr. Mohan talks about his eduaction, middle class family struggles, and his passion for making his customers truly satisfied.
When did you start making bhel and why?
I started this business back in 1995 on M.G Road, Camp. My older brother tried his luck in the bhel business back in the days, and it was quite successful. He was the one who taught me to make bhel and I took over after he retired.
Where did you go to school?
I went to school in Pune and was able to study up to 6th grade. However, due to monetary challenges, I had to pull breaks on learning and start helping my brother out at the bhel stall. I didn’t know that I wouldn’t be able to finish school so I work hard everyday towards making sure my children don’t go through the same and they are in school and finish the education.
Tell us about your parents?
My father was a farmer in a village close to Pune. He would come home very late after work so my memories with him are faint and few, My mother was a housewife. She performed all the chores and played a significant role in raising us. .
Tell us about your family. Do you have a favorite dish that your wife makes?
My father passed away a few years ago after which my mother moved in with us (My wife and I). My wife is a home-maker who looks after our children who are in the 4th grade and 6th grade. I usually spend the first half of the day with my family since I’m at work after my children get back home from school. We have conversations and enjoy each others’ company over a cup of tea and breakfast. My favorite dish is my wife’s home-made Besan and Chapati. It is mouthwatering!
How do you set up your bhel stall everyday?
Every morning, I spend 2 hours at the local food market (in Chandan Nagar) and buy my vegetables from there. Here, I handpick fresh, good quality vegetables and get them at a reasonable price. I then spend around 45 minutes chopping and preparing the required ingredients. I sell bhel every afternoon from 4.30pm to 9.30pm.
What is the cost of one plate bhel and how many do you sell everyday?
I usually sell between 70 and 90 bhels every day for Rs 40 each. My prime selling time is on the weekends. There is also a lot of rush during festivals like Diwali and Christmas when people are out to celebrate and shop.
How is your relationship with your customers?
I have a lot of loyal customers who come at least once in 2 days. I meet so many people, sometimes it is difficult to keep track. An interesting part about my job is that I get to interact with different kinds of people on an everyday basis. I make sure each customer leaves happy and satisfied.
How do you like your Bhel?
I love my Bhel spicy with extra green chilies.
We are going to post this interview on our blog and Instagram. How do you feel?
I feel very thankful and a little surprised since no one has approached me like this before. Coming from a small town where no one really appreciates us, I am happy and grateful to see that people like my bhel and want me to be known.