Ghewar Trail in Sonepat
By Anubhav Sapra
It started with a query on the Delhi Food Walks Facebook page and Instagram – “Where do you get the best ghewar in Delhi?” Most of the respondents answered unanimously Chaina Ram in Fatehpuri chowk as the best ghewar. The second most popular recommendation, however piqued our interest with the answer being Sonepat. After a brief interaction with ghewar lovers on social media listing out all the known places in Sonepat for Ghewar, I headed on a ghewar trail last Sunday from Delhi to Sonepat. A good friend of mine, Naman helped me in exploring the places in Sonepat.
Ghewar is a traditional monsoon sweet dish, popular in Rajasthan, Delhi, Haryana, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh. The basic ingredients are all purpose flour, sugar, milk and ghee. First you will need to make a thin smooth batter using refined flour and milk. Next you slowly pour the batter into a ‘kadhai’ or a wok of boiling ghee or Vanaspati, all the while separating the fried batter to the side of the cooking utensil. Once fried, it is dipped in sugar syrup or it can simply be poured on top and drained with the help of a wire mesh.
There are different varieties of ghewar- kesar ghewar ( flavoured with saffron ), milk ghewar ( the batter is made using milk ), malai or mawa ghewar ( a layer of mawa/rabri is added over the top of the ghewar and garnished with dry fruits ) white ghewar ( simple ghewar – the batter is made with water with no milk in it). The sizes and shapes also vary– some of them are heart shaped while other could be round or squared; simply achieved by using different moulds and the sizes could vary from small to the huge ‘fit for a king’ kind.
The Ghewar trail in Sonepat started with Shaant sweets corner. The shop is located inside a lane on Geeta Bhawan chowk. I tried a medium sized Kesar- Mawa Ghewar garnished with raisins, pistachios and chironji. This one was a mouthful of sugar, sugar and sugar. The ‘mithas’ or sweetness was literally dripping out of the ghewar.
Next I moved to the Sonepat bus stand where a number of ghewar shops are lined next to each other. Some of the shops were selling jeans and ghewar at the same place. Such is the popularity of Ghewar in Sonepat. Most of the shops have enormous ghewars there. The rooftops were like ghewar factories producing ghewars by the kilos (probably tonnes). The whole place was working in an assembly line like production- On one corner, a man was pouring the batter of ghewar in a big khadai filled with boiling ghee. The next in line was dipping the ghewar in sugar syrup- ready to be sold to customers. I tried a small bite from the king size ghewar. It was again too sweet to me. The quality and price is less compared to other ghewar shops keeping in mind the moving customer from different district and the shops close proximity to bus stand. We stopped midway at Triloki halwai. Here the barfi is what caught my fancy instead of the ghewar we were really out to taste, but hey Sonepat is a hub for mithai.
Next, we went to the one shop recommended by everyone – R K Sweets in Subhash Chowk. The shop started with selling pakodas but have now diversified into Ghewar. Although they still have a pakodas stall outside the main shop but R K sweets has now become synonymous with ghewar in Sonepat. To compare the taste, we sticked to malai ghewar here as well. It tasted heavenly- not too syrupy plus the quality of the batter and the consistency was really good and again the same toppings except chironji.
We thought that our search for the best Ghewar in Sonipat ended with this but we had picked one more place; Sunder mishtan bhandar in bara bazar. Tucked in the busy lane of Sonipat, the place is known for its quality sweets. At the entrance, one man is seen frying the ghewar, while another is adding the sugar syrup and mawa over it and then finally sprinking a generous helping of dry fruits – mainly chironji, almonds and pistachios. This was the best ghewar I had in Sonepat- one, it was fresh. Two, it was not too sweet, the sugar was completely drained out of it. Three, it was crisp and soft at the same time-that shows that it was fried just perfectly. Four, the quality of mawa was excellent, slightly grainy – adding a nice texture to the ghewar. Five, the almonds, chironji and pistachios were a better quality than the previous shops.
After a day of doing what I love best and stuffed to the throat, I returned home happily, finally; carrying loads of Ghewar with the belief that Sonepat should be hailed as a Ghewar district of Haryana.