RAWALPINDI: The chilly winter weather is an excuse to indulge one’s sweet tooth, and in the garrison city there is hardly a better sweet option than traditional Panjeeri.
In Punjab, Panjeeri is usually given to new mothers as it is said to be highly nutritious and aids in fortifying breast milk. Sweet shops in Pindi prepare this dish – with some alterations – for all and sundry and it has been a popular delicacy among people from all walks of life.
Made of semolina, sugar, almonds, walnuts, desi ghee and others herbs; this dry and crunchy sweet treat is quite similar to sooji ka halwa, which is available at nearly all sweet shops from Murree Road to Saddar and Raja Bazaar.
This halwa concoction is quite popular in the garrison city
“We make two types of the Panjeeri; one exclusively for nursing mothers, which contains herbs such as Phul Makhanay and Kamar Kas, which is nutritious and beneficial for nursing mothers. We make simple Panjeeri for everyone else,” says Mohammad Khalid, the owner of a sweet shop on Murree Road, near Telli Mohallah.
He said that Panjeeri was a nutritious dish that could keep people warm in the winters as it contains almonds, desi ghee, nuts and semolina.
He said the dish was prepared along traditional recipes for hundreds of years and has been considered a nutritious breakfast or evening tea item.
Saeed Ahmad, who owns a sweet shop in Saddar, said that Panjeeri was made only in the winter, but some people also wanted to have it in summer for breakfast.
Since it was heavily laced with nuts, there was a misperception that it could only be consumed in the winter. “We use pure clarified butter instead of vegetable oil in the halwa. We use small quantities of clarified butter just to add to the taste and fry all the nuts and semolina in it,” he said.
“I always want to eat this dry halwa, but in my house, there is a perception that it was meant for women only. But since this crunchy and mouth-watering dish was introduced by sweet shops, I’ve been quite happy,” said Mohammad Shahnawaz, a customer at a sweet shop in Saddar.
Another resident, Raja Irfan, said that in the winter, there were many options for the people to taste something sweet and Panjeeri was good for children who had a sweet tooth. It is a good traditional alternate for chocolate and candies, he said.