Marking the end of days of fasting and the holy month of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr is the most joyous festival for Muslims across the world. For hundreds of expatriates from South Asia living in Qatar, it also brings with it that added delight of savouring some of the best traditional delicacies from their own countries.
And Halwa Puri is the biggest hit on Eid days. People flock the outlets in town selling this deep-fried bread served with a traditional sweet and chickpeas.
This time again, long queues appeared in front of Pakistan Sweets, the 50-year-old sweets’ outlet that continues to be a huge attraction for the local communities particularly those from the subcontinent.
Moved to a bigger and a better location in Ghanim Qadeer near KFC from its original location in Mushreib, the shop catered to an even bigger audience this year than it normally does.
“People started lining up outside the shop right after the Eid prayers early morning. Dozens of them had already booked their orders on phone the night before and collected their orders early morning even before the Eid prayers,” said the owner of Pakistan Sweets, Nabil Ismail.
There is no compromise on taste. And when it comes to taste, the 50-year-old Pakistan Sweets offers the best option available in town. People wait for hours under the scorching sun to get their share of the Halwa Puri.
“We try to accommodate as many people as possible and try not to send anybody empty-handed on this big day. This time we had prepared more puris and halwa than we used to do at our old shop,” said Ismail.
He opened the shop early in the morning, soon after the Eid prayers, and people started arriving immediately. His estimate was that the stock of Halwa Puris, for which they have been preparing ingredients over the night, will last about three hours. It lasted two and a half.
On the first three days of Eid, it is just too many people, says Ismail, adding that Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi and Nepali expatriates just love Halwa Puri and Channay (chickpeas gravy) in breakfast on Eid.
Inside the shop, they sell traditional sweets. People get gift boxes in dozens of many different varieties of Pakistani sweets prepared in what they call ‘desi ghee’, or clarified butter.
Having limited seating capacity, the shop did not open the dine-in option for visitors and they had to rely only on take-away option. Ismail says he also gets a number of Qatari locals in his audience besides the people from sub-continent.
Other than Halwa Puri, this old shop is known for its Pakistani street food such as samosas (a baked pastry with savoury filling), which Ismail says are particularly popular among the Nepali community.
He has also introduced many new varieties to the collection of traditional sweets including popular recipes from the food capital of Pakistan, Lahore.
These include the mouth-watering Pakistani Dahi Bhalay, Qulfi, Kheer (all milk and yogurt-based dishes), dry fruit halwas, and others.
Pakistan Sweets, Ismail says, has established its reputation for authentic taste in street food delicacies such as Gol Gappay, Lahori Pura and other street food using 12 different kinds of spices.
“We prepare our sweets and other street food delicacies in Pakistani traditional style using the same recipes and ingredients. So it’s an authentic Pakistani taste that you would get from our sweets,” he adds.
They have also introduced gift packing for the sweets, as well as smaller sizes of boxes for sweets, on public demand. In sweets, they have introduced new varieties of halwas that include walnut and coconut and other dry fruit halwas.
Two of the most popular desserts from Pakistan, Falooda and Qulfi Falooda also proved to be very popular among the visitors coming to the shop yesterday. Customers also savour the traditional Firni, says Ismail.
Apart from Eid and other special occasions, Pakistan Sweets offers Halwa Puri breakfast every day. But Fridays are special. Fridays witness a similar rush of people starting early morning. Besides Halwa Puri and Channay, the bakery and sweet shop has also on offer different varieties of Pakistani sweets, ranging from Rasmalai, Gulab Jaman, Rus Gulay, Dhoodh Halwa, and Coconut Halwa.
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