Spoonful: A foodie’s guide to the best Indian desserts

Indian desserts, collectively known as mithai, are based on the word ‘mitha’, which means sweet. Like most confectionaries, Indian treats boast of their sugary taste that perks everyone’s taste buds. However, what makes them different from the rest is their use of various spices that stays true to the beauty of Indian cuisine and is rooted in various strong flavours. Additionally, they also boast of savoury specialities using many tropical fruits abundant in the nation like mangoes and lemons.

Apart from their impeccable taste, Indian treats come in many textures, styles and colours. These range from traditional to more modern options. The list is endless and there’s a Spoonful of options for you to choose from. Find out all about them by reading through this article now.

Modak

Originating in Maharashtra, modak is a popular sweet dumpling treat that can be prepared in different ways depending on the region. It also goes by names such as the mothagam in Tamil, modhaka in Kannada and kudumu in Telugu. Apart from that, its preparation differs in every area depending on its specific rules in its ingredients and cooking method.

The most common variation is the ukadiche modak which is steamed and made from rice flour. It is then filled with a sweet mixture of grated coconut and jaggery. The other ingredients put in the concoction are cardamom, nutmeg and ghee.

Barfi

Although its name comes from Persia, the entire recipe of barfi is made in India. It’s a fudge-like dessert that has a simple yet original form. To make this, the base consists of condensed milk solids, granulated sugar and ghee. This also includes different kinds of nuts like pistachios, cashews and peanuts. In some regions, they add different kinds of elements like fruits, saffron, rose water, and gram flour among others.

Laddoo

Dubbed as a festive ball-shaped dessert, the laddoo is a popular treat that’s been distributed to hundreds of devotees at the Tirupati temple in Andhra Pradesh for over 300 years. This is so famous that around 300,000 pieces of it are sold every day according to local reports. But what makes this treat so special? It’s made with various ingredients including chickpea flour, ground coconut, semolina, milk, sugar and ghee. As for its taste, it’s noted to have a nutty flavour but comes in many varieties, depending on the region.

Ras Malai

If you love dairy, try the ras malai which is said to be similar to the rasgulla which is another popular dairy-based dessert. However, its difference is that the ras malai has the balls removed from the sugar syrup after it’s cooked, flattened and placed in creamy sweet milk once it cooled down. Relish on this treat with nuts and spices on top for a more scrumptious experience.

Soan Papdi

The soan papdi is a dessert that originated in North India that has a flaky and light appearance. Once you take a bite of it, it will instantly melt in your mouth as if you were eating a piece of cotton candy. Most of the time, it’s enjoyed during the Diwali festival which is one of the biggest celebrations in India.

The main ingredients used include gram and refined flour, sugar syrup, ghee and milk. You can also opt to add cardamom and nuts if you want. Although it’s difficult to prepare for a beginner, this treat can be bought in various stores like Spoonful where a professional prepares it to perfection. The best soan papdi is said to have a fluffy texture with a light brown colour.

Kheer

Among various milk-based puddings in India, Kheer is at the top of the list because of its mellow and subtle flavour that you can never get enough of. It’s made by boiling rice with milk and sugar then enhanced with various ingredients like saffron, cardamom, dry fruits and nuts. Moreover, it is similar to other Indian milk puddings such as the phirni and payasam. On the flip side, the rice ingredient in the kheer is replaced with vermicelli in South India as the dish is now referred to as ‘seviyan’.

Sandesh

Most Bengalis are described to be lovers of sweets and Sandesh is one of the most popular treats for many locals, particularly in West Bengal. Traditionally, it’s made from a residue of curdled milk called chenna. However, many claim that it’s inspired by various cheese-based dishes that are widely known in Europe which were brought to the country by early European traders through the city of Kolkata.

Ghevar

Initially found in the state of Rajasthan, ghevar is a filigreed treat that’s commonly distributed during the Teej festival as per tradition. This said festival is a two-day celebration where many married women gather which is inspired by the story of Goddess Parvati, Lord Shiva’s consort, who was once in a state of conjugal bliss.

Malpua

Try something different and take a bite of the delicious Malpua dessert. It’s a pancake-like treat that’s usually found in Odisha, India. More often than not, the batter is made of flour and semolina but some regions tend to make their own combinations. Moreover, it commonly uses cardamom to enhance the overall flavour of the confection. To cook this, it is first deep-fried then dipped in a sweet syrup. Afterwards, it is garnished with sweet condensed milk called rabri.

Peda

Peda is distinguished as the most popular Indian peda which is mainly found in the holy city of Mathura in Uttar Pradesh. Since this is an indigenous treat, many people grab any opportunity to have a bite of the unique dessert. Similar to the laddu, this sweet is used as an offering to God. The two main ingredients used are milk and sugar. Afterwards, it’s served on a special platter in front of the altar in a temple.

Aam Papad

Aam Papad or better known as a mango crisp cake is a leathery-soft Indian confectionery that’s made from mango pulp mixed with sugar as its name suggests. This treat is mostly sweet but some regions added some changes to it to make the flavours more savoury. It’s available in different parts of India, even here in Bangalore through Spoonful’s online shop. Buying this treat is a great choice since it can be stored for a long time in your refrigerator and helps perk up your mood.

Kala Jamun

Similar to the gulab jamun, the kala jamun is a fried treat that has a unique black colour compared to the former which has a brownish-red shade. Since this is fried for a longer time, it has a darker tone which explains why it’s called ‘kala’ meaning black in Hindi. Like the gulab jamun, this dessert is made from khoya and mawa, looking like a sticky, soft and chewy ball of goodness.

Boondi

To all sweet tooths, the boondi is a perfect dessert to satisfy all your cravings. It consists of chickpea flour balls that are fried then garnished with a sugar syrup which results in an irresistibly saccharine treat. Its main ingredients include gram flour and sugar. Since this is a regional speciality, particularly in West Bengal, it has many variations in different areas like Odisha, Karnataka and Rajasthan.

Balu shahi

Take a bite of a mouthwatering dessert called the balu shahi which is created by mixing maida flour, clarified butter and sugar. Although its ingredients are similar to how glazed doughnuts are made, this has a distinct taste and texture with a more crunchy appearance. You can usually find this treat in various states like Bhira, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. 

Kalakand

Described as an Indian milk cake, the Kalakand is a great addition to your snack time. It’s a delicious dessert that’s made from solidified and sweetened milk called the Khoya. Some of its main elements are milk, Indian cottage cheese and sugar. Some of its popular varieties are Ajmeri kalakand and Alwari kalakand. Apart from being famous in India, this confection is also widely consumed in Bangladesh.

Nankhatai

Found in the northern part of India, Nankhatai is a shortbread biscuit that has been known since the 16th century. Its main ingredients are rice flour, butter, wheat flour, salt, honey and powdered sugar among others. The origins of this recipe were by a Dutch couple who started a bakery in Surat. Once they left the country, they handed it over to an Iranian who then experimented with dried bread resulting in the modern nankhatai.

Pithe

In the eastern parts of India, the Pithe is a great dish that can be a snack, dessert or a full meal. Its main ingredient is wheat flour or rice flour with numerous variations in different states of the country. Moreover, it can be designed to look like a pancake, dumpling or pastry, depending on the chef. Explore a Spoonful of Indian desserts by checking our website now.

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