All That Glitters: Beware of Sweets Covered With ‘Chandi Ka Warq’
Should you buy sweets garnished with ‘chandi ka warq’? Are they even safe?
With Dussehra here and Diwali around the corner, sweet shops are glittering with some of their brightest jewels. A range of mithais – from barfi and laddoo to halwa and phirni – will lure consumers, sending Indians on a collective sugar rush! All this festive feasting is fine, but what about all that warq (vark/varq) we consume along with that mithai?
If you notice a little extra shine on your barfi, beware. In a bid to make maximum profits, some are trading chandi ka warq for aluminium foil. Is using warq on mithai safe? How much of it is safe? Should we be avoiding it altogether?
Why Is Chandi Ka Warq Used in Mithai?
We’ve been decorating our sweets with a silver leaf for a really long time now, going back to as far as the Mughal and Awadh times. The warq wasn’t just limited to sweets but made its way to other dishes such as biryani, korma and kebabs. Elaichi, paan and flavoured supari is also often embellished with chandi ka warq.
Silver, and sometimes even gold, is used in sweets, apparently for their health benefit. Silver has been touted as an antimicrobial agent, whereas gold is known to be an aphrodisiac!
Silver has been used in treating a lot of health issues, particularly digestion, in Ayurveda. However, silver reacts differently for different people, and we can’t really pin down any universal health benefits of the metal.Huda Shaikh, Nutritionist and Clinical Dietitian
All Shine no Substance?
It’s not all about the shine and look for the sweet makers. Apparently, the silver leaf improves the shelf-life of mithai and in the absence of preservatives, prevents it from getting contaminated.
BUT the fear of adulteration is also real. Food regulatory authorities warn customers against buying sweets from sources that aren’t trustworthy.
These days it is hard to find authentic silver leaf. Sometimes even animal intestines are used to create a malleable silver foil used in decorating sweets. This leaves remnants of carcass and blood on the foil, rendering it unfit for consumption. As long as it is pure silver foil, it is fine, but not otherwise.Huda Shaikh
So how do you spot the real from the fake? Real silver foil or warq will never roll as is the case with fake ones.
So, this festive season, choose your mithai carefully. Better yet, make it at home!
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