The Festival of Lights or Deepavali is just around the corner! There’s simply so much to cherish during this celebration, from adobes adorned with lamps and lightings to traditional costumes, and not forgetting the gorgeous spread of Indian sweets.
Yet to many, choosing is a huge hiccup. And you wouldn’t want to ask endless samples from shops or pick a less favourite one in your friend’s open house.
Drop the worry, this list will turn you into an Indian sweets guru. Time to look beyond murukku, dear friends!
Sugar junkies fall head over heels in love with these spongy dumplings. Milk solids are formed into a dough, deep-fried then soaked in sugar syrup flavoured with rose water and cardamom. On the outside, it holds a nice bite, while on the inside, it is soft, juicy and melts in your mouth. Intensely sweet but incredibly addictive!
Despite looking like a close cousin of the murukku, these bright-coloured swirls are actually a winner in the sweets department. It’s available in numerous Indian restaurants all year long, highlighting the demand for it. The batter is commonly made from chickpea flour and saffron gives it that regal colour. Once out from a cauldron of hot oil, its dipped into warm sugar syrup to give it that glistening appeal. Chewy, sweet, sticky and soft; there are no slouches in the texture department as well.
Ladoo & Boondi Ladoo
These little balls come in no shortage of colours and flavours. Similar to most Indian sweets, it's made with either chickpea flour, wheat semolina or ground coconut and infused with lots of ghee. The latter is similarly shaped but combines small drops of sugar syrup coated fried batter. Therefore, it melts in your mouth as tiny droplets. At times, assorted nuts and raisins are added to balance out the sweetness.
Taking the shape of a mini soap or a diamond, barfi is another heart stealer during the Deepavali season. The dense, melt-in-your-mouth base of solidified condensed milk and sugar is simple yet satisfying. However, the real deal is imparting ingredients and toppings such as coconut, almonds, dried fruits and pistachios. Adhering to the demands, cranberry and chocolate versions are on offer too.
This humble-looking sweet may not score high in aesthetic value, but it definitely packs a punch. To make this, simple ingredients - namely condensed milk, clarified butter, saffron, cardamom powder and dehydrated milk - are cooked over even heat and constantly stirred. The semi-soft sweet is finished with chopped cashews and pistachios for colour and crunch.
Say hello to the Indian version of the gelato! What sets kulfi apart from your regular ice cream is its creamier and denser form since it's not churned. The plain milk flavour is a norm but you’ll also find ones laced with rose, pistachios, cardamom and saffron, marrying the creamy goodness with an Indian flair. You couldn't ask for a better way to end a meal of rich spices.
A famous Indian snack made from sweet vegetables and carrot, therefore there’s no better excuse to devour to your heart's content. The concoction of grated carrots cooked in sugar syrup and concentrated milk is mixed with cardamoms for that extra zing. To add an element of crunch to the pudding-like texture, cashews are commonly thrown in. Don’t be surprised if you find these sweets in other mood-lifting colours, which are made from squash, sweet potato and beetroot.
Cashews are no longer a mere garnishing component as it takes centre stage in this bite-sized confectionery. The nuts are finely ground and infused into sugar syrup, then cooked over a low flame to perfection with dollops of ghee. Soft, smooth and creamy are words that perfectly describe these dainty delights, and it's normally covered with edible silver foil, something that would drive up your Instagram likes. You can also find them in rolled forms, filled with pistachios or dried fruits.
Ghee Balls / Nei Urundai
No Indian festival is complete without ghee balls. As the name implies, ghee is the name of the game! Hot ghee is poured into mung bean flour before moulded into its iconic shape. It melts with each delicate touch of the tongue and the aftertaste of aromatic ghee would tempt you to nosh down even more. At times, for a slight shift in texture, chopped cashews and raisins would do the trick.
Which translates to 'stone balls'. Yes, you read that right! Don’t be fooled by the soft outlook of this sweet, as it requires strong teeth to sink in or else you’ll be searching for a dentist’s open house. But why is it a famous sweet you ask? Simple, it’s delicious! Mung bean, parboiled rice, Bengal dhal and grated coconut are roasted till golden brown, then blended to the finest form. The strong texture and sweetness come from the grated jaggery. Psst, if you find this hard to digest, a long time ago, people would use a hammer to break it, which, by the way, was the size of an apple!
This South Indian dessert has always been a centrepiece at any India festivity. In fact, it originated from the kitchen of the Royal Mysore Palace, hence the name. Despite having a close resemblance to barfi, it actually opens up a whole new experience to your taste buds. The solid concoction of chickpea flour, ghee and sugar from a symphony of textures. Light and rich with slight crumbling notes, it's no surprise sweet tooths can’t get enough of it.
This Rajasthan-originated sweet somewhat straddles the line between a cake and a sweet but of course, with a genuine punch of Indian flavours. The white-washed cubes are made from paneer (Indian cottage milk), condensed milk, cardamom and a small portion of milk, all cooked together over mild heat. Then, a generous amount of chopped nuts and pistachios are ladened over the surface. Soft, sweet, crumbly and crunchy, each mouthful definitely twirls up your taste buds!
A stark contrast to the pretty-looking sweets yet never fails to make wonders on your palate. This traditional sweet is usually prepared for every Indian celebration. It’s basically a mixture of ground rice flour and jaggery fried in hot oil, then left to rest. It reminds you of a sugary pancake, which is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. So good, many love to stock them up all the time. Pair it up with a hot cup of tea for extra 'oomph'.