Indian cuisine might be well-known for its curries and spice, but ask any Indian person and they will be quick to let you know that this is a culinary tradition that can more than hold its own in the world of sweets. Delicious desserts are a key element of Indian celebrations, from birthdays and weddings to the riotous festivals that form a key part of the sub-continent’s culture. Intrigued? Let us introduce you to our top 10 favourites:
Laddoos are made up of coconut, sugar and dried fruit with a slathering of ghee to enable the mixture to be shaped into a round ball. These irresistible sweets should come with a warning – it’s impossible to just eat one. Laddoos are particularly popular at Diwali, the Hindu festival of light, as well as at any celebration in honour of the elephant-headed god Ganesha. In fact, Ganesha is often depicted with a bowl of laddoos at his side – the god had a predilection for the sweeter things in life.
Who doesn’t enjoy a scoop or two of ice-cream in the heat of summer? Kulfi is the Indian version of this creamy treat. Dense and thick, it can be cut into slices or served on a stick in a rainbow of fascinating flavours from mango and pistachio to rose and saffron.
3. Sandesh mishti
In the eastern state of West Bengal, sandesh mithai is a staple of any festival or celebration. This sweet is made from sweetened paneer, sugar and cardamom powder. It is very simple to make and just needs to be combined, kneaded, shaped and stored in the fridge for a few hours before it is ready to eat.
Yoghurt fans will enjoy a dish of smooth and silky shirkhand. It is a strained, thickened dairy dish, flavoured with nuts, spice and sometimes dried fruit for added texture. Shirkhand is one of the most popular desserts in Gujarat and Maharashtra.
5. Mishti doi
Mishti doi is another demonstration of the love Bengalis have for their sweet treats. An unusual dessert, it is created by fermenting sweet yoghurt and then adding jaggery or sugar to taste.
This sweet boasts an adorable name to suit a sweet that’s beloved by children due to the different colours it comes in – pink, yellow and white.
A luxurious rice pudding, kheer holds great spiritual significance all over the sub-continent and is often presented to the gods and prepared at times of celebration as well as being enjoyed as an everyday dish.
8. Gulab jamun
A sweet created from milk solids, these little sweets are shaped and then deep-fried until a crisp, golden-brown shell has formed around the soft interior. Sinful yet irresistible.
9. Ras malai
Soft paneer dumplings immersed in chilled, sweetened milk create a dessert reminiscent of a tasty cheesecake topping.
Similar to ras malai, rasgulla also consists of soft balls of paneer. But instead of immersing them in milk, they are simply soaked in a sweet, sugar syrup.
Feel in the mood for an Indian sweet? Book a table at one of London’s best Indian fine dining restaurants and make sure you leave room for dessert.