Sweet Authentic Bahrain
BY ANAAM IKRAM
Located in the heart of Muharraq, Hussain Mohammed Showaiter Sweets is a local dessert shop that requires no introduction. Hussain Mohammed Showaiter Sweets has become an integral part of Bahrain’s history, heritage and culture. Popular amongst everyone in the Gulf region, the sweet house is famous for its “Halwa Showaiter”, packed with nuts in a jelly-like consistency. Mohammed Hussain Showaiter, son of founder Hussain Mohammed Showaiter, spoke with Perle Magazine about the deep-rooted history of their business and what it represents.
Starting out circa 1850, Mohammed Hussain Showaiter says the family would come together and make the sweets. At the time only creating two kinds of sweet, men and women in the family would assist in making and selling the ‘halwa Showaiter’. “Everything is made by hand. In the beginning we did not have a shop and the sweets were sold on a wooden hand-made trolley from the house. The fire was created using wood as we did not have stoves” he describes. A delicious combination of rose water, cardamom, sugar, saffron and nuts, the ‘Bahraini Halwa’ to this day is the confectioner’s most requested dessert.
Inspired by Bahrainis fondness towards sweets, especially the traditional ones, the family decided to start making the traditional dessert, Mohammed Hussain Showaiter explains. Joining his father in the business from a very young age, Mohammed Hussain Showaiter says he took a break from the family business for his studies abroad followed by a job in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for 10 years before joining the family business once again. Sharing responsibility of the business with his brother, Fouad Showaiter, after their father’s passing in 1989, Mohammed Hussain Showaiter says their sweets are not just for Bahrainis, but for everyone in the GCC and for many, it is a must to bring back home the ‘halwa Showaiter’ after a trip to Bahrain. He says that they have more customers from the GCC, especially Kuwait than from Bahrain.
Taking around 1½ to 2 hours to prepare, the confectioner starts preparing the sweet from 5am to have ready and packed in special aluminium and tin containers. Offering a variety of desserts, biscuits and traditional sweets, that are commonly served with traditional Arabic coffee. The confectionery shop is also home to the sweet samboosa stuffed with a pistachio and nut mixture. Opening their first and main branch circa 1960s in the Muharraq souq, Hussain Mohammed Showaiter Sweets is also successfully operating in other locations around Bahrain: Al Aali Complex, Hamad Town, Seef Mall Muharraq, Manama and Exhibition road. One thing Mohammed Hussain Showaiter would like to highlight is for people to make sure that they visit the official Hussain Mohammed Showaiter Sweets stores to ensure they get quality products, as there are a lot of sweet stores incorrectly using the family name.
The sweet house has partaken in various regional exhibitions including Kuwait’s famous Hala Febrayer festival, and has garnered numerous accolades along the way. Hussain Mohammed Showaiter Sweets is more than just a sweet shop in the Kingdom, it is a gateway into the rich cultural cuisine of Bahrain, which though has evolved over time, at the core has remained the same and been passed down through the generations.
For more information on Hussain Mohammed Showaiter Sweets:
(00973) 1734 5550
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