Sunday, December 15, 2013

Multani Sohan Halwa: Gift of Saints’ City

MULTAN, Dec 15 (APP): Known for its taste, sweetness and freshness, mouth-watering Multani Sohan Halwa is considered to be one of the gifts of the Saints’ city. Sohan Halwa is among six gifts, for which Multan is known for.  A famous persion quote includes dust, heat, beggars and graveyards as the four other gifts of Multan. Mango is a seasonal fruit of summer and Sohan Halwa is a winter’s dish, but both have become the identity of Multan at home and abroad.  The city has got international fame owing to these two sweet temptations. Some historians say a Hindu, Sohan Ram, had a name in the business of selling milk in ancient times in Multan. He would sell it in mounds daily. One day, he could not sell a large quantity of unboiled milk, which was boiled by him in a big container so that it might not get spoiled.
Ram made it thicker to the extent that it turned into a crunchy ‘Khoya’ and later he mixed various dry fruit into the product. The new product (Halwa) was liked that much by his customers that it was named after his name as Sohan Halwa.
Another theory says that the sweet dish had a special association  with the Iranian city of Sohan as Multan had been a main trading centre since old times and  had a harbour too. The Halwa travelled here from Iran with traders and ultimately became identity of the city.
Sohan is a Hindi word, which means an item of rubbing. While preparing Halwa, slotted spoon (Khurpa) plays a vital role, therefore, it is known as “Sohan Halwa”.
One can find a number of shops of the sweet dish in every nook and corner of the city. It is a fact that Sohan Halwa of some other cities  of south Punjab, including Dera Ghazi Khan, Uch Sharif, Mailsi,  Bahawalpur, and Makhdoom Aali has earned a name too. However, it is an undeniable fact that due to its popularity among sweet lovers, Multani Sohan Halwa has excelled all others.
Halwa preparation scene is very interesting to watch. It begins with boiling of mounds of milk in large containers kept on big stovens. A man   keeps on stirring spoon in the containers, by the time milk starts boiling. The process is sped up as it gets boiled. Afterwards, flour is mixed in it matching its weight. Later, sugar and ghee are combined and the laborious process of preparation goes on till its baking.  
When one enters Qadirabad from Chowk Fawara, one finds several  eateries of the dish located at Tareen Road, in addition to other shops within the city.
A few families of the city are very popular among Halwa lovers. They  are Peerzada, Hafiz Abdul Waddood and Hafiz Habib-ur Rehman families.
“ What makes our Sohan Halwa distinctive from others is pure  ingredients that makes it scrumptious. We use Desi (pure) ghee and bake Halwa very well. We have been in the business since 1987 and always preferred pure things,” said Abdul Wakeel Peerzada, who claims to the best in Halwa making in the city.
“ Pure milk is the burning question of the day because most of the milkmen mix chemicals in it that makes colour of Sohan Halwa black. In the past ‘Chandi ka Warq’ (silver leaves) were used for garnishing, but these days, these are used a few and far between, he added.
Hafiz Abdul Wadood family has earned a name in Sohan Halwa business. Abdul Hai, a member of the family, says that people, who were dealing in  the business in Qadirabad, have played a major role in developing its taste.
“ We make around 20 kg Halwa in one container and use flour, 3 kg ghee and mix seasonal dry fruit in it. Our Halwa can be used for three months, after which its colour goes faint, but its taste doe not change at all,” he claimed.
Another known confectionery located at Hussain Agahi offers a wide variety of Sohan Hawla. People, who come from far and wide of the area for shopping there, buy Halwa from the shop too.
“Halwa of this shop is very sweet and delicious. I love to eat Halwa made up of eggs here. This confectionery has its own flavour, though its sweets are bit costly,” said Rida Naeem, a shopper.
Beware of shops and vendors selling Halwa in the name of famous brands of the city at buses terminals, railway station  and wagon stands where tourist come and go. It is a common observation that they sell fake Halwa with known brands names printed on it. They mislead people, who are not familiar with real markets or shops of the Sohan Halwa. 

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