It’s the holiday season and the festive mood is catching up with all of us. Halloween was just our appetizer. Although there is a whole year to go before you can don such costumes again, there is no need to be sad that the holiday is over. With Thanksgiving already knocking on your door and Christmas on its way, there is a lot to look forward to and plan for. This is the time to give yourself a well-deserved break, spend time with family and friends, treat yourself with shopping for household decorations and, above all, to try exotic foods and the sweetest of sweets. So let me try to stir your sweet tooth and add a little variety to your dessert platter for this season with confectioneries from the East — India!
Indian cuisine is known for its spices and aromas. What isn’t talked about enough is its sugary side. Sweets are a cultural symbol of good luck and celebration in India, though these are only some of the many reasons that Indians find to eat sweets on a daily basis. “Here’s some good news and here’s a packet of sweets to celebrate” — I cannot begin to emphasize how common such a phrase is in India. The productive side of this great inclination towards unrestricted sugar intake is the variety of goodies that it has led to. The catalog of Indian sweets is so huge that you can pick up any single regional Indian cuisine and still write a whole book about its sugary quotient, so what I am trying to do in this article is merely poking the surface. The preparations that are featured here are my personal favorites. Once you try them, who knows? They may wriggle into your list of favorites too. Here they are:
This is undoubtedly India’s favorite festive treat. Many say that the thing about Ladoo is that once you start tasting it, you can’t eat just one. They are primarily made of flour, clarified butter and sugar. The chickpea flour globules are fried in ghee or oil and are then soaked in sugar syrup. The sweet, pearl-like balls are then molded into Ladoos. The word “motichoor” literally translates to pearls. Honestly, there couldn’t have been a better name for the delicacy. The other half of the name, “Ladoo,” simply exudes cuteness. I’d say that if you really want to know what cuteness tastes like, try one of these.
Main ingredients: Chickpea Flour, Clarified Butter, Sugar
Serving temperature: Cold
Calories (per serving): 210
Kaju Barfi is one of the richest sweets of India, is perfect for all occasions and was brought to India in the 16th century. “Kaju” is a regional term for cashew, its main ingredient. The treat is made out of cashew nuts soaked in water overnight, which are ground the next day with sugar syrup to make a fine paste. The paste is then allowed to cool and solidify before being cut into diamond-shaped pieces and decorated with edible silver sheets (locally known as “Barfi”). This entire process requires expertise. The final product is a royal looking delicacy that is impossible to resist.
Main ingredients: Cashew, Sugar
Serving temperature: Cold
Calories (per serving): 90
It does not matter which part of India you go to— this milk, rice and sugar concoction will always be on the menu. Popular all over the world as “rice pudding,” kheer is perhaps the classiest desert on this list because of its sheer number of variations. It can fit any occasion and suit any taste bud. The simplest preparation of kheer involves rice slowly being boiled in milk with sugar. Instead of rice, you can use broken wheat, tapioca or vermicelli. Then you can go on to flavor the mixture with cardamom, raisins, saffron, cashews, pistachios, almonds or fruits. These variations are what make it a favorite among culinary enthusiasts the world over. You will love to eat it, but you may love to cook it even more. It is typically served during a meal or as a dessert in Indian homes on a regular basis. That is because kheer can be simple to cook and difficult to stay away from for too long.
Main ingredients: Rice, Milk, Sugar
Serving temperature: Hot/Cold
Calories (per serving): 130
If you are on the lookout for something new to treat your taste buds with, add these three foods to your list. You can try the preparations at home or simply grab some at an Indian store nearby. Go on, just take a bite and let your instincts guide you.