When it comes to sweets in India, there is more variety than you can even imagine! The people of our country have a really sweet tooth, and no meal is considered complete until there is a sweet dish to round it off. And thanks to the cultural and religious diversity of the country, you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to the myriad of desserts that you can try. Every culture has its own set of unique desserts, often many of them being made especially on festivals and religious occasions.
Read on to find more about some of the best sweets that our country has to offer.
Gulab Jamun is perhaps the one Indian sweet that the entire world has heard of. No festival or celebration is complete without some juice gulab jamuns. These soft balls are made of khoya, and are then deep fried. They are then soaked in a rich sugar syrup, which is often flavoured with cardamom. Unlike what the name suggests, the dish has nothing to do with roses. Nevertheless, it is the favourite Indian dessert of almost half the population.
These super sweet dessert comes from West Bengal, and is famous all over the country for its sweet taste and texture. Made of cottage cheese and semolina, these balls of feather are then cooked in a light sugar syrup. The dessert is super spongy and soft, and is completely immersed in the sugar syrup; and is best enjoyed cold.
This Marwari delight has now become a sensation all over the nation, and is a staple dessert on occasions and festivals. Boxes full of Kaju Katli are also exchanged on weddings and religious festivities. The main ingredient that goes in a Kaju Katli is cashew nuts, and they are recognizable by their characteristic diamond shape and edible silver leaf on the top.
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Ladoos are round sweet balls, which are best rolled by hands. Though there are different varieties of ladoo that are available in the Indian market, motichoor ladoos are the most famous. They are characterized by their bright orange colour. Other varieties of ladoos include besan ladoos, atta ladoos, sattu ladoos, etc. Ladoos are mostly in demand during the Ganpati puja.
From the city of Banaras, Rabri is a kind of a kheer. It is prepared with sweetened milk, which is boiled and reduced in a big stockpot. Lots of dry fruits are added to rabri for that ultimate rich experience, and saffron is also used for flavouring it.
Another sweet from Bengal, Sandesh is also made using cottage cheese, known as channa in the local language. With its increasing popularity, confectioners have come up with different varieties of Sandesh, including ice cream Sandesh and Mango Sandesh.
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The word Barfi comes from the Persian name ‘barf’, which literally translates to ‘snow’. Barfi is made up of sugar and milk, which are cooked together and the mixture is then reduced. Barfi comes in different shapes and sizes, and is extremely popular in northern India. Additional flavours are also often added to barfi to make it tastier. These include flavours like coconut and mango. Often, almonds and cashew nuts are also added to this sweet.
Mysore Pak, from the city of Mysore, is a yellowish-brown confectionery. The dessert is quite heavy to eat, since it is completely immersed in ghee. It is also often flavoured with spices such as cardamom, or other flavours like rose and honey.
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The word ‘ras’ means juice, and the world ‘malai’ means cream. Thus, the dessert is a rich combination of cream and cottage cheese, and is a juicy delight! It is extremely popular in places like Kanpur and Haridwar, though you will find it everywhere in northern India.
Malpua comes from Orissa, and is a popular sweet that you would also find on the streets. The dessert is also made to serve Lord Jagannath on religious occasions and festivals. Malpua is basically a kind of pancake which is made using evaporated milk and refined flour. This batter is then deep fried and then soaked in sugar syrup.
The traditional sweet that is served to all the gods, Pedas are especially famous in Vrindavan. They come in a small round shape, and are extremely sweet. This is because they are made up of khoya and sugar. Traditional flavours that are added include saffron and cardamom.
Modak is extremely popular across the state of Maharashtra, and is Lord Ganesha’s favourite sweet. This is precisely why it holds special importance for Marathi people. During Ganesh Chaturthi, this sweet is prepared and then offered to the Almighty. These days, chocolate modaks have also become increasingly famous.
Phirni is made up of broken wheat and boiled rice, and is a traditional dessert served during Eid and Ramzan. It is made by thickening the milk by cooking it, and then freezing it in earthen pots.
Ghewar comes from Rajasthan, and is a traditional sweet made on festivals and auspicious occasions. This circular shaped sweet is made up largely of flour, and is soaked in sugar syrup. The sweet is then topped with nuts, including pistachios and almonds.
One of the easiest dish to prepare, halwa is also one of the most popular sweets of India. There are different types of halwa that are prepared in different regions, though the common point in all is that the ingredients are boiled in milk or water. Whole wheat flour and semolina are often used to make halwa, thougj Gajar ka Halwa is also quite common. The latter is made especially during winters in almost every Indian household.
Gujiyas are deep-fried sweet popular across northern India. They are filled with a sweet filling of desiccated coconut with dry fruits, which is then enclosed in a dough. The semi-circular sweet is then deep fried, and finally dipped in sugar syrup. Gujiya is widely made and exchanged on the festival of Holi.
Which one of these is your favourite dessert?