Mithais, or sweet treats, are an integral part of Indian cuisine. While they’re enjoyed during a hearty meal, sweets and desserts are also central to Indian festivals. Some of these, like laddu, originated in ancient India, but many of them were introduced to the country by the Mughal rulers who came from Persia. Here are some of the most delicious Indian desserts that you need to try on your visit to the country.
Laddu is the most popular festive treat in India. There are many different versions of this favourite sweet and the most popular is motichoor laddu. It is believed that the dessert was invented by an ancient Indian physician, Susutra, who used sesame laddus as an antiseptic to treat his surgical patients. Laddus are also the most common sweet offerings made to God.
The name falooda refers to a refreshing Indian dessert that consists of thin falooda noodles, which are usually produced from cornstarch, sago, wheat, or arrowroot, and ingredients such as tapioca pearls, jelly, rose syrup, milk, and soaked saba (sweet basil) seeds.
All the ingredients are typically layered in dessert glasses, and the whole dessert is occasionally topped with ice cream, dry fruits, or chopped nuts, and is alternatively eaten with a spoon and slowly sipped. Though it is eaten throughout India, the origins of falooda derive from ancient Persia, and a similar item is still found in Iran, where it goes under the name faloodeh.
There are a lot of different milk-based puddings in India and kheer is one of the most-loved among them. It is made by boiling rice with milk and sugar and later garnished with saffron, cardamom, dry fruits and nuts. Kheer, phirni and payasam are all different variants of Indian milk puddings. In South India, rice is replaced with vermicelli and the dish is called seviyan.
Khaja is a traditional Indian dessert consisting of flour, sugar, and ghee-based dough that is deep-fried in oil until golden and crispy. After the preparation, khaja is sometimes soaked in sugar syrup, depending on the regional variation of the recipe.
This tasty dessert is one of the key dishes at numerous North Indian wedding feasts. There are many regional varieties of khaja, so khajas from Silao and Rajgir are characterized by their puffiness, while khajas of the coastal part of Andhra Pradesh are dry on the exterior and filled with sugar syrup on the inside.
5. Gajar ka halwa
Gajar ka halwa is a dessert made from grated carrots, which are first simmered in milk and cardamom. The mixture is then fried in ghee (clarified butter) and sugar. Finally, the dish is garnished with dried fruits. The dessert started becoming popular during the Mughal period and today, it is served during both Hindu and Muslim festivals in India, including Diwali and Eid al-Fitr.
Modak is an Indian sweet dumpling believed to have originated in the state of Maharashtra. In India, modak is prepared in a variety of ways, and it is known under various names. Depending on the region, it is also referred to as mothagam or kozhukattai in Tamil, modhaka or kadubu in Kannada, or kudumu in Telugu.
The ingredients, preparation, and cooking methods also depend on regional differences. However, the most common variety is called ukadiche modak, the steamed variety made with rice flour and filled with a sweet concoction of grated coconut and jaggery.
Bengalis are known for their love of sweetmeats and sandesh is one of West Bengal’s most popular treats. Sandesh is traditionally made from chenna, a residue of curdled milk. Some believe that the dessert was inspired by the cheese-based dishes that early European traders brought along with them to the city of Kolkata.
Like sandesh, rasgulla is also made from chenna. These spherical dumplings are cooked in a sweet syrup until the juice infiltrates the dough. This sweet is so popular that two Indian states, West Bengal and Odisha have been feuding over it for years, with each claiming the rasgulla originated in their respective region.
9. Kaju barfi
Kaju barfi is a cashew-based Indian dessert similar to fudge. It is traditionally shaped like a diamond and is one of the more expensive sweets found in the country. It is therefore considered a valued gift during festivals and special occasions.
Even though its name originates from Persia, barfi is an original Indian dessert which resembles a fudge. It belongs to a wider group of Indian sweets united under the name mithai. In Persian and Urdu, the name burfi denotessnow and ice, referring to the visual characteristics of this dessert in its simple, original form.
It is made with a base of condensed milk solids (khoa or khoya), granulated sugar, and ghee, and the most common ingredients added to the base include nuts, usually pistachios, cashews, and peanuts. However, fruits, saffron, rose water, gram flour, or almonds are also found in some regional varieties.