Muscat: Omani Halwa has attained a cult status especially among foodies and if you ever visit the country you simply cannot leave without trying it first.
The traditional Omani Halwa is a combination of eggs, sugar, corn flour and clarified butter which is a commonly used ingredient in Middle East, South East and Indian sub-continent, to produce a gelatinous sweet. It is then flavoured with spices such as cardamom and saffron.
The addition of rosewater from the Jebel Akdhar region, honey or luban is the choice of the Halwa maker that adds a delicate and delectable fragrance and flavour. Although every family has their own secret recipe of this mouth-watering sweet, a dish full of Omani Halwa cooked even with a slight variation is a pleasure to devour.
Considered a symbol of Omani hospitality, Omani Halwa is served during weddings, religious occasions and family functions.
Mahmoud Al Hadidi, owner of Halwaalhadidi, a retail outlet, with branches in most of the towns in Oman, says that the movement of Halwa is high during weddings and also during Eid. “But now with the current pandemic situation, the sale has come down, though there is good movement during the weekends. The culture of Halwa and Kahwa (Arabic Coffee) is an age-old custom among Omanis and it still continues.”
Omani Halwa, has over the years undergone some changes, Mahmoud informs even as the basic taste is kept intact. “Changes are made catering to the preferences of the people. For example, we add brown sugar instead of white sugar and complement that with Omani honey as well. We make Halwa with nuts likes pistachio, walnut, cashew and also pine nuts. More often these are customized orders, which are given as gift boxes by families, during special occassions.”
Rashid another Halwa-maker, who runs two shops in Seeb, says that the charm of Omani Halwa is hard to beat. “I still have customers, who come and buy their quota. I have a secret recipe that has helped me retain my client base,” Says Rashid.
Al Diwaniya, another popular Halwa shop in Al Khuwair area has a tie-up with hotels for supply of Omani Halwa. “On days we have big orders, we bring our supply of hot Halwa, from our factory in Barka, early in the morning and start the distribution. Like any other business we are also hit by the Covid19 pandemic, but we do get orders, though not in big numbers,” Says Nisal of Al Diwaniya.