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Sohan Halwa, other traditional sweets add colours to weddings

PESHAWAR (APP): Known as the land of hospitality, Khyber Pakthunkhwa is a unique province of Pakistan where traditional sweets including Sohan Halwa of Dera Ismail Khan become an important food item in weddings and birthday parties due to its delicious taste and full of energy.

The sohan halwa of DI Khan, Gajar ‘halwa’ of Bannu, Mardani Pera of Mardan and Rajjar Methai of Charsadda district make marriages, engagement and birthday parties more delectable in Khyber Pakthunkhwa where these mouth-watering commodities were being preferred on traditional sweets on joyous occasions.

Several varieties of sohan halwa are brought from different districts including Multan to Peshawar as special items, however, the Dera Ismail Khan’s variety attracts a substantial number of buyers due to its unique flavor, taste and being cost-efficient.

Barakat Ali alias Pehlawan, who run a famous sweet shop at Qissa Khawani Peshawar told APP that he had brought 40kg sohan halwa stock from DI Khan and all of it were sold out on Sunday.

“My son had visited DI Khan last night to bring additional 50KG sohan halwa stock to fulfill people’s pressing people’s demands for wedding parties ahead of Ramazan,” he said. The ingredients required for the special halwa include milk, khoya, soni, fine flour, sugar and ghee besides dry fruits, which make it more delicious and tasty.

The traders from different parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Balochistan, Azad Kashmir and Punjab have placed heavy orders for upcoming Eid and extra labour was hired to meet their pressing demands for sweets and confectionaries.

Like other food items, he said the prices of DI Khan and Multani sohan halwa were also increased in local market due to soaring price hike and one KG was available on ranges of Rs400 to Rs600 per KG in Peshawar, which was economical than Multani sohan hallwa that was being sold at Rs500 to Rs700 per KG.

“My entire family likes DI Khan sohan halwa due to its delectable taste and energy perspective,’” said Ehtisham Khan, a lecturer of Urdu literature at Qissa Khwani bazaar. “I purchased four KG sohan hallwa including two kg for my married daughter as a special gift on her birthday,” he said.

Like sohan halwa, the Rajjar Methai made of pure “Gur” of Charsadda district also attracts a large number of buyers for joys parties due to its appetizing taste and affordable prices.

Located about one kilometer north of Charsadda city, Rajjar bazaar has now turned into a sweets market where a great rush of buyers are being witnessed in all bakary shops.

The traditional sweet was brought in substantial quantities in Peshawar, Charsadda, Swabi, Nowshera and Mardan districts where Rajjar sweets were being sold like hot cake.

Yaqoob Khan, an owner of Razzar sweet told APP on Sunday that this hard earned business was started by his grandfather Israruddin alias Chacha Halwai in 1930 and he belonged to the third generation running it today to support his family.

The delicious quality of the sweet differentiates it from the rest of confectioneries due to its better taste, chemically free and affordable price. The people served it to relatives and guests as a special item besides on joys occasions of Eid, weddings, engagements and children birthday strengthening the bond of love and friendship.

“Personally, I like Rajjar sweet due its palatable taste and cost-efficient,” said Khayam Khan, a government employee, adding people of all social status can afford it. “I purchased four KG Rajar sweets at Rs 400 per kilogram for my family members and friends as a special marriage gift,” he added.

Haji Yaqoob said the recipe for the popular sweet changed over the years and only butter, flour and gur were used in its preparation by my father as sugar was not available in those ancient days in Charsadda.

He said presently it was being prepared with various ingredients including desi ghee, milk, butter, gur and white flour enhances its taste and delectability. The popular sweet also attracted traders from Afghanistan and Central Asian Republic while marching to the subcontinent via Charsadda and Peshawar through GT Road.

The local people also send the sweets as a gift to their friends and relatives, living in other parts of the country as well as abroad. It is also being exported to Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iran, Syria and several Middle East countries besides send to USA, UK and other western countries as a special gift for friends and relatives.

Similarly, mardani pera sweet prepared of milk and butter beside other ingredients, also attract buyers. “Mardani sweet is my first choice for Sunday parties. I purchased 10 kilograms of sweets including five KG each for my married sisters, maternal uncles and relatives as special gifts,” Professor Dr Naeem Khan of Swabi University told APP.

He said Pakistan can earn valuable foreign exchange by exporting the traditional confectionery to international markets. Focus should be made on its marketing by involving foreign missions to explore new avenues for these popular products besides social and digital media to be used for its proper projection overseas.

The manufacturers and shopkeepers of these traditional sweets said that they had suffered great financial losses due to the corona pandemic and last year devastative flood and urged the government to financially support the affectees besides providing interest free loans to them.

This would enable the affected shopkeepers and manufacturers to strengthen their business besides providing jobs to labourers.

They also demanded industry status to DI Khan’s sohan halwa and Rajar methai of Charsadda.