Rewri of Rohtak is known and famous for its distinct flavor and crispness. Rewri is a sweet delicacy made from Gur (jaggery) and Til (gingili). The reputation of Rohtak's rewri has crossed not only Haryana's borders but also reached the markets in Europe and the Middle East. Rewri of Rohtak was made famous by Jamini, a Muslim halwai, who had a shop at Barra Bazaar during pre-Partition days. It is said that rewri came into existence in the later Mughal period. Jamini's legacy has now assumed the status of a flourishing cottage industry in Rohtak. In winter months people of North India enjoy eating the crispy rewri and gajjak products. Most households buy it as a ‘seasonal delicacy’ for self consumption and also for gifting it to distant relations.
In the alleys of Kewalganj and adjoining markets of Rohtak, one can see skilled workers making various forms of rewri and gajjak in over hundred workshop-cum-retail outlets. Manufacturing is done almost daily. It starts around Diwali, steps up during the winter, peaks around Makar Sankranti and Lohri and declines gradually towards Holi.
Rewri manufacturing takes place only in winter. When the ambient temperature in the workshop ranges between 10°C to 26°C, the crystal forming process of the products is perfect. In fact, it is the size and quantity of the sugar crystals in the finished product which are determining factors of its crispness and ‘particular taste’. The taste is particular to some of the manufacturers. Only the short length crystals make the rewri products crispy and easily melting in the mouth. Not all can manufacture crisp or khasta rewris and gajjak. The duration of goading and beating, the temperature and viscosity of the sugar paste, the pulling of the lump, and the timing of the stage of mixing and pressing of til onto it are the determining factors of the quality. Above it, the foremost is perseverance and honesty to desist adulteration.
In early seventies, some innovations in manufacturing practice became visible. The platter shape of rewri was squeezed to become button-shaped. Gajjakpatti was pressed in a couple of ways. Sales picked up as more people joined the trade. Skilled workforce in this trade traditionally comes from the local Saini community.
Rewri manufacturing got a quantum leap only around mid seventies when half a dozen variants were introduced by adding natural flavors and using dry fruits and nuts as additives. Apart from original rewris, items like stuffed rolls of various shapes and styles and simple and pista gajjakpattis are offered to customers. The principle ingredients in these products are gur and til.
The total production of rewri in Rohtak alone in the winter months is around 3,000 tons. The rate of the items depends upon the quality and freshness of the product. The shelf life of these products is two-three months. The rates range from a lowly Rs 30 per kg to a whopping Rs 140. The best quality product is sold at over Rs 100 per kg.