Everything you need to know about Bal Mithai!
The serene and peaceful beauty of Uttarakhand and the snow-capped mountains between which it stands offer comfort and peace to all. The singing of the birds, the breath of fresh air, the impressive surroundings and the clear blue sky amazes us and amazes us all. However, Uttarakhand is not just about its natural beauty. It is also known for its rustic but delicious food and offers a wide range of cuisines and specialties. One of those delicacies found mainly in Uttarakhand alone is the humble but delicious Bal Mithai.
Bal Mithai is a brown chocolate like a sweet and gooey treat. It is made with 'khoa' (dry whole milk) and is covered with white sugar balls. It is a popular and most sought after sweet in the Almora district of Uttarakhand. It is one of the favorite sweets of ordinary people and the people who live there.
Bal Mithai is believed to have reached Almora from Nepal in the 7th or 8th century. It continued to be modified and the invention of its current version could be attributed to Lala Joga Ram Shah of Lal Bazaar, Almora. Joga Ram Shah used to obtain a special type of milk from the village of Phalsima to prepare her Bal Mithai. The town of Phalsima was known for its dairy products. At that time, Bal Mithai was coated in Khas Khas or Poppy Seeds that used to give it a distinctive flavor. Over the years, rapid commercialization and cost-cutting movements led local merchants to replace the original khas khas with simple sugar balls. Bal Mithai is also believed to have been a favorite among British officers posted on Almora at the time. There are sources suggesting that they used to exchange Bal Mithais on Christmas Eve. According to a document, it was also shipped to Britain.
Over the years, the sweet has found its home in many Kumaoni stories and folklore, emerging from the Kumaon milieu. Shivani, a popular Indian writer of 20th century Hindu fiction, also mentioned Bal Mithai in one of her writings, in which she recalls the Almora bazaar and the lane filled with smells of local sweets and the Jogalal Shah Halwai store. Baal Mithai has long been a specialty of the Kumaon Hills, and today it has become a delicacy in many other places.
Here is a quick recipe to make Bal Mithai home!
1. Khoya- 1 kg
2. Sugar- 400 gms
3. White sugar balls- 100 gms
Cook Khoya over low, steady heat and stir continuously until its color turns dark brown and chocolate. Add sugar and cook until thick. Then pour the mixture onto a greased tray and allow it to cool. Cut into rectangular pieces and pour it on the sugar balls. Your homemade Bal Mithai is ready to serve!