Last Updated on January 4, 2019 by Maite Aja
Indian food makes up some of the most popular dishes worldwide. The appeal of their cuisine is not unfounded, chicken tikka masala has even become a national favorite in Great Britain, as you can read on “7 Traditional Indian Foods you Must Try“. Much like the savory dishes of India, Indian desserts have also made a global impression.
Several favorite Indian desserts have made their way into restaurants and bakeries globally, to the delight of anyone with a sweet tooth. To find out which Indian desserts are a must-try, read on.
This creamy frozen treat is closely related to ice cream, but much thicker. Instead of undergoing a whipping process like ice cream typically does, kulfi is prepared by evaporating heavy cream, evaporated milk, and condensed milk into a thick mixture and freezing it.
Classic flavors for kulfi include rose, cardamom, and pistachio, but modern interpretations also consist of fruits like apple and orange. Vendors often sell the dessert on a stick like a Popsicle, topped with ground pistachio or cardamom.
Seviya kheer is a simple and well-liked dish in India. Like rice pudding, this dessert is milk based with a velvety texture. Lightly toasted vermicelli noodles are boiled with milk to create a thick consistency. The thickness of the dish varies depending on how long the milk is boiled and personal preference.
Spices such as cardamom and saffron are added along with dried fruit and almond slivers to add another textural element to the seviya kheer. It can be served hot or cold, which makes it a refreshing sweet snack for any time of year.
Gulab Jamun are balls of dough that are lightly fried and sweetened. The dough is unique from what would be considered a typical donut-like pastry because of the addition of powdered milk into the base. The dough is rolled into small balls and dropped into a simmering pot of frying oil. After cooking all the way through, the gulab jamun are tossed in syrup.
The word “gulab” translates to mean flower water. The name is a reference to the syrup the treats are covered in, which is flavored with rose water. This dessert is commonly served for special occasions like birthdays, festivals, and weddings.
Jalebis are a popular street food in India and other surrounding countries. They are created with a batter made from maida flour. Similarly to funnel cake, the batter is poured into a circular shape in a pot of boiling fortified butter.
Once the jalebi is golden brown, it is soaked in a lime and saffron syrup and cooled. The syrup creates a crispy outer coating for the chewy swirls of fried batter. Each jalebi is small and can be eaten in just a few bites.
Ras Malai is a Bengali dessert with a solid and liquid component combined to make a tasty dish. Balls of paneer are cooked in boiling sweet syrup until they are soft enough to melt in your mouth. The paneer is served in a milk mixture of whole milk, saffron, and cardamom that is boiled to thicken it.
The whole dessert is served chilled with several of the paneer balls soaking in the milky syrup. The consistency is creamy and smooth like a slice of cheesecake.
Sandesh are small cakes of strained curdled milk called paneer and sugar. Fresh paneer is mixed with powdered sugar while it is still moist to create a sweet cheesy type dessert.
The confection is shaped into balls and pressed with dry fruits, nuts, and other garnishes to enhance the flavor. The dish is popular in Bengal and has many variations in which the paneer is stuffed with a filling or shaped differently.
Famously known as being the favorite snack of the Hindu god Ganesha, modak is a dessert dumpling. These dumplings can be prepared in many different ways, but most commonly are steamed or fried and filled with jaggery and fresh coconut shavings. Other fillings include chocolate, dried fruit, paneer, and banana.
TAKEAWAY: Temples for Ganesha in India often sell modak for visitors to give as an offering to the deity. The dumplings are also prepared every year as a part of Ganesh Chaturthi, a Hindu festival made to honor him.
Pazham pori are delicious plantain fritters that are often served alongside evening tea or coffee. The ripe plantains are cut lengthwise and battered with a flour and sugar mixture. They are deep fried and served warm and golden brown.
The fritters are crispy and crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. This type of snack is popular in Kerala, India, where the tropical climate yields many plantain plants.
Traditionally served as a part of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, this treat is a nut-based dessert. Cashew nuts that have been pulverized into a powder are combined with sugar and water and boiled down until a paste is formed. The paste is kneaded until it hardens enough to form a dough.
The dough is rolled out into a slightly thick sheet and cut into diamond shape. Each piece is stored and left to dry into a nutty and rich dessert similar in appearance to a shortbread cookie.
Barfi is another popular festival treat made with just two ingredients. For the most basic version of this dessert, condensed milk and sugar are cooked into a solid form and cut into squares.
Adding nuts or fruits, as well as other familiar flavors like cardamom and rose water can make different types of barfis. For more formal events, a silver leaf is added to the top of the confection for a more elegant look.
India has several different desserts that are prepared and eaten during holidays and celebrations. The snacks are often creamy, milky, and seasoned with spices local to the country. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of trying one of these great desserts, you’ll be in for a treat.
With simple ingredients, most of these desserts can even be recreated in your own kitchen. For a taste so sweet it will make you want to celebrate, be sure to try these yummy Indian desserts.