The silver lining of Indian sweets



Whenever there’s party spirit in the air, you can be sure that somewhere in your town, Varq is hard at work. You may not know Varq by name, but you certainly recognize the twinkling sight. Also known as Chandi Ka Varq (or Warq), these micro-thin, tasteless silver foils are made of the precious metal and are the crown jewel of every Indian sweet.

India’s fascination with Varq goes back centuries. It is available in silver and the most expensive and coveted golden version that chefs and pastry chefs use to brown everything from mithai to paan or walnuts and biryani. Any dish that makes it to a party table is fair game to be sprinkled with sprinkles.

But while visually stunning, Varq isn’t just an aesthetic choice. The decision to use real silver and gold to dress dishes sometimes dates back to ancient times when Ayurvedic texts recommended silver as a purifying addition to food. Every modern medicine has confirmed that silver has antimicrobial properties that can be medicinal. Other texts claim that the tradition originated in Persia where the gilding of food with silver and gold paint was common. Despite the uncertainty of his origins, one thing about Varq that is consistent is the fact that he was perfected during Mughal rule.

Also read: This gold and silver plated Paan costing INR 760 left the internet intrigued

Meanwhile, the northern Indian kingdoms incorporated Varq into daily palace life. Varq would be placed on all dishes as a form of insulation, it also served to protect the royal court as they could easily see if the food had been tampered with in any way. Silver Varq is also used to maintain food hygiene by repelling dust that could contaminate food. As an added bonus, of course, it was also a status marker with royalty throwing rich Varq-laden feasts to impress their guests.

Traditionally, Varq was made by goldsmiths and craftsmen who hand-hammered real silver into sheets 1/8,000 of a millimeter thick. These sheets were then placed on paper as a support and only peeled off at the last moment. Today, production efficiency is much greater since the advent of machine-made Varq which can do the same job with more precise quality. Unfortunately, this has led to a decline in the proliferation of the craft itself, with Varq makers being very rare.

Another questionable retrofit is the fake Vsrq which is not silver but a form of very thin aluminum foil which is definitely not safe for consumption. Food-grade Varq must be sterling silver or 22-karat 24-karat gold and naturally come with a price to match, so the fake version is becoming all too common these days. There is a quick test though and if the Varq leaves residue on your finger when you touch it, that’s a sign it’s not real.

We’ve made Varq such a regular part of our lives that it’s barely thought about on a day-to-day basis, but this simple adornment has a record that spans empires and is still a living part of history. So before you dig into that pile of Kaju Katli, take a moment to remember Varq’s rich and fascinating journey.

Source link


Comments are closed.