Tag Archives: almonds

The Exclusive Bahraini Halwa – A Workshop at the Showaiter’s

Would my Bahrain trip be a satisfied and complete one, without visiting one of those very popular Halwa Shops of the country? Certainly not.

Bahraini Halwa, is one of the most sort after sweets, during festivals and social gatherings, not only in Bahrain, but around the whole of Gulf region.

The strong resemblance the Bahraini Halwa has with the Bombay Halwa, that we savour back home, is a matter of cullinary research. I remember, when sweet boxes were brought by friends and relatives, while visiting our home, the Bombay Halwa wrapped in a transparent wrapper, orange or yellow in colour, would be the most sort after. It was always reserved for relaxed chewing. The highly glutenous texture of the delicacy, was the most attractive feature, I think. Chewing it slowly, enjoying the flavour it spread inside the mouth, still lingers in my mind.

Bahraini halwa is a direct descendant of the Omani version, introduced to the local cuisine more than 90 years ago following visits by Bahraini pearl divers and fishermen to Muscat.

The family modified the recipe to create a delicious local variety and then went on to establish a halwa dynasty which earned recognition beyond the Gulf. https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/sweet-dynasty-plans-uae-invasion-1.546296

The Halwa Showaiter – the Pioneer Sweet Shop of Bahrain, has been in the business of making sweets since 1850. When you travel, in and around Manama, as we did, one would come across a number of Showaiter Halwa Shops, which belong to the several cousins of the Showaiter family.

The factory of the Hussain Mohammed Showaiter Sweets, is located in an area called Muharaq, about 5-6 kms (around 15 minutes drive time) from capital Bahrain. A visit there, was a -‘ must do’ one, since they offer a gastronomic tour to their factory. Yes, the Showaiters are kind enough to allow tourists and connoisseurs, visit their kitchen, view, click pictures and take videos of the making of their speciality Bahraini Halwa.

I certainly didn’t want to miss the chance. It was not a dream come true, but a treat come true.

So, this was going to be my Halwa Workshop – to know about the making of the very famous Halwa of Bahrain.

Come along….it’s going to be an interesting, sweet journey..

First, the ingredients..

The basic ingredients that go in the making of the basic Halwa are,

  • corn starch
  • sugar
  • cardamom powder
  • corn oil
  • rose water
  • nuts

And, depending upon the variety of Halwa, for example pomegranate halwa, apricot halwa, fig or milk halwa – the speciality ingredients are added.

The two most popular Halwas are the Saffron Halwa which has cashew nuts, which is orange/red in colour, and the King of Halwa – which is green in colour loaded with almonds.

The Halwa is made with two to three members, taking turns to stir the mixture in the huge copper vessel, filled with ingredients.

  1. First, water is poured into the vessel, and sugar is added.
  2. After a boil, the other ingredients – corn starch, oil, rose water, cardamom powder, food colour and nuts – are added, one after the other.
  3. The initial thin liquid, becomes thicker and stickier with time. This process requires non-stop stirring and hence, is a tedious one.
  4. Once, the required consistency of the halwa is achieved, the halwa is poured in large containers and taken for packaging.

The videos below, show the making of the Halwa – the stirring and the continuous process of making several batches.

This video below, shows the packaging of the two special types of Halwa – saffron and almond halwa.

the packed boxes, ready to be transported…

and the super delicious gooey halwa…

The packed halwa, sets well inside the box..

when cut…

On the way to the entrance of the office of the Showaiter’s in Muharraq, there is a shop which displays the century year old tradition of halwa making, that is exclusive to the family.

They have preserved the utensils used during the initial years, in the making of Bahraini Halwa.

Halwas to taste and the different types they make-

This Halwa workshop, indeed made my Bahrain trip a complete one- opening new windows to my primary interests -history, culture and cuisine.

Vegan Chocolate Fudge

Chocolate Fudge can be a quick and easy dessert, when you know what to combine with the melted chocolate – and in what proportion. The main ingredient in a Chocolate Fudge being chocolate- one that accepts countless innovative combinations, makes the dessert a flexible delicacy. The ultimate success is visible only after the Fudge sets in the refrigerator, and one cuts it to cubes.

