Silver foil or Varakh or Warq is a thin layer made from pure silver, used for garnishing sweet delicacies. Most of the sweets in Indian cuisine are decorated with silver foil to make them look attractive. Even some fruits, fennel seeds, and Indian paan (made with betel nuts and leaves) varieties are also coated with silver foil.
Making silver foil
Silver foil can be made either mechanically or manually. But in Hyderabad it is made in a traditional way, by manual hammering. A small piece of silver is taken and continuously hammered until it becomes thin layer. The thickness of silver foils varies from 0.2 microns to 10 microns.
Silver foil production in Hyderabad started long back in 18th century during the reign of Mahboob Ali Pasha, the sixth Nizam of Asif Zahi dynasty. Silversmiths from several areas including Pembarti, Pachees Bazaar (Siddipet) and other areas of Deccan migrated to Hyderabad to do this work. You can find most of the migrants in the Sonar Galli in the Dabirpura area of Old city. Later some of the silversmiths moved to other areas around the Charminar.
Near Charminar, the historical monument of Hyderabad, you can find many shops where people sit for hours, continuously hammering a book of sheets to make silver foils. On the way to Shah-ali banda from Charminar, you can come across many small and old shops where people make silver foils without the help of any machines. You will be surprised by their art of making silver foils, which are thinner than an onion skin, with hands.
Types of silver foils
Silver Foils are available in different varieties such as sprinkles (in powder form) to dust sweet dishes, petals (shape of leaf) to garnish single sweets, and leaflets (rectangle shaped long foil) to decorate any sweet dish.
A pack of 160 silver foils costs any where between Rs.100 to Rs.200. However, as the silver rate keeps on changing, the price of silver foils may vary based on the market price of silver. But if we consider the beauty and art in making such thin glittering sheet, the given price is definitely less.
Most of the shop owners in Old city area sell good quality silver foils in packets. However, there are a few shops that cheat customers by making silver foils using other metals. So, make sure that you purchase at shops that are famous and 50 years old to get good quality and original silver foils.
Benefits of having sweets with silver foil
Besides being used as a decorative item for sweet items, the silver foil also provides a few health benefits like –
- Makes physically and mentally fit
- Stimulates natural immunity
- Helps boost digestion and metabolism
- Prevents infections
- Improves complexion of skin
- Fights allergies and ill effects of pollution
- Used in Medicines, Beauty products
- Used in religious occasions and other ceremonies
How to reach the silver foil market
Whenever you visit Charminar or Laad Bazaar, take a look at the surrounding to see the silver foil shops. After crossing Charminar, you will find a lane with a series of shops. APSTRC buses are well connected to this place from all parts of the city. You can also avail the auto-rickshaw services to reach this place.