The urge to create something tangible is deeply human. A connection with tradition, an art which has been handed over decades, centuries or even longer. Food plays a significant role in a person’s life and some of the recipes have been secrets handed down only in the family. Many of the dishes we make today have been handed to us by our ancestors. Most of them carry the history that makes us proud of them
The art of making Seviyan is one such interesting tradition which we chanced upon during our walk around the Old City of Hyderabad.
As you cross the bridge over the Musi River towards Chaderghat and head over to the Local Lorry Stand, a curtain of fine strands of Seviyan greets you. Families still practicing the age-old tradition of handmade Seviyan reside here and the recipes are handed down as a family heirloom. These recipes are guarded with a sense of pride and makes them proud of the work they have been doing since generations.
Nowadays machines make every task easier and at a much budget friendly pricing, we wondered why some of the makers of Seviyan still stick to the manual way of making them. Anwar Khan, one of the Seviyan makers replied proudly “The machine made ones can never replace the taste that comes from the ones made by us do to our hard work”
We spent an entire day interacting with Anwar Khan on his art and the man is a textbook of history. He’s seen Hyderabad grow before his own eyes as his father taught him the art of Seviyan making right at the age of 12-13 years. He’s been making this delicacy for nearly 30 years and is already teaching his son to get into the family trade too.
A third generation Seviyan maker in the family, he told us the story of how his grandfather had set up shop in Hyderabad to start practicing this profession during the rule of the Nizams. He recollects his father’s stories of how the Nizam used to fly down in their private plane to Imlibun (Now MGBS) while they flocked to see the plane landing. His grandfather had then worked in the Nizam’s kitchen making Seviyan for the royal guests.
Now as he starts talking about the Seviyan, his main profession, he is proud of the secret ingredient. He tells us his Seviyan is different from the other makers from all over India because he adds a little bit of salt along with the maida and water. That extra bit of salt stands out and enhances the taste to a whole another level.
A lot of strength is required to be pull the maida, to stretch it out to the finer strands and it takes a maximum of 3-5 minutes to dry out which is then rolled out and sold to the nearby traders. Below is a video of Anwar Khan as he makes a batch to be dried out.
Seviyan is best had with milk, dry fruits, khova and a little bit of ghee. It’s quite rich and is a specialty during the holy month of Ramzan. So much is the demand during Ramzan that he sells nearly 1-2 tons worth of Seviyan in that one month alone. But handcrafted Seviyan is slowly fading out with these white rolls of delicious sweet being churned at a much faster rate by machines. When a machine-made roll of Seviyan can be available in the market for 40-50 rupees the same for a handmade one goes for 180-200 rupees.
Seviyan can be used in a variety of purposes, sweet and savory. A lot of them prefer to use them in their various kheer recipes, while you can make a great upma and other savory dishes with it too.
But the art of making Seviyan is one to witness. Handcrafted stuff like these have been around for generations and we really hope they don’t fade away with history. Below is a video of Anwar Khan and his wife as they stretch out the seviyan to dry at their home.