I can gladly say now, after a few years of attempting to make different combinations of Fudges, it has been one of my most satisfying cooking projects. Digestive cookie Fudge, Oreo Fudge, Coconut Fudge, Two-layered dark and white chocolate fudge, are a few that I have been trying out. I didn’t think I should be posting them, as many of my blogger friends are experts in the above mentioned varieties. I didn’t want to replicate those recipes, though my combinations would be a bit different. If I am satisfied that my Fudge is absolutely exclusive, I shall post them in future.

The latest Fudge, that I’ve been making, is this simple VEGAN FUDGE. It seems to be a hassle free recipe, quick to accomplish and above all, it is tasty too. Especially, when there are more desserts on the table with high sugar content, this dark chocolate fudge, which is a bit bitter, gives a balance to the over sweetened taste buds.

Now, straight to the recipe.

VEGAN CHOCOLATE FUDGE

Ingredients

  • combination of 70% and 85% Dark Chocolate – 200 gms each (I used Lindt)
  • almond flour – 2 cups – 1 cup equivalent to 50 gms; so, 100 gms of almond flour
  • almond and coconut milk blend – 2 cups – each cup was 130 ml; so, 260 ml of milk
  • almond flakes – approximately 3/4 to 1 cup
  • chopped pistachios – approximately 3/4 to 1 cup
  • unrefined cane sugar – 4 tbsp
  • additional pistachios or any other nuts of preference – for garnish

Method of Preparation

  1. Melt both chocolates (70% and 85% bars) in a double boiler

2. Mix two cups of almond flour to two cups of almond/coconut milk blend in a separate bowl

3. Place baking sheet inside a rectangular serving dish and grease it with very little extra virgin coconut oil. Keep this ready. Once the ingredients for Fudge are combined together, the mixture needs to be poured immediately into this sheeted serving dish

4. When the chocolate is melted smooth, remove the bowl of melted chocolate from the double boiler

5. Add unrefined sugar to the melted chocolate

6. Mix the almond flour-milk to the melted chocolate

7. The consistency of the liquid chocolate would be paste like now

8. Fold in, almond flakes and chopped pistachios

9. Without wasting much time, pour the mixture inside the already greased sheet and spread evenly

10. Place the dish in refrigerator.Let it set overnight or place in freezer for about three hours

11. Once completely set, cut into squares using a sharp knife.

12. Garnish with preferred nuts or anything of your choice.

13. Feel free to alter sugar – more or less

14. Also, one can try different chocolate combinations.

Are all my Ingredients VEGAN?

While I believed my recipe was 100% VEGAN, I thought it was my responsibility to check, whether each and every ingredient that went into making the Fudge, fell into the Vegan category.

  1. Lindt 70% and 85% dark chocolate

Are Lindt chocolate products suitable for vegans? 
Some of our products are made without any animal products, such as our Lindt EXCELLENCE range with 70%, 85%, 90% and 99% Cocoa dark chocolate bars. Please always refer to the packaging for a definitive ingredient listing. 

https://www.lindt.co.uk/help/lindt-frequently-asked-questions/

…As available in their website.

2. Alpro Coconut Almond Milk

BENEFITS

100% plant-based

Refreshing anytime & anywhere

A source of calcium and vitamins B2, B12, D and E.

Naturally low in fat

Free from colours and preservatives

https://www.alpro.com/aren/products/drinks/blends/coconut-almond

…As available in their website.

3. Almond Flour/Almond Flakes/ Pistachios – Nuts are Vegan

4. Unrefined Cane Sugar

Now, this is ambiguous. Not all unrefined sugars can be Vegan. So, check out.

The process used to filter cane sugar may use bone char. So, it is not that sugar itself has animal products in it, but that some sugar from sugar cane is not vegan because it uses bone char in its processing.

