Pakistani Sohan Halwa A Sweet Treat Steeped in Tradition

Pakistani sohan halwa is a decadent dessert with a rich history, originating from the city of Multan. This melt-in-your-mouth confection is more than just a sweet treat; it’s a cultural icon and a cherished part of Pakistani cuisine.

A Unique Flavor Profile

Sohan halwa boasts a unique flavor profile that combines sweetness with a subtle nuttiness. The base is typically made with full-fat milk, sugar, and clarified butter (desi ghee). Cardamom adds a warm, aromatic touch, and the magic truly happens with the addition of various nuts and sometimes even saffron. Popular varieties include:

  • Akhroti Sohan Halwa: Bursting with walnuts and cardamom fragrance.
  • Mixed Dry Fruit Sohan Halwa: A delightful mix of pistachios, almonds, and walnuts.
  • Badami Sohan Halwa: Almonds take center stage in this version.
  • Zafrani Sohan Halwa: Luxurious with a double layer of nuts and the musky aroma of saffron.

Origins of Sohan Halwa

Sohan Halwa is a classic dessert with roots in Persia and the Indian subcontinent. It is said to have originated in the city of Multan, located in Punjab, Pakistan. Multan is famous for its historic and cultural heritage, as well as its culinary delights. The sweet is also popular in other regions of Pakistan, such as Sindh, and in India as well.

While there is some debate about the exact origin of Sohan Halwa, one thing is certain: it has become an integral part of Pakistani culture. The dessert’s name “Sohan Halwa” is derived from the Persian word “halwa,” meaning “sweet,” and it is known for its signature sticky, caramelized texture.

Ingredients and Flavor Profile

The primary ingredients of Pakistani Sohan Halwa include:

  • Sugar: Sugar is a key component in creating the caramelized base of the halwa.
  • Wheat flour: Wheat flour provides structure and texture to the dessert.
  • Ghee: Clarified butter, known as ghee, adds a rich flavor and aroma.
  • Water: Water is used to dissolve the sugar and form a syrup.
  • Nuts: Almonds and pistachios are common additions, giving the halwa a crunchy texture and nutty flavor.
  • Cardamom: Ground cardamom adds a delightful fragrance and taste.
  • Rosewater: A splash of rosewater enhances the aroma and adds a hint of floral flavor.

The combination of these ingredients results in a rich, sweet dessert with a chewy, sticky texture and a crunchy bite from the nuts. The flavor profile is sweet, nutty, and aromatic, with hints of cardamom and rosewater.

The Art of Making Sohan Halwa

Making Sohan Halwa is an intricate process that requires skill and patience. The dessert is often made in large batches and involves careful preparation to achieve the perfect consistency and flavor. Here’s a step-by-step guide to making Sohan Halwa at home:

Prepare the Sugar Syrup

  • In a large pot, combine sugar and water.
  • Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring continuously until the sugar dissolves and forms a thick syrup.
  • Add cardamom powder to the syrup and continue to cook for a few minutes.

Roast the Wheat Flour

  • In a separate pan, heat ghee over medium heat.
  • Add wheat flour to the ghee and roast it until it turns golden brown, stirring continuously.

Combine the Ingredients

  • Slowly pour the sugar syrup into the roasted wheat flour while stirring continuously.
  • Cook the mixture over medium-low heat until it thickens and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Add Nuts and Flavoring

  • Add chopped almonds, pistachios, and rosewater to the mixture.
  • Stir well to incorporate the nuts and flavoring evenly.

Spread and Set

  • Transfer the halwa mixture to a greased tray or dish.
  • Spread the mixture evenly and press it down with a spatula.
  • Allow the halwa to cool and set completely.

Cut and Serve

  • Once the halwa has cooled and set, cut it into squares or diamond shapes.
  • Serve the Sohan Halwa with tea or enjoy it as a standalone dessert.

Regional Variations of Sohan Halwa

Sohan Halwa may vary slightly in flavor and preparation depending on the region in Pakistan. Here are some regional variations:

  • Multan: Multan is famous for its Sohan Halwa, known for its rich, nutty flavor and perfect texture. Multani Sohan Halwa is often considered the gold standard for this dessert.
  • Karachi: Karachi has its own take on Sohan Halwa, often incorporating more nuts and dried fruits for added flavor and texture.
  • Hyderabad: In Hyderabad, Sohan Halwa may include additional spices such as saffron or even coconut, giving it a unique twist.
  • Lahore: Lahore’s Sohan Halwa is known for its generous use of ghee and a smoother texture.

Enjoying Sohan Halwa

Sohan Halwa is a versatile dessert that can be enjoyed in various ways:

  • With Tea: Pair Sohan Halwa with a cup of chai for a delightful afternoon treat.
  • As a Gift: Sohan Halwa makes a thoughtful gift during festivals and special occasions.
  • After Meals: Serve Sohan Halwa as a sweet ending to a meal.
  • With Ice Cream: For a modern twist, enjoy Sohan Halwa with a scoop of vanilla or saffron ice cream.

Health Considerations

While Sohan Halwa is undeniably delicious, it is also high in sugar and calories due to its rich ingredients. As with any sweet treat, it should be enjoyed in moderation, especially for those watching their sugar intake. Consider portion control and enjoy Sohan Halwa as an occasional indulgence.


Pakistani Sohan Halwa is a beloved traditional dessert that continues to enchant with its rich flavors and unique texture. Whether you enjoy it as a special treat or share it with loved ones, Sohan Halwa is a dessert that brings joy and satisfaction. Its combination of sweet, nutty, and aromatic flavors makes it a must-try for anyone with a sweet tooth. Try making Sohan Halwa at home and experience the taste of Pakistani culinary heritage

Alex Ainslie

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