Food Spot Metroplus

The war of the ghewar

Snapshots of shops selling ghewar. Photo: Mohammed Yousuf

Snapshots of shops selling ghewar. Photo: Mohammed Yousuf   | Photo Credit: Mohammed_Yousuf

Is Sonepat ghewar the best you can ever get or Alwar’s or perhaps Jaipur’s? Like kababs, people continue to fight over the best ghewar

I don’t know if you are aware of this, but there’s a war raging in parts of Delhi. This is called the war of the ghewar. Like biryanis and kababs, and bedmis and kachoris, there are many players in this battle. And they are all fighting over which ghewar from which part of the country is the best you can ever get.

For those who came in late, let me tell you a bit about ghewar. This is a sweet dish that you get in many parts of the north, mostly in the rainy season. It is prepared with a mildly fermented batter of flour and water, which is placed in a lattice-like mould and fried. Once that’s done, it’s dipped in sugar syrup. That’s the basic ghewar, but over the years, sweetmeat makers have come up with all kinds of variations – ghewar with malai or rabri (thickened milk) or khoya (solidified milk). They garnish these with slivers of pistas or almonds, and strands of saffron for colour and flavour.

Earlier this week, when the rains came down heavily after a prolonged period of sulks, I yearned for some ghewar, which was one of the few sweets I got to eat while growing up in my village in Muzaffarnagar (not counting the kheer that came swimming in ghee, or do I mean ghee that came swimming in kheer?).

Once the ghewar bug bites, you can’t do anything but go looking for it. I went to one of my favourite sweetshops outside Old Delhi – Kaleva in Gole Market. And I picked up three kinds of ghewars – the simple, traditional one), one topped with malai and the third with malai and saffron. There was a fourth kind which I didn’t buy – and that was a layered ghewar. The rates vary between Rs 460 and Rs 600.

I thought all the varieties were excellent. I know of die-hard ghewar fans who prefer the simple variety, but I must say I enjoy the rabri one, too. The plain ghewar was delicious – nice and crunchy – but the ones with the thick layer of rabri gave the sweet an additional kick. I bit into the latticed network, along with the creamy top, and decided it was a delicious way of making two paths meet.

But to get back to the battle, I find that people are still quarrelling over the best ghewar they’ve ever eaten. It reminds me a bit of the fight that people have over kababs – the Lucknow-wallah will never concede that the kababs of Meerut are better than those from Awadh land (they are, believe me, and this has nothing to do with my Meerut roots). For ghewar, there are as many schools of thought. Some hold that the Sonepat ghewar is the best you can ever get, others scoff and say that Alwar’s, or perhaps Jaipur’s, is better. People from Bulandshahr laugh their heads off at that, holding that their ghewar is the best in the country.

I am one of the peace-loving people who believe that a thousand flowers should bloom. And let a thousand ghewars flourish as well.

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Printable version | May 29, 2020 7:54:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/the-war-of-the-ghewar/article7460817.ece

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