Vark describes the thin leaf sheets of gold or silver used for decorating all kinds of sweets in India. Or in this case of the image above - paan, a well known Indian palate cleanser. ⁠Near Charminar in Hyderabad, you can find many shops, where people make these delicate metal foils. We found one just beside a munshi naan shop. 

The process

It is an extremely laborious, exhausting and strenuous affair. It takes a vark worker 3 hours to beat rhythmically a small square piece of silver with a wooden hammer into a thin, edible sheet. They never pound the metal directly. They always use a material in between. Previously they used ox intestines. Today they rather tend to use "german paper" instead, which is a parchment paper or polyester sheets coated with food grade calcium powder.⁠


Nowadays one must be careful and make sure the sheets purchased have been made from 100% gold or silver rather than other metals. Consumption of those may be very dangerous, so it is better to know your vark supplier and not cut on quality.