A sudden, unexplained craving for Habshi Halwa made me realise that there are substantially more sweets to life and feel ‘duty driven’ to recommend these to you this morning!
Loved by Indians young and old – these have a sweet, creamy and nutty taste thanks to the pistachio. The edible silver coating on burfis is made from real silver, used in a host of other Indian sweets and lends a metallic taste to the sweet. Silver production in India is huge thanks to Indian sweets. They are expensive and made from sugar, water, ghee, ground pistachios and powdered milk to form a paste that is cut up into squares or diamond shapes and wrapped in silver leaf (varak).
Certainly the best of the best Indian sweet, made from caramelized milk, sugar, ghee and wheat flour it is the supreme ruler of Halwa. They are juicy with more flavour than is believable in one sweet – an absolute treat! Almonds, cashews or pistachios are combined in a thick stiff bechamel type base and raisins, cardamom, saffron, mace or nutmeg turn this halwa into the superior sweet treat that it is. I prefer the ones that are not so sweet so that the tastes can come through freely since I find the other kind, the sweet kind simply too sweet. There is only one thing to have with it and that’s a cup of Mountain malt tea! Teascapade is one of those sites that always always offers the best of the best tea – do visit and enjoy.
A dense fudge made from ground cashews, palm sugar, cardamom and rose essence, they are hugely popular all over India. Rich in oil this soft and grainy sweet tastes of fresh nuts and is often covered with gold foil instead of silver – especially during festivals like Diwali.
Qum, the most holy city in Iran and the centre of Shi’ite Islam with more holy shrines than any other city in Iran produces, fittingly, this mouthwatering and delicious honey and nut sweet. It is common cause that the best of the best sohan comes from Qum. A flat, rectangular sweet, it is made from a dough of honey, sugar, butter, saffron, cardamom and a mixture of almonds and pistachios. This buttery, aromatic and crunchy sweet must take pride of place in Iran.
Back to India! A milk based sweet made from chhenna, a crumbly curd cheese used in many Indian sweets, it proves a winner with its light and spongy taste – so reminiscent of the sugus in my country only larger. Chhenna and semolina is boiled and soaked in ordinary sugar syrup infused with rose water. Understandably they do not last long and are available in tins for preservation purposes.
Lowzina b’Shakar (the word shakar means grateful in Iraqi) is a diamond or triangular shaped sugary sweet made with almonds and flavoured with lemon juice, rose water and cardamom. It’s eaten at special occasions like weddings when they are covered in gold leaf and sent to the family of the bride as a gift to their friends and relatives. Gold leaf and gold dust are common in Asian culinary circles and usually used for great celebrations. The sweet is soft and creamy, delicately nutty with a depth of flavour added by cardamom and rose water.
In Nepal the pulp of the Lapsi fruit (image below), the titaura is used to make this very tangy and spicy sweet. The lapsi is boiled, the pulp is extracted, sun dried and seasoned with the spices that include even chili and then sugared and salted for balance. If you want a huge variety of these sweets, go to Kathmandu‘s Ratna Park which is famous for the many shops that sell titaura.