Ministry of Commerce and Industry clarifies standard specifications number 1635 for making Omani Halwa
Nouriya Al Kharousia:
The materials used in manufacturing have to conform with the standard specifications. They have to be free of colors and preservatives other than the original colour resulted by the use of saffron.
Use of any material for sweetening is prohibited, except white and brown sugar and date syrup. It should not have mineral and vegetable oils
Omani Halwa is local traditional dessert or sweet product inherited generation after generation in Oman. Its characteristics must be preserved and protect from any change. The Omani standard No. 1635 for Omani Halwa was issued under the ministerial decision no. 104/2004 for the purpose. If any of the conditions and specifications of these standards would be missing from the sweet, it would not be called Omani Halwa. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry tried to convert these Omani specifications into a unified Gulf standard and was successful in its effort. These specifications were accepted in the Gulf region as GSO 1873 expanding the ambit of its preservation.
Nouriya Bint Sulaiman bin Zaher Al Kharousia, director of standards in the Directorate General of Standards and Metrology, said: The standard specification No.1635 for Omani Halwa covers all of its types. In the case of white Halwa, the sweetener is white sugar and the saffron added to it would result in dark creamy colour. In yellow Halwa, white sugar and saffron would be added resulting in its being reddish yellow, yellowish red or saffron colour. For the purpose, natural saffron would be added. In black Halwa, sweetening substance would be brown sugar or molasses or a mixture of white sugar and saffron so that it become dark brown.
How to prepare Omani Halwa:
To prepare Omani Halwa add sugary material in boiling water and stir. Then add tapioca starch soaked in the water and continue stirring till it becomes gelatinous. Then add rose water, saffron, cardamom, walnuts and almonds according to the type Halwa. Heat it till it becomes thick gelatine. Make sure that it does not become hard. You can use some other materials such as a small amount of fresh eggs, fresh and boiled milk to remove sugar impurities on the surface during cooking according to the best practice of manufacturing.
Conditions for achieving conformity
Nouriya Al Kharousia said that there were conditions which must be taken into account when producing Omani Halwa to achieve conformity. The raw materials must be in accordance with their own specifications, and be free of colored materials and preservatives except the color resulting from the addition of saffron or adding natural color of saffron. It must be free of pig derivatives. Frankincense, honey, figs, sesame and any other component are not allowed to be used for the Halwa. For the purpose only those components are allowed to be used which are mentioned in the standard standard No.1635 for Omani Halwa. For sweetening not other material can be used except white sugar, brown sugar or date syrups. It should be free of mineral oils, vegetable oils or animal fats other than animal ghee. No nuts, other than peeled almonds and peeled walnuts, can be used. In addition to this, the starch used shall be from wheat (tapioca) and suitable for human consumption. Also cardamom, rose water and saffron can be used as per the requirement of the type of the Omani Halwa.
She said: A number of data must be written on each package distributed commercially. But this condition is not applicable for special orders. The required details which should be present on the packaging are: name of the product (Omani Halwa) and its type, list of ingredients, approximate weight, name of the manufacturer and the address, "Made in Oman", production date and expiry date not exceeding the shelf life of 3 months from the date of production, nutritional data per 100 g (energy- protein - total fat- trans fat- saturated fat - - carbohydrates - total sugars - sodium fiber). It should also mention the components which can cause hypersensitivity (eg "Contains nuts almond / coconut").
Packing the product:
Nouriya Al Kharoushia said that the product must have packings which are clean, dry and can be sealed so that it does not lead to any contamination or changes in the characteristics of the product. When packaging or covering the Halwa packages, one should make should make sure it was not hot so that the water vapor remains inside and expedite damaging. She said that there are standard Gulf Omani standards, especially the requirements related to food packages such as the standard No. 839 for food packages Part I: General requirements and the standard No. 1863 for food packages Part II: plastic packaging General requirements has to be taken into account while packing Omani Halwa. (ENDS)