Legacy Lores: Asha Sweet Center makes its ‘sweet’ presence for 72 years

For 7 decades, Bengaluru's Asha Sweet Center has attracted loyal patrons to its diverse flavours, by ensuring quality and consistency.

ByShailaja Tripathi

Published Jul 31, 2023 | 6:30 PMUpdatedJul 31, 2023 | 6:58 PM

Asha Sweets was born in 1951 with two sweet offerings— Balushahi and Boondi Ladoo

“It’s crispy and fresh like nowhere else,” beams Anushka Sharma. She was recently at 8th Cross in Malleshwaram with her daughter when the duo couldn’t resist hopping over to their favourite store and surrendering their senses to a plate of freshly-cooked onion kachori and a glass of badam milk.

Sharma is one of the many thousands of customers at arguably one of the best sweet shops in Bengaluru —Asha Sweet Center — whose story spells their loyalty to the brand.

It was in 1951, in a quiet bylane of Malleshwaram, when a dream unravelled itself as the Malleshwaram Sweetmeat Stall. The inception was modest, but the store’s journey is one of sweet transformation.

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A ‘sweet’ resolve

Asha Sweets Center was started in Malleshwaram in 1951.

Asha Sweet Center was set up by sri Kantha Prasadji Garg. (Supplied)

Back then, the late Sri Kantha Prasadji Garg, a zealous young man from Mathura, with an agricultural background, arrived in Bengaluru to work at a local shop for a year. A witness to the opportunities that surrounded him, he resolved to set up his own independent business.

It was a matter of time before Garg made that possibility a reality. He birthed Asha Sweets and started with two sweet offerings.

Balushahi (a North Indian donut-shaped sweet, coated in sugar syrup), and boondi ladoo (besan or chickpea flour pearls bound together into a ladoo).

Being one of the oldest and most thriving shopping destinations, Malleshwaram drew a lot of shoppers. Soon, Asha Sweets established itself as the go-to spot for those who wanted to unwind from their shopping expeditions. A mouthful of a crisp samosa and a glass of cool badam milk from Asha Sweets was enough to re-energise them.

As years passed by, demand multiplied and Garg experimented with regional sweets like Mysore Pak. He also mastered the making of kheer kadam — a traditional Bengali sweet. He hit the jackpot with these two and customers found ample excitement and reasons to visit the store.

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Passing the baton of taste

Following his success, Garg’s son Narendra Kumar Garg joined the business in 1971. Eventually, with his sensibilities and offerings, their popularity surged. Narendra renamed the store as Asha Sweet Center.

Badam Milk was introduced by Narendra Kumar Garg as their signature drink.

Badam milk was introduced by Narendra Kumar Garg as their signature drink. (Supplied)

“It was actually my father’s idea to introduce badam milk after realising that the store needs a signature drink. He said that customers should come here for something special after noticing that aerated drinks were fast-moving,” recalls Mayur, Narendra’s son and the third generation of the family managing the business.

Soon, they diversified the business and opened a bakery in 2010 that sold eggless cakes and cupcakes. This set the cash registers ringing further, adds Mayur.

Fervour for flavours

The shop was and continues to be a haven of confectionery wonders for its patrons. Many customers vouch that the brand has lived up to their expectations even with the changing times and palates.

Their mantra was simple — consistency of quality and retention of loyal vendors.

“These two are interlinked. To this date, we have retained the vendors from whom we buy our ingredients. Ghee is the most important ingredient and we have never compromised on its quality by ensuring that we have the same vendors from the days of my grandfather,” says Mayur.


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Mayur’s apprenticeship began during his college days. Every day, after college, Mayur would be at the shop by 2 pm to learn the tricks of the trade.

“That was the rule. I used to come to the shop with my grandfather. I observed that he was a social person and made everyone feel at home,” reminisces Mayur.

Perhaps it is safe to say that the genes have been passed on successfully. For many customers, Asha Sweet Center is an adda, a meet-up place to chit-chat or reminisce about the old days over a plate of samosa.

“Every day you’ll find the old boys’ gang hanging out at the joint,” informs Mayur.

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Leaning towards loyalty

Families too have pledged loyalty. Subrata Bannerjee, 48, has been a returning customer for 20 years.

“As Bengalis, we love sweets. We feel Asha Sweet Center makes sweets better than the ones we get in Kolkata. According to my kid, everything pales in comparison to Asha’s rasgulla or kheer kadam,” shares Bannerjee.

Loyal customers vouch for the samosa and onion kachori at Asha Sweet Center.

Loyal customers vouch for the samosas and onion kachoris at Asha Sweet Center. (Supplied)

Moreover, the brand has carved a niche for itself among actors and several influential families too. The late Parvathamma Rajkumar, wife of the famous producer and iconic actor late Dr Rajkumar, had a sweet tooth for Asha’s badam milk and badam pista ladoo, he shares.

Bollywood actor Ranveer Singh, we are told, is always offered the traditional Karnataka dessert chiroti with badam milk from the store when he visits his in-laws in Bengaluru.

Impressed by the store’s offerings, Singh introduced his followers to another classic Karnataka dessert, chiroti halu, on one of his Instagram stories.

He posted a photo of a glass of cold badam milk from the store and tagged it as “Chiroti halu Mmmm”. Chiroti is a dessert composed of a crispy pastry-like dish made with sugar, ghee, semolina, and all-purpose flour.

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Making a mark

In its 72-year journey, Asha Sweets has accomplished numerous milestones. The brand opened outlets in Rajaji Nagar, Magadi Road, Gandhi Bazaar, Sahakara Nagar, Rajarajeshwari Nagar, and Indira Nagar, to name a few. It has 13 sweet outlets and two restaurants known as Asha Food Camp.

With the festive season upon us, Asha Sweet Center is diving head first into experimenting with flavours. For instance, for Raksha Bandhan, Mayur and his team are working on hazelnut-flavour ghevar.

“As there is a festival every month, in India, we frequently come up with innovative flavours. Through these new combinations, we engage with today’s youth. During Diwali, we often introduce new varieties of baklava and make sweets using dehydrated fruits, chia seeds, flax seeds, and pumpkin seeds,” details Mayur.

Even as Mayur looks to expand, he finds logic in his parents’ advice.

“Mindless expansion has never been a priority for my forefathers. What they emphasised was quality and retaining the old staff. That’s why our badam milk, kheer kadam, champa kali, and Mysore pak still taste the same,” explains Mayur.

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Blending into the instant world

Currently, Asha Sweets has 700 employees on their payroll, including women and the differently-abled as well. While the brand is not prominent on social media, Covid-19 taught them the importance of being on the digital platform. Ergo, they are now on all online delivery apps.

“I think it was the credibility and trust factor that saw us through during Covid,” notes Mayur.

Plans are afoot to open 10 outlets in the next 10 years. He also hopes to start their brand of frozen wheat parathas and samosas soon.

At a time when instant delivery seems like a viable option, that many people continue to remain patrons of this flesh-and-blood store is success in its own right.

Location: Address No.131, 8th Cross, Sampige Road, Malleshwaram, Bengaluru – 560003

Phone: 8792528066

Hot sellers: Badam milk, eggless cakes, kheer kadam, balushahi, samosa

(Legacy Lores is a series of stories that trace the life and times of homegrown brands across South India. If you’d like your story to be featured, please write to ramaramanan@thesouthfirst.com.)