Shimmering with gold or silver tops are seen various desserts at mithai~sweet shops in India. The stunning embellishments are actually butterfly-wings like delicate edible silver, called as Chaandi ka Varq meaning Silver leaf; the gold leafs are called as Soney ka Varq. Varq-also pronounced as warq, vark, varkh, varaq, varak, is an Urdu word which means ‘leaf’. Chaandi ka Varq is most commonly used. These very fragile foils are lustrous, with no aroma or taste, but perfectly edible and are used as a garnish for sweets (mithai), supari (betel nut), paan (betel-leaf), and fruits in India.
Chaandi ka Varq~
it is usually sold stacked in between local telephone directory pages
Making these delicate adornments involves a backbreaking job. Prepared with great caution in workshops in India, usually in Ahmadabad, Lucknow, Delhi and Hyderabad, minute nuggets of silver or gold are placed between tissue paper and placed in leather pouch and beaten repeatedly with a heavy hammer until it becomes a dainty leaf fit to adorn the tops of Indian desserts or biryani, kawabs etc. They are available very easily in India at most stores and at most leading Indian stores outside of India.
Sooji ka Halwa~Semolina Dessert, adorned with Chaandi ka Varq~Silver leaf
To use as a garnish, hold the paper with the silver leaf and carefully invert and dab onto the surface of food while it is still warm so that the the silver sticks to the food as you peel away the paper.