HYDERABAD: The Hyderabadi cuisine has a rich collection of traditional desserts ranging from sweets made of ingredients like almonds, apricot and even bottle gourd. But one sweet dish which had come into the city about a century back and has gained rapid popularity, as well as the patronage of the Nizams, is a dessert called Jouzi Halwa.
The dessert has an interesting history. A young Muhammed Hussain came from Turkey to Hyderabad in early 19th century and set up an outlet in Nampally. His main product, a milk-based dessert, was called Jouzi Halwa. Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan Asaf Jah VII heard about the popularity of the dish and visited the place to try it out. So happy was he with the taste, that he named the shop after King Hameed of Turkey, who was his close relative. Hameedi Confectioners was thus born. The shop still has a poster of the official letter of appreciation in Urdu from the Nizam.
The ingredients of Jouzi Halwa are milk, ghee, nutmeg, sugar, dry fruits and saffron apart from certain secret spices which are brought in from Afghanistan. Extract of soaked barley is also used. The milk is stirred in medium heat for hours and then sugar, spices, dry fruits as well as saffron, ghee and other ingredients are added. The halwa, thus prepared, is garnished with almonds and cashews and decorated with varq or silver foil. The ghee-laden delicious dessert is extremely heavy and even a little quantity fills you up. It has an aftertaste of nutmeg and is preferred to be eaten standalone as well as with milk.
The main shop of Hameedi Confectioners is still located at the original place near Mozzamjahi Market, which has now become one of the busiest roads in Hyderabad. They now have a new branch in Abids area, a short distance from the original shop. Mohammed Anees Ul Hussain who is the current owner of the shops says that there is a huge demand for this signature dish and they have been supplying this dessert to many large hotels in the city, and also for functions and marriages.
As per him, the halwa has therapeutic properties, providing quick nourishment to people recovering from illness, as well as to those who lack strength. There are two versions of Jouzi Halwa, the original one is priced at `500 a kilogram, whereas a special version at `700 has more ghee and saffron. Hameedi Confectioners also offers other traditional Hyderabadi sweets such as Ashrafi and Badam Halwa.
Sabyasachi is a food enthusiast and blogs at www.foodaholix.in