City anchor: Cook of VIPs, a school dropout earns his Guinness moment
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Fifty-two-year old Babu Maharaj alias Babulal Indoriya was instrumental in making the "largest serving of laddoos" for the Poona Merchants Chamber in November, a feat that last week found a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.
The cook is not new to his being recognised. His delicacies have found fans among VIPs and film artistes. Former chief minister and Union minister, the late Vilasrao Deshmukh, was a great fan of his cooking and relished, in particular, his 'puri-bhaji'.
But the Class III dropout realises the importance of being part of a Guinness feat and is excited and content that his hard work over the past three decades has not gone in vain.
"I am a Class III dropout. However, I am well aware of playing a part for a Guinness Record. I am waiting to go back to my native place in Rajasthan where relatives and other villagers have planned a grand welcome for me," he said.
The serving of 401.8 kg laddoos by the Poona Merchants Chamber, a local merchants body, surpassed the previous world record of 200 kg in November, and received official recognition from Guinness recently.
Babu Maharaj, who has been associated with 'Chiwda-laddoo' project since its inception more than a decade ago, was the chief architect of the Guinness effort and had a team of 43 male and female workers to assist him.
"I was hardly 14 when I came to Pune and since then I have devoted myself to this profession. It was more than thrilling to be part of this feat and the idea to attempt world record was a challenge," said the cook who made the mission possible.
Babu Maharaj told Newsline on Thursday that he used around 239 kg sugar, 107 kg besan (gram flour), 75 kg ghee and other essential ingredients for making the largest serving of ladoos and around 5,680 were sold during Diwali.
Babu Maharaj, who takes catering orders for wedding functions and other celebrations, is a favourite chef with many noted personalities, including high-profile politicians and artistes.
"Late chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh enjoyed my delicacies, especially 'puri-bhaji'. I was also the head cook during the recent wedding function of Forest Minister Patangrao Kadam. Many film artistes have given me a call when any celebration is planned at their homes," he said, adding that even the Guinness crew relished his delicacies.
Describing Babu Maharaj as honest and hard-working, Poona Merchant's Chamber president Ajit Setiya said the cook had a major role in helping them achieve the feat.