In India, a dessert is considered one of the indispensable things on any occasion, from birth to death and even religious feasts and festivals. If you have a sweet tooth, this country is the place to satisfy your cravings and enjoy the most delectable Indian dessert styles.
PUA AND MALPUA
Known as a popular Indian dessert during the Holi festival in the states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, pua is basically deep-fried sweet pancakes that are soft on the inside, crispy on the outside and made with maida (refined white flour). There is a variety of recipes such as dry, ras pua, malpua or chhena pua. Malpua is an indulgent Indian dessert with lots of dry fruits and eggs in the batter. Malpua is also a popular street food in the eastern state of Odisha.
Halwa, commonly called halva, is a sweetened flour, ghee and jaggery dessert that is very popular all over India. Halwa can feature fig, almonds, cashew, gourd, chickpea flour, dried fruits and more. This classic Indian dessert is also a divine offering in temples and places of worship for Sikhs. During the Navratri festival, Sooji ka halwa (made with semolina) is a common offering. Additionally, halwa is even served as a special treat for hard-working government workers during the halwa ceremony.
These sweet balls made of flour, fat and sugar are a must-try when you are visiting India. It can be made of a stunning variety of ingredients, which can change depending on the season or event. Like many of the other traditional Indian desserts, laddus are also common offerings in temples such as besan (ghee and cardamom), motichoor (smaller laddu) and nariyal laddu (coconut). The name of this traditional Indian dessert is related to the joy of all kinds: To any good news, people will say “laddu baato”.
Kulfi is India’s version of rich and creamy ice cream that is made by heating milk over a low flame until it thickens and then is left to cool. Traditionally, this reduced milk is typically mixed with almonds, pistachios, sugar and cardamom or saffron for flavouring. It is then poured in moulds and placed inside an earthen pot filled with the ice and salt mixture. It can be served dipped in sweetened milk or cut in circular discs. The available flavours include mango, chocolate, custard apple and many others.
Created during the 17th and 18th centuries, bebinca, also known as bibik, is one of the most popular Goan-Portuguese desserts in India. It is a multi-layer cake that is made with lots of ghee, flour, eggs, sugar and coconut milk. The ingredients are simple, but it takes huge patience to make. A minimum of seven layers is baked one at a time before adding the next layer. This gooey Indian dessert is widely eaten during Christmas, Easter festivals and on any celebratory occasion.
Another dessert for cheese lovers, rasgulla. Known as a much-loved dessert in eastern India, rasgulla is a round ball of cottage cheese and semolina that is dunked in a light sugar syrup. Bengal’s rasgulla is soft, spongy and chewy while the Odisha one is soft and not chewy. Rasgulla made of palm jaggery and cottage cheese is a winter speciality of Bengal.
Phirni, a popular north Indian dessert, is a type of traditional rice milk puddings in India. It is made with ground rice, simmered in whole milk and flavoured with cardamom, rose water and saffron, giving it a smoother texture and delicate fragrance. This classic Indian sweet melts in your mouth when served chilled. Phirni was once a regal dish relished by the Mughals and its similar milk-based dishes are popular in Central Asia.
Pithas are steamed rice flour dumplings filled with a sweet stuffing, for instance, jaggery, coconut, sesame, poppy seeds and dried whole milk. In the northeastern state of Assam during the harvest festival Bhogali Bihu, pitha is a pancake of sticky rice stuff with sesame and jaggery. During the popular Ganesh Chaturthi festival in the western state of Maharashtra, steamed pitha known as modak is stuffed with jaggery and freshly grated coconut and offered to Lord Ganesha.