Halwas of India
Halwas of India
Halwa and Indians have an unbreakable bond. It is believed that Halwa was brought to India by the Arabs. Infact the word Halwa is derived from the Arabic word 'Hulw' which means sweet. It was a sweet made of date paste and milk and sugar. However over the centuries Indians have adopted Halwa wholeheartedly and now Halwa is an indispensable part of everday Indian life.
Indians cannot survive without Halwa. If someone makes it as Bhog for the Gods, it is a dessert for somebody else. For our TV and Filmy mothers Gajar ka Halwa is their son or daughter's favourite dish, and for many a new bride, Halwa made of rawa or moong Dal is the first thing she makes in her husband's house for her first Rasoi
Halwa can be made with number of ingredients. Our simple Halwa is made of semolina or Suji with sugar and ghee and garnished with nuts and raisins. In south this becomes Kesari. In largely Muslim oriented towns in UP and other North Indian states, Gosht Halwa and Ande ka Halwa is also made.Gosht halwa is made with minced mutton and cooked over slow heat with ghee, sugar, mawa and dry fruits. Once the Halwa is made one cannot even make out that it is made of mutton.
Halwa can be made from different types of flour, pulses, vegetables, fruits and dry fruits. Over the years Wheat flour has been substituted with Semolina(Rawa) or Maida ( refined flour) and jaggery with sugar. Bombay is famous for the Bombay Halwa made of Rawa or Maida. Sindhis make Halwa from lapsi or broken wheat or Dalia. Moong Dal Halwa made of moong Dal paste of moong Dal soaked overnight is another delicacy which is popular even in south India. Cardamom and Nutmeg are added in the Halwa alongwigh Saffron for the exotic flavour and color.
Sohan Halwa is synonymous with Delhi. It is in the shape of large round toffees and this was very popular during early 1950s.
In parts of old Delhi, particularly during winters, Habshi halwa, light to dark shades of brown is fragrant with spices. Besides being rich in calories, it is reputed to have aphrodisiac qualities.
Jauzi Halwa of Lucknow is made of Samnak or wheat germ. An interesting legend is that unless dew drops rained on a moonlit night on the samnak used, the Halwa did not acquire the right taste. It is made during winter and is supposed to be an immunity booster. On special occasions a velvety smooth halwa Rich with almonds, golden with the saffron and smelling of cardamom and strewn with Rose petals and cashews is served which is called Badam Halwa befitting the status of an Emperor.
Jauzi halwa is available in Lucknow and Hyderabad only, where Muslim population is high. Another Muslim delicacy is the Kharak Halwa which originated in the Bohra community of Gujarat. It has the softness of milk and khoya, sweetness of sugar and the richness of de seeded dates, walnuts and cashews.
Turning to the east, comes the Cholar Dal Halwa of Bengal. It is a typical sweet made from gram Dal, dripping with ghee, strewn with dry fruits and a whiff of garam masala and Tej patta(bay leaves) which are removed just before serving. Another simple Halwa is Mohun Bhog made of semolina, sugar and milk.
Moving down south Kerala is famous for the Kozhikkodan Halwa famous for it's exotic taste. Kerala also contributes to Karutha Halwa or Black Halwa made of rice and jaggery. Halwa made from winter melon is a traditional sweet in Karnataka and is an integral part of traditional Brahmin weddings.
Another prominent Halwa from South is Aluwa from Tirunelveli in Tamilnadu. Tirunelveli Halwa known as Iruttukadai has recently got Geographical Indication (GI) when High Court ruled that only a 200 year old shop in Tirunelveli has the exclusive right to sell the Iruttukadai Tirunelveli Halwa, a famous sweet dish made of wheat and sugar. This Halwa is made over three days. The wheat milk is extracted on the first day and fermented overnight. Halwa is prepared next day and sold on the third day. As per the shop owners this is the secret behind the exotic taste of the Halwa. Their shop opens only in the evenings and sells hundreds of Halwa daily.
Another interesting thing about Halwa is that it can be made out of anything. A clear example is Pune's Hari Mirchi Halwa. This consists of a blend of green chillies, flavoured milk powder, and cream. This is a speciality of Pune and this can give a stiff competition to any other sweet dishes.
So Halwa though it arrived from Arabia has become an integral part of our Indian Menu. Long live our Halwa