Just because sugar is brown does not mean it did not use bone char either. Brown sugar is produced by refining sugar and then adding molasses back into it, so unless it is labeled, it is unclear if the sugar is vegan or not. However, sugar that is brown because it is unrefined or raw is vegan, even if it is from sugar cane. There are a couple key words to look for if you want to know if sugar is vegan. BeetUnrefinedUSDA Organic and Raw are all phrases that let you know bone char was not used in your sugar.  The labels cane, brown, granulated, or just plain sugar don’t clarify, and so you can not know without contacting the company.

https://www.vivalavegan.net/articles/293-the-sour-side-of-sugar.html

Here, I have used unrefined cane sugar.

This is yet again an eye opener, on how today’s commercial market dictates our culinary routine.

Vegan or not, I found this combination of ingredients – very light and devoid of the usual milky/creamy texture; less sugary; less troublesome to make and yet tasty.

My love for nutty jaggery Brittles – 2. Kadalai Mittai/Peanut Brittles 3. Dry Fruit Brittles


Smitten by the brittle bug, I continue my jaggery journey with peanuts and dry fruits. If anyone tells you – Kadalai Mittai and Ellu Mittai are one of his or her favourite snacks, waste no time in guessing their age. They must surely be in their late thirties or beyond…. Rarely early thirties…. More certainly, they grew up in a traditional environment with no space for the likes of popular fast food Giants.

Before our children look at us as bizarre creatures from an alien world – who say no to burgers or croissants for snacks, it’s high time we train them to accept the goodness of healthy traditional stuff. If you are already an alien, waste no time. Start immediately. Make them feel comfortable with their snack boxes with no junk. Now, before defining what is junk to our children, I think WE should understand JUNK.

One can’t actually make out what is junk and what is not. Correct me if am wrong…….

Junk can just be that which is craft fully made, temptingly displayed, yet made with UNHEALTHY ingredients.

A good snack or food can be equally craft fully made, temptingly displayed, yet not accepted as it is what your mother served you at home.

This acceptance of home made or even store bought traditional foods, would develop only if we change as a community of parents. Peer pressure seems to be the most common and simple reason for falling into certain traps… especially into the trap laid by fast food Giants . Peer pressure contributes to what children prefer packing to school for snacks and lunch.

With no more thoughts to elaborate, let us start making Kadalai Mittai (peanut brittles) and dry fruit brittle… Anytime healthier than snacks that constitute white flour, white sugar white butter. Brittles are called Chikkies in the northern part of India.

I didn’t want to do separate posts for both brittles… The method being the same and just alteration of nuts, this is a post with dual recipes.

Kadalai Mittai (Peanut Brittles)

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Ingredients

  • kadalai/peanuts – 2 cups
  • vellam/jaggery – 1 1/2 cups
  • water – 1/2 cup
  • chukku podi/dry ginger powder – 2 tsp
  • elakkai podi/cardamom powder- 2 tsp

Dry fruit Mittai (Dry fruit brittles)

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Ingredients

  • combination of almonds, walnuts, cashewnuts, peanuts (one may also include pecan nuts, hazelnuts) – coarsely chopped – 2 cups
  • vellam/jaggery – 1 1/2 cups
  • water – 1/2 cup
  • chukku podi/dry ginger powder – 2 tsp
  • elakkai podi/cardamom powder- 2 tsp

Method of Preparation

  1. Dry roast peanuts and keep aside / Coarsely chop mixed nuts, dry roast them and keep aside.
  2. The procedure is the same for any brittle…
  3. Grease a flat tray
  4. Heat up jaggery and water until jaggery dissolves
  5. Strain the liquid
  6. Boil the jaggery water along with cardamom and dry ginger powder until it reaches hard ball consistency – place a bowl with water and drop the syrup into it. If the syrup doesn’t melt and turns to a harder ball, that’s right for making brittles
  7. Switch off stove, mix the roasted peanuts and spread on greased tray.
  8. Make slices while hot with a greased sharp knife
  9. Break the pieces when cold.
  10. Store in air tight containers.

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Note:

  1. If one is unable to cut perfect bars, just break the brittles into random pieces… The crispy bars are what you want.
  2. If one hasn’t got the right consistency, if the brittles are chewy…no worries they are equally good while sticky
  3. If they turned out harder…. they taste like toffees, first suck the jaggery juice and then eat the peanuts.

Come along, Life is all about positivity.