Celebrations in Hyderabad would be incomplete without sharing traditional sweets and namkeen from Dadu’s. It is one of the most sought-after sweets and namkeen shop for a couple of decades now. With time, the motichoor laddus made with pure ghee, assorted sweets and kaju katlis made space for new age desserts like the artisanal dry fruit sweets and Turkish delights wrapped in festive dabbas designed for the season. It is no exaggeration to say that the city doesn’t need much of an introduction to Dadu’s.
After two outlets and several years in the business, Dadu’s expanded into fine dining very recently. In 2019 the first two outlets of Masala Republic started bringing in the choicest of dishes, curated from global cuisines and presented with style and elegance. Without compromising on taste Masala Republic brought together local elements and global style of cooking served in an elegant ambience. And, the expansive menu is one of the few exclusively vegetarian ones.

The story of Dadu’s goes back to Rajesh Dadu, when he first opened ‘Dadu’s Mithai Vatika’ at Himayat Nagar with a small shop in 1993. Now he is joined by his daughter Mukaan Dadu, who is equipped with Masters in Hospitality Administration / Management from Switzerland, and a life time of living and growing with the brand.

Muskaan Dadu brings a certain vibe to the traditional sector, and the much-needed new ideas. She shares with Provoke Lifestyle her experiences and plans, as a young entrepreneur and a woman in a male dominated business.
Excerpts from an interview:

Can you share your experiences of growing up with Dadu’s?
Growing up that’s all that I can remember. When I was born Dadus was already there, and quite established at that. As far as the way it affected me – well, by then we had two branches, and when I came back from school, the bus stop was very close to the Himayatnagar, and I would always end up there. Eating desserts for lunch was very normal to me; integral part of my diet. Even at home when something important happens we eat meetha, and this habit continued when I was abroad staying with friends. Any good news I would advocate celebrating it with something sweet even if its chocolate or some of the sweets I carried from home.

When did you first begin to take interest in business?
Every weekend or summer break you would find me at Dadus. It was so close to home and both my parents have been in business so I would often end up at office. Even a family event would be discussed at office. And, then packaging caught my interest followed by marketing. It was also an easy department to enter. Eventually I was also dealing with a few clients on my own, and preparing proposals for them. And, it was important for me to understand the cost of production, to know how much profits we were making, which is when I started looking into the real challenge of linking every department, checking the stock, cost of raw material that we have versus what you buy, and what is the margin – in short, the messier part of business (laughs)

When I was getting into the University, I told my father that my intention is to get into the business, and if it was not for that then there was no reason why I must spend so much time and money on a course in Switzerland. He knew I was serious about it. Even when I was there, he would include me the zoom meetings. When I came back for a break, we had opened two back-to-back branches of Masala Republic. Now that I am back my father is more relaxed and we are now engrossed in how we can make everything better.

So, what are your plans?
We are coming up with a factory, which will help sus scale up the business. My cousin has Dadus in Pune, and Bangalore is the first sweet shop started by my family. It’s called Anand Sweets. Except for these two cities we hope to expand to other cities. But firstly, in Hyderabad itself there are so many new upcoming areas that are good for business – Kokapet, Kompally, LB Nagar – we will also be opening our branches in the Tier 2 cities like Warangal, Karimnagar, Visakhapatnam. We have the model! We just have to find the properties and copy paste the model. Once the factory is ready there is no looking back.

As far as Masala Republic is concerned. ii is a new brand that we have fun with. It is started with a purpose to give more variety to the vegetarian diners. There is a need for such a place, and the understanding comes from my growing years as a vegetarian when I wanted to go out and eat, and the choice would be so limited. If a family of eight comes, they must each be able to order a different dish, share and enjoy their outing. The expansion will happen may be when we get serious with it.

Do you realise that you are perhaps the only woman in the business?
Hospitality is more evolved and a lot of women are running good concepts, but our core is Dadus. In sweets and namkeen sector I am the only woman, and I don’t think the sector has yet evolved enough to accept that a woman can be in this position, for good. I did not have any bad experience as such, but when I go to meeting and conferences, I realise that everyone thinks I am here temporarily. I just think that if I stay long enough, that’s going to prove my point.

What about your other siblings?
I have two sisters and a brother, who are younger to me. Brother is still in high school and he wants to study food technology, and one of my sisters is Business Administration and the other is studying Management with Economics from St Andrews in Scotland. We are all keen to eventually contribute to family business. It is a very tight knit thing we have. It’s also our last name, so it’s about family, not just business.