How Kozhikode Halwa Went From A Local Delicacy To A Craze
Image Credit: Kozhikode Halwa | Image Credit: Google

Traditional Kozhikode Halwa has evolved from a regional treat to a statewide phenomenon. Originating in the coastal city of Kozhikode in the southern Indian state of Kerala, this sweet sensation has taken the street food scene by storm and has become a must-try for those looking for a taste of traditional Indian cuisine. With its rich history and delectable flavor, Kozhikode Halwa is more than just a dessert; it's a cultural experience waiting to be savored.

The origins of Kozhikode halwa can be traced back to the 16th century, when Arab traders brought their traditional sweets to the region. Over time, the local population adapted the recipe to suit their tastes and ingredients, resulting in the creation of the Kozhikode halwa we know today.

The traditional Kozhikode halwa is made of just a few simple ingredients: water, sugar, corn starch, coconut oil, citrus salt, and flavorings. The exact ratio of each ingredient varies from proprietor to proprietor, which is why no two blocks of halwa are the same. Halwas are typically sold in bakeries, carved out and weighed on demand from huge blocks that can weigh up to 50 kilograms.

For many years, Kozhikode halwa remained a local delicacy, enjoyed only by the people of Kozhikode and the surrounding areas. However, in recent years, the popularity of this sweet treat has skyrocketed, and it has become a staple in street food stalls and sweet shops across the state of Kerala.

One reason for the sudden rise in popularity of Kozhikode halwa is its unique flavor. Unlike other sweets that are often overly sweet and overpowering, Kozhikode halwa has a delicate sweetness that is perfectly balanced with the flavorings, citrus salt, and coconut oil used in the recipe. The result is a sweet treat that is both rich and flavorful yet not too heavy on the palate. 

The texture and sweetness of the halwa vary depending on the type of halwa and the flavoring used. Bakers often alter the texture to better complement the flavor of the halwa; for example, a mango-flavored halwa might have a soft, sticky texture, while a fruit and nut halwa would have a firm, sleek composition.

Another factor contributing to the success of Kozhikode halwa is its versatility. Unlike other sweets that are typically enjoyed as a dessert, Kozhikode halwa can be enjoyed at any time of day, making it a popular snack option for people on the go. Whether it's an early morning breakfast or an afternoon snack, Kozhikode halwa is the perfect treat to satisfy sweet cravings. That said, the sweet treat is typically enjoyed as a teatime snack or as an hors d'oeuvre offered to guests.

The popularity of Kozhikode halwa has also been helped by the rise of social media. With food bloggers and food enthusiasts sharing their love for this sweet treat on social media platforms, the popularity of Kozhikode halwa has reached new heights. From Instagram posts featuring beautifully presented plates of halwa to YouTube videos showcasing the process of making this sweet delicacy, the buzz surrounding Kozhikode halwa continues to grow.

Today, Kozhikode halwa can be found in street food stalls, sweet shops, and even high-end restaurants across Kerala. The demand for this sweet treat has also led to the creation of a variety of flavors, including plantain, guava, chili, and even chicken, making Kozhikode halwa a versatile and beloved sweet across the state.

The most famous halwa shops in the city can be found on Mittayi Theruvu, or Sweet Meat Street. The street gained its namesake during colonial times, when a British viceroy was said to have called a red halwa "sweet meat," a concise description that encompassed both the strange appearance and surprising taste of the confection. There are several halwa shops on the street today, but none more famous than the Sankaran Bakery, a beloved local institution that is nearly a century old. The bakery stocks nearly 40 varieties of halwa at all times, including exotic flavors such as tender coconut, pistachio, pineapple, et al. Shankaran’s also makes halwa with rice and wheat flour, as opposed to the corn starch that is used in typical preparations.

Kozhikode halwa has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a local delicacy in the coastal city of Kozhikode. Today, it is a beloved street food sensation that has captured the hearts and taste buds of people across the state of Kerala. With its unique flavor, versatility, and widespread popularity, Kozhikode halwa is sure to remain a staple in the street food scene for many years to come.