Updated November 1st, 2019 at 13:04 IST

Food: History and various types of Halwa dishes in India

The sweet dish Halwa is loved by many and is often consumed at festivals and weddings. It has various variations and consumed in many ways across India. Read.

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Halwa is the most loved dish by kids as well as by adults in India. It is basically one of the popular sweet dishes of India. Halwa can be a snack or served as a part of the meal. Do you know the history and origin of halwa and where did the dish come from? Take a look.

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History of Halwa According to Food Historians

The first known written halvah recipe appeared in the early 13th century Arabic Kitab al-Tabikh (The Book of Dishes). According to Alan Davidson of The Oxford Companion to Food, halwa is an Arabic dish. Halwa may also be based on various other ingredients, including beans, lentils, and vegetables such as carrots, pumpkins, yams and squashes.

Food historians hint that the halwa is as old as the hills and has its roots sometime in 3000 B.C.E., while many others hold the opinion that mentions of a gummy, greasy, sweet confection can be found even in early references (12th century) of Istanbul. Be that as it may, the word halava is thought to be Arabic and finds its origins in the word halwa, meaning sweet dish or sweetmeat. But then, the Halwa had quite a journey as mentioned before, which is why it was rechristened as halava in Sanskrit, Halawa in Egypt, Makedonikos Halvas in Greece, halvah in Hebrew, hilwa or halawi in Arabic, helva in Turkey and halva back here in India.

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All about Halwa in India

In northern India, the most famous include sooji (or sujihalwa (semolina), aate ka halwa (wheat), moong dal ka halwagajar halwa (carrot) which traditionally belongs to Punjab and is referred to as gajrela, dudhi halwa, chana daal halwa (chickpeas), and Satyanarayan halwa (variation of suji halwa, with the addition of detectable traces of banana), and Kaju halwa (cashew nut). Kashi halwa, made from winter melon or ash gourd, is a famous and traditional sweet of Karnataka, and mainly makes a regular appearance in traditional Brahmin weddings. Sooji halwa is sold in many eateries in Karnataka as Kesari bhath, usually alongside pineapple. Aate ka Halwa usually being served every day as prasad after reciting hymns in Sikh Gurudwaras.

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Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu is known for its wheat halwa. Its preparation is a laborious process that "is slowly seeing this sweet disappear." Unlike other sweets, the extra ghee is not drained out but forms an outer layer. This increases the shelf life of the halwa. The unique taste of the halwa is attributed to the perennial Thamirabranai.

Also Read: Lauki Ka Halwa: How To Make This Indian Sweet Dish Easily At Home



Published November 1st, 2019 at 12:15 IST