Mamta's Kitchen

Forum Thread - Are edible silver leaves vegetarian?

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Khichri, on 30/8/2006 03:45pm

Hi all!

I realise this is an old thread now, but I just came across it on a google search - just to see if there was any new findings on the non-vegetarian ness of varakh which I last looked for about 2 and a half years ago. I guess the issue is still much the same. I'd researched on the web that at that time as the thought just poped into my head "how is varakh made" and I'd come across the same shocking discovery as everyone else who's posted here. I'm glad this discussion took place.

However, the one thought that just came to mind from skimming through this thread is that Milk is the holiest food for hindus.

Mamta, on 30/8/2006 03:56pm

Is it Khichri? You can debate it. God made milk for the babies (of all mammals). By drinking cow's milk, are we depriving the rightful owners? I have learnt that most things can be argued about from opposing sides, often equally forcefully.



Naveen, on 3/9/2006 05:54am

This is indeed grisly. Although I am a non vegetarian but I have full respect towards vegetarians and Hindu beliefs. I advocate the public spreading of this information to the general public so that people stop using varak for all purposes.

Chandru, Bangalo, on 14/11/2006 12:12pm

I would suggest you to restrain from usage of Varakh.

The main purpose is that the purity of Silver used for the same is questionable.

Most of them consists of Lead and tin, whose tracest presence is also dangerous to health.

Think about it, Just decoration or Health!

khirchri, on 14/11/2006 12:33pm

I've noticed recently that some sweets shops in the uk seem to not be using so much varak. Or you can find it with or without varak.

If my family are ever given sweets with varak on we find it impossible to eat them thesedays.

pinky, on 8/12/2006 10:25pm

Hi all..its really an interesting subject..Al these years,i never thought of wat exactly varakh was madeup of,until yesterday when I offered sweets to my American friend,who enquired about what the silver covering is of..i searched on net 2day...n wz shocking to even digest tht it is non-veg..

But if it is such a big issue,then why is its production and use not controlled or banned??i guess still not many ppl r aware of it..

AskCy, on 9/12/2006 11:28am

It looks like as you suggest that its never been questioned as people don't know !

Dass, on 12/12/2006 05:27am

Yuck! I am never eating silver coated sweets ever again! Puke

Mamta, on 13/12/2006 06:24am

I just read the point made by Chandru from Banglore, dated 14th November, "Most of them consists of Lead and tin, whose tracest presence is also dangerous to health."

He is right of course, there are frequent scares in India about cheaper end of the sweet shops using silver varak that is not quite what it is supposed to be. Heavy metals like Chandru mentioned are involved. This is quite dangerous. Sweets can be decorated quite well with chopped nuts in my view.

Thanks for pointing it out Chandru.


ramachandran, on 1/1/2007 12:19pm

Can anyone tell me the contact address,e-mail and phone of Ms menaka Gandhi??

Am desperately trying to contact her!!!

Thanks a lot!!

Happy New Year

Mamta, on 1/1/2007 12:23pm

Why do you think we will have a contact address for Mrs. Menka Gandhi? We are not from Gandhi family you know :-)!


Ashish, on 6/1/2007 08:39am

I think all the previous queriers regarding the vegeterianism of varakh should be answered by the following information.

There is a new manufacturer of Silver Varakh out in the market now. The company goes by the name of KSK (Kanishka) GOLD & SILVER PRODUCTS. They are, from my understanding, the ONLY company in the world that manufacter varakh using purely JAIN and Vegeterian methods.

Also, they are the only company to receive an letter of reccomendation from BWC (Beauty without Cruelty), the non-profit agency that is promoted by Mehanka Gandhi.


Aayush, on 2/3/2007 08:29pm

Yes, its true. The website is It is also available in the US, that number is 212-741-8888.

