Kozhikode Halwa: A Peek Into The Iconic Sweet And Its Types
Image Credit: Omanorama

Kozhikodan halwa is a popular Keralite offering originating from the coastal city of Calicut or Kozhikode, is a mildly sweet, sticky sweetmeat available all over the state. With its 16th century origins tracing back to the time when Arab traders made their way to the coast with their traditional sweets, the halwa has since been adapted to suit local palettes and incorporate easily available ingredients.

This buttery-soft sweet that is sold in blocks of various colours like red, yellow, green and brown, is made with a handful of ingredients – flour, water, sugar, coconut oil, cardamom and plenty of chopped up cashews. When specialty fruits like mangoes are in season, fruit pulp is also added to these sweets that you can find in just about any bakery. So much was the popularity of this sweet halwa in the Gulf, that the Arabs loaded boxes of them in uru boats to export back to their country; eventually drawing admiration from the British and Portuguese colonies that settled in after.

In the contemporary age, the Kozhikode halwa has since evolved into various sweet-makers experimenting with flavours like passion fruit, tapioca and even a spicy variant spiked with chilli powder in it. Let us take a quick look at some of the variants that have contributed to the growing popularity of this sweetmeat.

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How The Obscure Kozhikode Halwa Went From A Local Delicacy To A Craze

Banana Halwa

Prepared with ripe bananas slow-cooked with sugar and coconut oil, this authentic offering is a native of the North Malabar region. Prepared with a specific variety of bananas known as nendrapazham, the ripe fruit is mashed to a fine paste with cardamom and ghee. This halwa variety has also gained fans along the coastal areas of Karnataka.

Dates Halwa

One of the most beloved halwa variants among all Kozhikodan halwa, is a recipe that was adapted by the Muslims to feature as part of their iftar spread during the month of Ramzan. Made with pitted and mashed dates, that is combined with jaggery and ghee before being slow-cooked, the halwa has a caramel-like flavour when it finishes cooking.

One of the original halwa types from Calicut, this cardamom-flavoured, bright orange halwa is usually made with plenty of chopped cashews added to the mixture while cooking. The orange halwa is mildly sweet in taste and the most-often sold variety around sweet shops and bakeries in Kozhikode.

Black Halwa

This traditional halwa type is not just famous in Kerala, but also across the Indian subcontinent. Served in Kerala during weddings and special occasions, the black halwa has a jelly-like texture and is lush with coconut oil. It is also sweeter in taste when compared to the other types of halwa and is now also available in a sugar-free option in many places.

Tender Coconut Halwa

If you’re a coconut lover, then this halwa made with the tender coconut ‘malai’ and plenty of cocnut oil, is an off-white, soft halwa. Unlike the halwa made in Tirunelveli where ghee is used to work with the same recipe, this variant of Calicut halwa is loaded with coconut oil, cardamom and sugar.