Bombay muttai

The popular local Candy floss known as Bombay Muttai ‘Bombay Sweet’ was introduced by Indian Muslims known as Moplas. This is supported by Fonseka’s 1930s reference to Bombay Muttai “That gossamer-like creation looking like the venerable beard of a holy patriarch” being in the hands of the Coast or Indian Moors who resorted here for trade. Tudor Jones (These people make Ceylon. Times of Ceylon Christmas Number 1935) is more specific, telling us that the Moplahs (a type of Indian Moor) go about the streets carrying round tin boxes on their heads. “In the boxes they carry Bombay muttai for the Moplahs have a monopoly in this”.

Another item which seems to have its origins in the Moplahs or at any rate the Coast Moors is what is popularly known locally as Muscat, an oily sweetmeat made of clarified butter, wheat flour, sugar and cashewnuts and coloured red, green or yellow. Fonseka mentions in his 1930s account of the fare of the different peoples of his day the muscat of the Coast Moors, who being a mercantile community traded in this commodity and possibly produced it. The item takes its name from the capital of Oman Muscat where this sweet seems to have been produced in large quantities. Andrew Crichton (History of Arabia.1833) refers to the people of Muscat preparing “an esteemed sweetmeat, named hulwah, from honey or sugar, with the gluten of wheat, and ghee, and a few almonds”.

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