By Ummara Zubair
Rainbows in the sky aren’t a rare sight but few of us have been able to experience their true beauty from close by. Visit a Mithai shop in Pakistan and you will have just that experience!. Vibrant, distinct colours and flavors will surround you, giving you a real insight into Pakistan’s rich culture and heritage. In Pakistani culture Mithai is a symbol of celebration, joy, and authenticity. Mithai is the Urdu word for sweets and they are enjoyed not only as desserts, but also in between meals.
In a mithai shop you will find an exquisite display of color, taste, shape and flavour. Although the major ingredients in most of the mithai are flour, sugar, butter (ghee), milk, and khoya (a by-product of milk), all Mithais taste very different and each kind has a uniqueness of its own. In order to enhance variety, several types of lentil flours are used along with cardamom, rose water, saffron, and kewra. Almonds, Pistachios, and other nuts are also added for decoration and nutrition. In line with the celebration of Eid, we rounded up Pakistan’s most loved Mithai for you to try!
Gulab Jamun is a universal favourite! It is impossible to resist the velvety and smooth balls of milk that immediately melt in your mouth. This delicacy is made of khoya/dry powdered milk, and then submerged in the sweet rose water syrup. They come in different shades of brown and are either round or oval in shape. Don’t be surprised if you end up eating a dozen in one sitting...
Cham Cham is prepared with paneer (desi cheese), sugar, and sugar syrup and sometimes covered with finely shredded coconut flakes.The bright, eye-catching colours and delicate texture make it an all-age favourite! It is popular both simple or filled with a layer of khoya inside.
Barfi is a special kind of Mithai made with milk and sugar and often garnished with almonds, pistachio, and chandi ka waraq (pure silver edible sheets). It comes in square, heart and diamond shapes and is not only a delight to the eyes but extremely delectable to the taste buds. There are some special Barfi shops in the old city of Lahore where you can get the true Lahori experience!
A creamy, rich dessert bound to leave you addicted. Based in milk and rice, Kheer is infused with typical Desi flavours like cardamom, saffron and almond. The Kheer is then placed in small, clay dishes called thootiyan, in which they set and become a panna-cotta-like consistency. Absolute royalty...
Having read about all these sweet wonders, you must be convinced that a mithai shop will show you all colours of the spectrum however, if you are looking for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, you will not be disappointed. Laddus are made of tiny gold pearls formed into a round ball. They are an integral part of any celebration in Pakistan - whether it’s a wedding, graduation party, a new baby or the annual Eid festival, Laddus will always be present!
Eid is a time of celebration and togetherness and mithai is a symbol of exactly that. Each and every mithai has its own unique flavour and speciality that makes it perfect for its purpose! What will you try next?