"I am starting to think that maybe memories are like this dessert. I eat it, and it becomes a part of me, whether I rememeber it later or not." -Erica Bauermeister
Many people have a sweet tooth and simply cannot resist reading the dessert menu at the restaurant. Dessert is the grand finale of a fantastic meal. Without it, a meal is not complete.
Every culture, country and city has a famous dessert. It is a serious sin to leave New York City without having tried an NYC style cheesecake, downright unthinkable to board your flight at Charles de Gaulle airport without having had a delightful creme brulé in a Parisien café and don't even get me started about leaving Venice without having indulged in at least two or three tiramisus!
The simple sweetness of a well-made dessert makes us say "Yum" or "Wow" and happy that we saved room in our tummies for this decadent delight.
After an awful day at the office, our only friend and true comforter may result in being a tub of ice cream or bag of cookies. It is true that after eating too many desserts we pack on the pounds, however, sweets bring us to another place and make us remember why we love food so much in the first place.
Therefore, since every country and culture has noteworthy desserts, India is bound to have some as well. Superprof is here to show readers that Indian cuisine is not just known for its curries and samosas but for its delightful desserts that will have you begging for more!
We will take a culinary tour and examine what typical desserts are famous in the North, South, East and West parts of India.
Typical Desserts from the North of India
The states and territories of Northern India border the countries of Pakistan, Nepal and Tibet. There are nine states and territories that make up this geographical region and four official languages are spoken among inhabitants such as Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi and English.
The cuisine from Northern India is what Westerners are most familiar with in UK based Indian restaurants. The smells of curry and exotic spices may make us want to book a trip to India in order to truly experience the cuisine and culture.
Without further ado, here are the best dessert recipes that Northern India has to offer:
- Gulab Jamun: this dessert is probably one of India's most recognizable and beloved. The sweet dumplings are made of thickened or reduced milk and are put in a rose flavoured sugar syrup. Many foreigners call these treats "Indian doughnuts" and find them difficult to resist. The rose water creates a beautiful aroma that is very different among other desserts you may know. This dessert is relatively easy to make in your own kitchen with household items and only takes about 50 minutes from start to finish. This dessert is the perfect finish for an Indian themed dinner party!
- Jalebi: an extremely popular Indian dessert treat that consists of maida and sugar syrup. This dessert is usually served in Northern India during special occasions and festivals. For the best jalebis, the batter needs to be well fermented. There is no perfect time of the day to enjoy these since they can be eaten with a hot drink for breakfast, after lunch and as an evening snack paired with samosas and a hot masala tea. The most delicious jalebis are previously soaked in saffron water to get that yellow colour and fried to perfection in order to be truly crispy.
- Ras Malai: Indian desserts are extremely decadent and creamy and this recipe is of no exception. This dessert is dumplings made of cottage or ricotta cheese that has been previously soaked in sweetened, thickened milk that has been flavoured with cardamom. YUM! This dessert is served chilled with dried fruit on top. It takes approximately 100 minutes to prepare this dish and that does not include the few hours it takes to chill in the fridge after the basic preparation is done.
- Kheer: this is an Indian take on rice pudding and is flavoured with cardamom and nuts to give it a delightful flavour. This dish is known as Kheer in the North, however, in other parts such as the South it is known as payasam and in the East, it is referred to as payesh. This recipe calls for condensed milk, basmati rice, almonds, raisins and saffron.
All of the aforementioned desserts are delicious and sure to impress any dinner guests. Indian food is very complex, varied and simply divine whether its dessert, a simple side or a full meal.
The Best Dessert Recipes from Eastern India
Eastern India consists of four main states and territories known as Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha. The largest city is Kolkata with an estimated urban population of 14.3 million inhabitants.
East India is known for the Bengali language, the Bay of Bengal, its unique culture, breathtaking landmarks and of course its food!
There are many culinary delights that are unique to Eastern India and the region of Bengal. Here are some of the most iconic desserts from the East of India:
- Khaja: these are essentially layered fritters that have been dipped in sugar syrup. This recipe does not call for very many ingredients and can be stored in a Tupperware container for up to 2 weeks. Usually enjoyed by natives of East India during special festivals and occasions. Nevertheless, it can be savoured with tea among friends after a big meal. Maida flour is a must to make this sweet dessert, as is cinnamon and cardamom powder.
- Cham-Cham: these delicious desserts are known as "pleasure boats" and can be used as a term of endearment to loved ones. Cham-chams are savoury, sweet and interesting to make. Firstly, the milk is heated until the curds separate from the milk. Secondly, the curds are hung in a cheesecloth for about an hour and next you knead the cheese until the mixture is smooth and forms into balls that are ready to be cooked. They are a bit complicated to make and time-consuming, but the end result is a delicious and unique taste.
