HYDERABAD: Cubani ka meetha and Double ka meetha are on everyone’s list of mithais to eat in Hyderabad. Due to the rich Nawabi and Nizami heritage of the city, there are also a whole load of lesser-known, but yummy sweets that make up Hyderabadi cuisine. Almost every family will have a recipe for these ‘royal sweets’ and closely guards them. No marriages, festivals or other functions are complete without an array of these sweets.
To make these available to all those with a sweet tooth and for those, who love to go beyond the crowd favourites, is a new cloud-kitchen, Naqsh. Located in Masab Tank and started by Faraaz Siddiqui, 25, and his mother, Farhana Siddiqui, 49, they sell five varieties of mithais, recipes of which, they say, have been in their families for over 120 years. The sweets they are selling are, Jaali, Boat ka halwa, Ashrafi, Maske ke lauz, and Paan.
“Except for Maske ke lauz which is made with almonds, the others can be made with either cashew nuts or almonds, based on a customers’ preference,” says Faraaz. Faraaz gives out one secret of the making process. He shares, “The mithais are made in silver moulds only.” He adds, “We make the mithai in the same moulds in which even my great-grand mother would make, they have been handed down the generations. Hence, our tagline is ‘The inherited mould’.”
Faraaz claims that it was his ancestors who, when they moved from Chennai (Madras) to Hyderabad brought these recipes with them. He says, “We are descendants of Nawab Aziz Jung Bahadur who was the Finance Minister of the Nizam. His grand-daughter Asmath Begum, also known as Manjli Khala would make the family traditional Jaali and Ashrafi, and then she passed on the recipes to my great-grand mother, and so on, and now we have it.”
At a time when Western dessert delicacies are popular, why did he choose these to sell? He says, “These are typical Hyderabadi mithai. Very few outside the community know about them. They aren’t made commercially, because they are a specialised preparation. We want to popularise it, and we are getting a very encouraging response.”
The interesting thing about these sweets is that they all have almost the same ingredients. Sugar, dry fruits, khoya and milk. How are they then different in shape, consistency and taste, we ask? Faraaz smiles and says, “That is the secret. The cooking time, ratio of ingredients and setting time, is what makes one different from the other.” We tried the Jaali, Boat ka halwa and Maske ke lauz. The Jaali we had was made with cashew and is a baked sweet, which gets its name from the lace like designs. It looked like a cookie, but when you bite into it, it is soft and every bite tasted rich with ground cashews.
We loved the Maske ke lauz, which unlike the Jaali it is not baked, but cooked, and then left to set before being cut into small triangles of almond and sugar heaven. The Boat ka halwa, something I ate for the first time, was thick, but had a flowing consistency, like kheer. In a deep red-orange colour coming from saffron, every bite was loaded with both cashew and almonds. Every spoonful of this treat will give you a sugar rush. The minimum order is for a kg and requires three days pre-order. Price starts at `360. Can be ordered via Instagram: naqsh_hyderabad.