Indian Desserts for Dummies

The continent is a hidden deep reservoir of heavenly patisseries where it has earned an international fan base and still luring unwitting folks into addiction.

To get your gears started, Mithai (defined as ‘sweets’ in Hindi or Urdu) are made with Khoya (milk and condensed milk boiled till curdled milk), sugar, and complementariness of legumes and variations of fruits and vegetables. Brought to crème de la crème soaked with rosewater or sugar syrup.

They are intertwined deeply into their local culture where Mithai are omnipresent in celebrations, exchanging gifts, and religious tributes.

Sweet, saccharine, and heavenly, these below are the beginnings to make your eyes roll while moaning in ecstasy!



An Indian masterpiece that every sweet tooth will drool to is the classic hit Barfi. It is inspired by the term barf (snow) for its fair outlook and they usually appear in squares or diamond shaped. Barfi is the product of Khoya and can be multifaceted when enriched with differing elements of Kaju Barfi (cashew), Pista Barfi (pistachio), Dodha Burfi (peanut) and other invigorating flavours like mango, chocolate or pineapple!

Glazed with Vark (edible metal coat), combined with the crumbly bite and the unexpected flavours will surely tempt your taste buds to the next level!



When Lord Krishna is an advocate to this timeless sweet treat, you know the hunt for the ideal sweet is over! Kheer or Payasam (means milk from ‘payasa’) is a rich rice pudding concocted from base ingredients of milk, vermicelli rice, Ghee, Semolina, and tapioca. You can even shake up some originality into the mix with pistachios, almonds, wheat and unlimited others. It’s no exaggeration that Kheer is deemed fit for the gods owing to its’ moisty and luscious taste!



Hailed (likely) from the Mughal Empire during the 16th century, this Indian ice-cream has come to defeat the heat while lingering sweetly in your mouth! What’s the main difference between western ice-cream and Kulfi you asked? Well, Kulfi has higher and thicker consistency than their western counterpart as it was not whipped and hence; it is creamier and richer in taste. Kulfi’s intensifying tang is from the evaporated and condensed milk blended with heavy cream and sugar.

This icy delight packs more punch with variations of Malai (cream), Kesar (saffron), Elaichi (cardamom), rose, mango and other that is only limited by your imagination!


Gulab Jamun

Gulab Jamun, Sunny Da Dhaba, Old Mumbai Pune Highway. The purana highway connecting Mumbai and Pune has some cracking dhabas, probably not the Murthal quality, but very good food nonetheless. Sunny Da Dhaba was highly recommended by friends, and post our rain stricken visit to the Karla caves, some hot, fresh food was really required. Still reeling from getting drenched in the downpour, the gulab Jamuns were ordered to provide to succour to the soul. And comfort us they did. Disintegrate in mouth texture, and a lovely hint of elaichi in the chashni. Didn't care too much about that cashew piece on top. While the clothes were still wet, the heart definitely started to warm up after polishing 2 plates of these. If only they had Jalebi, out treatment would have been been complete !

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Possibly the no.1 in the world of Indian noshes, it’s no humble statement that Indian dessert’s fine reputation rides highly on Gulab Jamun’s coattails. Balls of Khoya dough sprinkled with flour for consistency; then deep fried till golden brown and finally dip into sugary nectar with flavours of rose, cardamom or saffron. The doughy bite dipped in sweet syrup is a deadly combo for perfection.



The last to grace the list is none other than this hotshot! Sprang forth from Odisha or West Bengal, Rasgulla is easy to make and easy to love. Formed by whisked Chhena (Indian cottage cheese) and Semolina flour; which then boiled with sugar syrup with additional choices of rosewater or cardamom powder. Afterwards just let it cool and there it is! Milky, spongy and oozing with sweet ‘oomph!’ Rasgullas is an iconic treat that every sweet tooth deserves.

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