Halwa by many names, around the world-The New Indian Express

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By Monish Gujral Published: 01st September 2013 12:00 AM Last Updated: 30th August 2013 02:29 PM

I remember as a child getting up early in the morning to go to Chandni Chowk’s Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib with my grandmother. I would greedily wait for the halwa after it had been offered as prasad. I would tell my granny to buy at least 5-6 portions as inevitably nearly half was taken by the priest as prasad. How much I relished that taste.

Halwa was and is often cooked at home. There are many variations—Suji (semolina), whole wheat, gram flour (besan), besides carrot, raw papaya, sita-phal, figs and surprise, surprise, even egg.

There are many global variations of the food we eat, depending upon availability of raw material and regional produce. I have travelled round the globe and found many countries have their own variations of our Halwa.

Halva refers to many dense, thick and sweet confectionery across South, Central, and West Asia, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, the Balkans, Central Europe, Malta and the Jewish world.

Sesame halva is popular in Balkan countries like Poland and in the Middle East. In the Mediterranean region, sesame butter and tahini paste are the key ingredients, besides sugar or glucose. Eastern European countries like Belarus, Romania, Bosnia and Russia use sunflower seeds to make the halva.

Lately, when I was extensively touring Turkey, while doing research for my book On The Kebab Trail I found that they too have a halva confectionery like our candy floss called floss halva. Floss halva is a traditional sweet, made by flossing thin strands of halva into a light confection. Made primarily of wheat flour and sugar, the strands are continuously wrapped into a ball shape and then compressed. The result is a halva with a light consistency. Floss halva can be found in regular and pistachio flavours.

In Bahrain, the most popular form of halva is a jelly-styled sweet also known as halva Bahraini and in Kuwait this is called Rahash.

In Egypt, halawa is a popular confection that is relatively inexpensive and comes in pistachio, chocolate and mixed nuts flavours, though they are sesame seed based.

In Greece and Cyprus, sesame halva is a classical dessert The standard recipe for semolina halva is referred to as “1:2:3:4” as it comprises one unit oil, two of semolina, three of sugar and four of water.

Irani Halwa-Halvardeh is the Iranian term for tahini-based halwa, which include whole pistachios. Ardeh is processed sesame in the form of paste, usually sweetened with sugar. Halwa made with flour, butter and sugar is spread on a plate into a thin layer and is often flavoured with rose water.

Halwa came to Russia from Central Asia. Halwa-containing bars, cakes or waffles (with or without chocolate, nuts or seeds) are now widespread.

Halwa, called alva in Serbian, is common to the whole region. Alva is a typical sweet in local church fairs around Serbia.

In Somalia, halwa is known as xalwo. A staple of Somalian cuisine, it is a popular confection served during special occasions, such as Eid celebrations or wedding receptions. Xalwo is made from sugar, cornstarch, cardamom powder, nutmeg powder, clarified butter and some local flavours are added to enhance the texture and taste.

Halwa, called aluva in Sinhalese, is a sweet made for the traditional Sri Lankan New Year in April. It is generally made from rice flour and sugar. Cashewnuts are often added for taste.

In Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, the traditional name for halwa is lavz. Soft sesame halwa is made from sugar syrup, egg whites and sesame seeds. Solid sesame halwa is made from pulled sugar, which is stretched to give a white colour, sesame is added to the warm sugar and spread on big trays.

Most of us have grown up listening to a rhyme: Nani ke ghar jayega, halwa puri khayega, aur mota ho kar aayega. So halwa is considered an auspicious dessert and mostly connected with some special occasion and ceremonies.Today I will share with you a special recipe of Egg Halwa.

First chef from India to be invited to Le cordon Bleu to demonstrate in Paris. Monish is credited with the trailblazing turn-around of Moti Mahal, from being a small but iconic presence in Delhi, to becoming a multi-national corporation that is well on its way to defining how the world eats Indian food. A traditionalist, Monish has remained true to the signature dishes that made Moti Mahal a legend, while reinventing the dining experience into one that is exciting and avant garde to suit modern sensibilities.

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