Ravi, on 7/3/2007 12:53pm

We had a hindu friend was quite shocked also that much cheese is not suitable for vegetarians/hindus - in the UK many manufacturers have taken animal products out of things like deserts and there is a lot of vegetarian labelling (not always 100% correct alas) - many people eat animal products because they are not educated to the extent they are snuck in by manufacturers

AskCy, on 7/3/2007 01:13pm

Ravi I never realised how many thing's have/had animal products in them until this topic came up.

Who would suspect sweets we give our children have gelatin which comes from animal cartiledge. Its also used in other products like jelly and other puddings.

Cheese using animal rennet to make it "turn" from milk to cheese (paneer uses lemon juice for this purpose)

and as this topic has shown something used for special occasions and thought to be pure turns out to use animal products that no one even suspected !


Sharma, on 31/5/2007 10:35am

Being a pure vege we should never take sweets with silver foil

Irfan, on 20/6/2007 05:30pm

Guys, I never thought that any body would be that particular about such an antiquated item as chandi varakh! wow!

I belong to a family which was involved in manufacturing and distributing both silver and gold leaves in India (Delhi-through the entire last century). Growing up I have witnessed how they are manufactured and sold. Back in the days the mass consumption of this product was in the Unani and Auyurvedic systems of medicine. Because of the fact that gold and silver are quite malleable they are beaten to the extent of an ultra thin film which is called Varakh.

Earlier in twentieth century deer intestines and later goat intestines were used to place small stirps of gold and silver and beaten. Don't visualize intestines as intestines(bloody, gory, dirty) they are cleaned up and at the time of using it for the purpose of making varakh they are like a bright orange paper sheet clean, smooth and COMPLETELY dried.

You can witness the process yourself there is nothing to hide their. As far as whether or not you should eat them! you have to use your own discretion. Time and space doesn't allow me to go any further but that is pretty much it.

Hope it helps.

Mamta, on 20/6/2007 08:00pm

Hi Irfan

It was nice to have a definitive answer to this question. We would love to hear more about the production of chandi varak, all the details, please. As you live in India, you know that devout Hindus and other strict vegetarians will object to having any part of animal product come in contact with anything they eat. It is surprising that varak is used on all Indian sweets, even the ones in temples.

Kavey, on 20/6/2007 08:01pm


I don't think anyone is assuming that they are not in completely clean and prepared state but it's a personal choice for strick vegetarians to ensure that no animal products are used in their food or the preparation of their food and it's up to them to decide whether they feel the use of the hides is appropriate or not.

For that reason, it's of interest to people holding such beliefs, that such techniques are used when the impression they had was that no animal products were involved. Then they can make the choice.

Whilst you or I may not have the same beliefs, I do think everyone is entitled to full disclosure on manufacture methods so that they can make their own choices.


Irfan, on 21/6/2007 05:29pm

To Kavita,

I stand corrected, I may have been a little callous in the matter, not fully realizing the impact and scope of this subject. I have nothing but respect for your beliefs in this matter. I imagine it would be treated at par with the Muslim revulsion about pork products and by products.

I have been away from this whole scene ever since I left Pakistan some twenty years ago. If with the advent in technology it has been manufactured in a different way i.e. without the aid of animal by product I am not aware of it.

To Mumta,

Thank you for certifying me as the resident expert here, however I must tell you that I am not worthy of this mantle as all my life I have been an observer of the process rather then a participant. The life cycle of this product goes back over centuries. I asked my grand father how did he come into this business and he said because his father and the father of his father were doing the same thing. I don't know if there are any records kept but I recall reading somewhere that fascination with precious metals lead to its edibility, probably lead to its current form. That it hasn't change forms over years is quite certain and was seen as worthy to be put on different dishes on the king's table.

One last thing, this was a dying business because of the introduction of imitation Varakh. However those who were linked with this business selling pure gold and silver Varakh may have invented alternate uses of this product like any smart marketer would do. It is a good bet that it might be serving some other purpose, beside being slapped on a 'Halwa' dish and look pretty! That I am sure of.

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