Sohan halwa: A tale of sweetness | Fruitofy
Sohan halwa: A tale of sweetness

Subcontinent takes special pride in the cultural and historical importance of it’s cuisine, especially desserts. They run like some family heirloom from generation to generation and create magical space in our collective consciousness. We all have nostalgic memories of visits to our paternal and maternal grandmothers, family gatherings, weddings or vacations. None of which was ever complete without the sweet aromatic smell of traditional sweets particularly ‘halwas’. And among all of those Sohan halwa stands out. 

Those were the days when little to none commercial presence of these halwas existed. Tradition was to gather recipes and cook it at home. Even though nowadays we all rely upon commercial outlets to buy these souvenir types of desserts. But our memories trigger as soon as someone utters these names.However how much we tried to know about our most loved and cherished recipes like when were they discovered first? And how did they create such lasting impact by integrating into our cultures as it’s essential components? 

Sohan halwa is certainly one of those dishes that holds symbolic importance for the vibrant culture of Punjab, but first we need to know where does halva originate from?

Halwa holds a millennium long history

Halwa, whose name originates from arabic word ‘halw’ which means sweetness. It travels from Arabian peninsula to Persia and made its way to India through Ottoman courts. Yes, moving through all these fertile lands, and rich oriental cultures it kept adding colors of them all. In a book named,‘Guzishta Lucknow (Lucknow, the last phase of an Oriental Culture)’.  Abdul Halim Sharar (1860-1926). ‘’writes that taking the name into consideration, halwa originated in Arabic lands and came to India via Persia,” 

However, it was Ottoman court that gave life to these confectionaries. During the reign of Ottoman emperor Sulaiman, there was an entire room or ‘Halwahane’  dedicated to these desserts and special care was to be taken of them. 

According to Chicago-based food historian Colleen Taylor Sen, the author of ‘Feasts and Fasts’, the halwa arrived in India during the Delhi Sultanate, from the early 13th to the mid 16th century.

So how Sohan made its presence among the range of halwas?

There are various legends revolving around the origins of Sohan halwa in the Subcontinent. According to one version there was a Hindu confectioner in Multan by the name of Sohan. As the legend says he bought some milk that went stale so he decided to do an experiment with it. He put it on flames and let it get thicker, then added some wheat and it turned out to be a sweet delicacy. He then distributed it among the wayfarers, his newly discovered recipe. So the demand for the newly developed halwa soared and customers thronged at his shop for the delicious dessert. 

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