- Mishti Doi: is a popular Bengali dessert that is known as sweet yoghurt. The mixture is typically placed into an earthen pot to keep it cool after cooking it. This dessert is made by boiling the milk until it is thickened, then adding palm jaggery for sweetness and allowing it to ferment or sit overnight in the fridge. When it is ready to be eaten it can be flavoured with a pinch of cardamom.
- Sandesh: no list about Eastern India desserts is complete without the addition of Sandesh, one of West Bengal's most popular desserts. Extremely easy to make if you have the correct ingredients such as paneer and cardamom powder. It only takes about 15 minutes to make this ethnic dessert and that includes cooking time. The almonds, pistachios and cardamom powder make this dessert unique to its area.
Making Eastern India desserts has never been so feasible with these aforementioned recipes. As a budding chef in an Indian food cooking course, it is extremely advisable to try new recipes that open your horizons and change your viewpoints about other cultures.
Best Dessert Recipes from the South of India
The South of India includes the union territories and states of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Lakshadweep, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and Telangana which occupies 19% of India's total area.
The total population of this area of India is estimated to be around 253 million inhabitants and residents speak one of the four Dravidian languages such as Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam. Indian cuisine is a bit different in this region due to the fact that fish is included in many dishes. Nevertheless, like in all Indian states and regions, rice is the staple diet.
Just like inhabitants in all parts of the world, the people of Southern India have a sweet tooth and enjoy delicious desserts. Here are some of the most acclaimed desserts in the South of India:
- Mysore Pak: a very famous dessert recipe from South India. It is made using gram flour, sugar and ghee. This is a very simple sweet delight that can be prepared under 30 minutes with ingredients that are already in your kitchen. This dessert can be tweaked to please your taste buds by adding dried fruits or nuts. This sweet dish is usually served at special occasions such as Diwali, Pongal or Onam.
- Kesari Bhath: a sweet orange pudding that makes a smooth and savoury dessert. This recipe requires rava (cream of wheat), sugar, dried fruits and ghee. Turmeric powder gives this dessert its vibrant orange colour.
- Maa Ladoo: a sweet recipe loved by children and adults all over India. This recipe calls for sugar, cashew nuts, cardamom, ghee and pottukadalai which is chutney dal an extremely high source of protein. This recipe only takes 25 minutes to make including prep and cook time. Can be stored in the fridge for 10 days after making. They are melt in your delicious!
All of the aforementioned recipes give your family a sweet taste of Southern India in under 30 minutes. Try these recipes on a typical Wednesday night in order to make things more interesting by experiencing the culinary delicacies of another country, even if it is adapted to our tastes.
The Most Famous Dessert Recipe from Western India
The West region of India includes the states of Goa, Gujarat, Maharastra and Rajasthan just to name a few. The largest city on the Western coast of India is the city of Mumbai (formerly Bombay) that sits on the coast of the Arabian sea with approximately 18.41 million inhabitants.
In the western parts of India, culture, language, religion and cuisine is varied.
Mahastriain cuisine can either be super bland or extremely spicy and dishes in Goa are dominated by ingredients such as coconut, seafood and cashew nuts. Nevertheless, one thing is certain like in all other parts of India, there are tasty desserts. Here are some of the best recipes:
- Modak: a sweet dumpling that is popular in the state of Maharastra and used during the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi. A combination of ingredients such as coconut and jaggery is used to stuff the little dumpling. This recipe is simple to make and can be tweaked according to your palate. The texture is extremely creamy and beloved by India people of all ages.
- Puran Poli: this sweet delight takes about 30 minutes to make and features the basic ingredients of chana dal, flour, cardamom and sugar. This dessert is usually cooked for festivals and special occasions but can also be cooked for school lunches and eaten for breakfast with a savoury Masala tea.
- Shrikhand: popular dessert recipe that is made with curd, cardamom powder and saffron. There are other variations of this classic recipe that feature seasonal fruits such as apricots and mangoes. This dessert takes only 15 minutes to make and is great to satisfy your sweet spot after a heavy meal. Top with pistachios and almonds to improve flavour and add a little crunch.
India is a food paradise, especially if you follow the more traditional recipes, with so many wonderful lunch, dinner and dessert recipes to try. The unique flavours and aromas of Indian cuisine make it many people's favourite. Due to the constant migration of Indians from all parts of India to the United Kingdom, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to India markets, restaurants and spice selection in supermarkets.
Learning how to make these classic Indian dessert recipes in the comfort of your own home is a fulfilling experience!
Now discover our complete how-to manual on preparing Indian food...