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Heaven in every morsel


NESTLED IN the `vintage-selling' street of Ballimaran area in Delhi's Chandni Chowk, passing through buyers of cloth, rexene and footwear of various hues and kinds, is the historic Haveli Hisamuddin where one can undoubtedly get the country's best Habshi Halwa. Don't go by its name, which sounds African as habshi in Arabic means, a black African. Here, we are talking about a unique sweet mart item! Its colour is dark tan and that explains the name!

Khurram Omer, a regular aficionado of the Halwa vouches that it's a good aphrodisiac and improves a man's "performance"! Well, medically one does not know how sound it is, but some men say that!

It may seem a daunting task getting there, but once the initial hurdles of slow-moving traffic, congestion and the din so typical of Chandni Chowk are overcome, the very look of the Habshi Halwa tickles the sweet tooth in you. The quality and taste of Habshi Halwa is such that it can be equally relished by an 8 month-old child to an elderly man of 80. But be there only from the onset of winter in October to March, for, that is the time it is prepared and sold.

Riding high on the popularity of this lip-smacking sweet dish, Firoz Ahmed of Ghanta Ghar Wala - not to be confused with the Chandni Chowk Ghanta Ghar Wala - has a tradition of preparing special sweets for all occasions. Be it Id, Holi or Diwali, perhaps it is the sole Mughlai sweet mart in the Capital to rise to the occasion. In fact, another of the succulent, matchless dishes sold here used to be Gajar Ka Halwa. Firoz's father the late Mohammed Hanif used to prepare it. In fact, this was a pre-partition favourite.

Even today when Firoz visits Karachi, some of the old residents of the Walled City area tell him of the Gajar Ka Halwa that his father and grandfather used to sell during winter. In fact, Firoz attributes all the success to his father Hanif who knew the `nuskha' - formula - of this Mughlai sweet dish.

Yes, only pure ghee and high quality ingredients are used to make his Habshi Halwa, which is why, he claims, it doesn't cause throat problems. Besides, he handpicks the ingredients from the market and conducts the preparation himself at his haveli at Ballimaran. Milk of high quality is procured from Dadri, Dhakkaur and Sikandrabad for the purpose. Other important ingredients include maida, samnak, saffron, sugar, pure ghee, cashew nuts, almonds, etc. The entire substance is made in a huge kadhai fuelled by wooden logs and not gas cylinder owing to the quality and intensity of fire needed for the Halwa. Customers' grievances are taken very seriously, says Feroz.

When asked about meeting the growing demand for the Halwa or whether he has any desire to expand his business in Delhi or outside, he states, "Khuda ka shukr hai ke ab bhi bahut kaam hai. Aur chahat nahin hai"! (We thank God and feel that this is sufficient).

Firoz narrates an interesting incident that took place during his Haj to Mecca. He was invited for dinner at the house of a co-passenger. After dinner, sweets were served, and Firoz was amazed to see his Habshi Halwa!

The friend requested all present, "Take little amounts of this Habshi Halwa as this is a `tabarruk' (speciality) from Hanif Doodh Waley." That speaks of his Habshi Halwa available at Haveli Hisamuddin at Ballimaran. The contact number is 22927362 and it is worth its price - Rs. 160 per kg. Anyway, you forget the price when it starts melting in your mouth!

Now showing... shoes

WANTED AN exclusive designer footwear store in your city? The wait seems to be over. Inc.5, claiming to have a large collection of footwear both for men and women, has come up at Greater Kailash in New Delhi.

Targeting a niche audience between the age group of 16 to 35 from the upper middle class, the store claims to keep most of the internationally acclaimed footwear brand.

Inc.5 is the incarnation of Regal, the parent company that is in the retail shoe business for five decades.

The store aims at exploring future trends with a choice of colours based on international style and fused with Indian sensibilities. They claim to get 100 design inputs in a day and come out with a new collection every fortnight.

Shiraj Lalani, marketing head, says, "From creating the right atmosphere to a staff well aware, we are aiming at total customer satisfaction by providing them with the best in quality and pricing."

The store established in 1998, claims to have in-house brands designed by its designer, Almas Nanda, under the name Fruit and Raspberry, Stephanie and Galaday. It also boasts of international brands like Caterpillar, Rockport, Florsheim, Church's, Roche, Manchester, Red Tape, Lee Cooper and Magnanni. It also aims at providing Western and Indian ethnic outfits, costume, jewellery and accessories like bags and belt.

The store manager, Vishal Rehan says, "We aim at serving the customer in a different manner and at our store, shopping is an enjoyable experience. Almost 80 per cent of our products are for women and remaining cater to men."

If they are as good as their word, they are jogging on the right track.

FIROZ BAKHT AHMED

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