KARACHI: Laddoo, barfi, gulab jamun, churn chum, jalebi … how many sweetmeat, or mithai, varieties, are you familiar with? Which ones are your favourite?
While we have only a few names on our fingertips, there are many kinds of mithai available at sweetmeat shops and sweet marts across the city. Some of these shops aren’t even very big or located in a well-known area. Still it is their speciality in making a certain mithai or the other that earns them popularity.
It may look like some kind of chum chum, but Mohammad Ishtiaq at Dacca Sweets in Gulshan-i-Iqbal says it is something quite different. “Kutcha Gulla, which is more flavour and less sweet. But if you are looking for chum chum, we have something similar but with sweet cream stuffing in the centre. It is called malai karri or malai chum chum though some also call it *malai burger’ ” he says.
The shop, opened about 35 years ago, is known to be specialising in Bengali sweetmeats such as paneer barfi, rasgulla, which they pronounce ‘roshugulla’, rasmalai, sandesh and also Dhaka paneer, which is saltish. “Some of the things we sell are also being offered by other sweet marts but customers come from faraway areas for them here to us because they find that others cannot replicate the flavour. Our mithai is made by people of Bengali origin. It’s a rare talent that cannot always be learnt or passed on,” says Abdul Hafeez at the counter.
“But this past Ramazan, wre opened another branch at Ba-hadurabad, which now caters to our Clifton and Defence customers.”
On Sharea Faisal in PECHS Block-6, there is the little Delhi Sweets shop that almost everyone has heard of. Apart from being famous for their halwa-puri and samosa, they are also known for several varieties of halwa. Mohammad Hasnain there says that his most expensive halwa will have to be the one with dates, figs, pistachios, cashew nuts, almonds, walnuts and an assortment of dried fruit all rolled into one. “It costs between Rsl,200 and Rsl,400 per kilogramme but we make it during winter usually as it carries a very warm effect,” he says.
“Otherwise we also have separate halwa for each type of dried fruit. Cashew-nut halwa is for Rsl,000 a kilo.”
At Ambala one comes across Punjabi mithai such as kaiser-pak, which looks like lush grass growing on rich soil. “Well,” smiles Kamil Mohammad Khan, the shopkeeper. “Actually,
it is a layer of kalakand and a layer of habshi halwa topped with khopra, or coconut.”
Though S. Abdul Khalique is famous for several delightful treats, the shop’s speciality list includes pear-shaped malai pera with pistachio filling, nutritious panjiripera and malai
khaja filled with khoya, which all cost Rs620 a kilo.
But their most expensive mithai happens to be the kaju ki barfi or cashew nut barfi. “It’s made from pure crushed cashew nuts and is sold at Rsl,600 a kilo,” says Tariq Iqbal there. “People usually buy it as gifts for ministers.”