Indian cooking has such a vast variety of different delicacies, styles of cooking, and meals. Often only associated with the typical ‘curry’, many forget that Indian desserts are delicious! Here are some Indian desserts you may be missing out on. In fact, the tropical climate of India ensures some of the perfect ingredients for delicious desserts- from sugars to fruits.
Gulab jamun is a type of Indian dessert that is deep fried dough soaked in sugar syrup. Gulab jamun was first prepared in medieval India, and was derived from a Turkish fritter. There is even an old wives tale claiming that this dessert was created by accident by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan’s chef. The sweet syrup that soaks the sweets is often flavoured with cardamom and rose water. The word ‘gulab’ is from Persian origin for the rose syrup. Jamun is a Hindu-Urdu fruit which is a similar shape and size of the sweet. These sticky sweet treats are certainly a celebration dessert!
Gajar halwa is a carrot-based dessert, which is particularly popular in North India. Typically, it is made during the winter. It may seem the most peculiar out of these Indian desserts, as it has ingredients that we typically wouldn’t consider sweet! However, together, they combine to create a delicious light yet gooey texture. Gajar Halwa uses grated carrots, milk, dried fruits, and nuts, all slowly simmered together. In India, red Delhi carrots are often used to make Gajar Halwa; however, you can use any carrots as long as they’re tender. This will make them much easier to grate. Halwa is often cooked for festivals and celebrations, such as Diwali.
Kheer is an Indian rice pudding, made with basmati rice- unlike the traditional Western rice pudding that uses pudding rice. Kheer is often flavoured with saffron and adorned with nuts, such as pistachios or almonds. Kheer is an essential dish for many Hindu celebrations and festivals. Different regions of India have different culinary accents that customise their kheer. For example, in South India, it is called payasam, and it uses jaggery and coconut milk instead of sugar and whole milk. If you want to try Chef Navin’s special kheer recipe, click here.
Kulfi is a traditional Indian ice cream. Although Kulfi looks like Western ice cream, it is much denser and creamier. Typical flavours of kulfi include rose, mango, cardamom, saffron, and pistachio. Kulfi is a non-whipped frozen dairy dessert, making it much denser. It is made be simmering milk until it becomes a very concentrated liquid. This is ideal for India as it melts slower. Kulfi is often frozen onto a stick, making it easy to eat on the go!
Shrikhand is a yoghurt based Indian dessert that is very common in Gujarati cuisines and the Maharashtrian cuisines. This dessert has been in existence for centuries, with ‘Shikhrini’ being found in Sanskrit literature. It is said to have originated in ancient India around 400 BC. In Western India, you’ll find shrikhand being served in thali meals at weddings. Shrikhand is made by handing curd, and then blending and sieving for a luxuriously velvety texture. Shrikhand is the perfect dessert to experiment with flavours, whether it’s the fruitiness of mango or aromatics of cardamom and saffron.
Shahi Tukda is a Hyderabadi delicacy. It literally translates to mean royal pieces. Rich in both aroma and flavours, this dessert is often referred to being ‘fit for a king’. This decadent Mughlai dessert is a fried bread pudding, made with saffron syrup, cardamom and then soaked in rich milk. This dessert is the epitome of Indian indulgence.