Indian food is probably one of the most surprising food cultures in the world. Nowadays we all have tried some typical dishes from India like Chicken Tikka Masala or even the famous Naan bread. But when we are talking about Indian sweets things are a lot different. There are not easy to find and are totally different from what we are accustomed to.
Indian sweets are so different than traditional Western desserts that sometimes is hard to know what’s on your plate and how to eat it. It is easy to be overwhelmed with the intense flavors and incredible sweetness of Indian desserts. But there is an addictive quality in these sweets that we can’t explain. Just one bite and those fragrant and exotic desserts suddenly become something you crave. Especially during festive occasions like Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights that takes place during the new moon between October and November.
Another great difference between Indian and western desserts is the way they are cooked. In opposite to western desserts, Indian ones aren’t baked. Normally they are cooked on the stove top or over an open fire. Ingredients are also a big difference between both cultures. Milk powder, chickpea flour, rose water, cardamom and saffron are some of the most used ingredients in Indian sweets.
Due to these amazing differences between cultures, we decide to make a list of the most delicious Indian sweets. But if sweets are not enough for you, we suggest taking a look at Season Cookbook or visit The Cooking World Shop and look for some inspiration.
Often called Indian donuts, gulab jamun is a popular classic Indian sweet. These Milk powder balls are fried in oil until they are golden brown and served with vanilla ice cream. This is a must during festivals of India, especially in the north. In the past, gulab jamun was made with khoya, but now you find that people skip the khoya and make gulab jamun with milk powder. These sweet little treats are intensely sweet, just one small dumpling will be enough to satisfy your craving.
Sweet, sticky and irresistible, jalebi is deep-fried, spiral, funnel-cake made from either wheat or lentil flour. Once fried, they’re soaked in sugar syrup that’s usually flavored with cardamom and saffron. They’re crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, and ooze sticky syrup with every bite. The batter is commonly made of chickpea flour and the yellow color is derived from saffron or – sometimes – artificial colorings.
Kheer is one of the most basic Indian desserts recipes and is made in most homes in almost all regions of India. A creamy Indian rice pudding laced with cardamom and often prepared with sliced blanched almonds and raisins. It is commonly enhanced with saffron for very festive occasions such as Diwali or weddings.
Ladoo is another very popular sweet in Indian. In a sphere-shaped, ladoos are made of flour, ghee/butter/oil, and sugar, with other ingredients that vary by recipe, like chopped nuts or dried raisins. They are often served at festive or religious occasions.
This intense aromatic sweet is a cottage cheese dumpling that is infused with a cardamom milk syrup. Rasmalai hails from West Bengal but is enjoyed throughout much of India. This dessert is best enjoyed when it is chilled.
Barfi is a fudge-like Indian sweet made with condensed milk and sugar, normally in a square or diamond shape. Very popular in Northern India and distributed on special occasions like weddings or Diwali. While they’re most often white, they also come in a broad range of flavors, like pistachio, almond, chocolate, mango, or pineapple-orange.
Kesar Peda is another famous sweet from the Indian subcontinent, originating from Mathura, usually prepared in thick, semi-soft pieces. The main ingredients are khoa, sugar and traditional flavorings, including cardamom seeds, pistachio nuts, and saffron. The color varies from a creamy white to a caramel color.
The boondi ke ladoo is very similar to the original ladoo (mention above) with one exception: they are deep-fried. Small drops of a batter are dropped into hot oil then soaked in a simple syrup and formed into balls. Boondi ke ladoo is made from bengal gram flour and it is often served on festivals such as Raksha Bandhan and Diwali.
Agra ka petha is a translucent soft candy from Agra. Usually rectangular or cylindrical, it is made from the ash gourd vegetable (also known as winter melon or white pumpkin).
Kulfi is the Indian ice cream, made from whole fat milk, powdered sugar, and cardamom powder. Normally is made with different flavors like strawberry, mango, and kesar and embellished with raisins and almond. A sweet that is dense and creamy, that comes with popsicle sticks or in terracotta pots. It is very easy to make and is usually made in homes during events and festivals.