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Category: Sweets and Desserts

The variety of Indian sweets and desserts available in Indian sweet shops is mind-boggling. There is nothing similar in the Western culture. Every Indian festival and every happy occasion is celebrated by distributing sweets to family, friends, and neighbors.

Traditional Indian sweets come in multiple shapes, sizes, flavors, and colors. Some common categories, with endless permutations and combinations, are: barfi, halwa, laddu, and kheer or payasam as it’s called in South India.

Barfi is a cake-like sweet. It is usually some variation of thickened milk combined with different nuts and fruits, and cooked until all moisture is evaporated. Halwa is like a thick and dry porridge, and made with cream of wheat, and different flours and fruits. Laddu is made with different flours, grains, and nuts and shaped into small balls. Kheer or payasam is like a pudding, and usually contains milk.

Many sweets are made with khoa (mava) — fresh milk is boiled and cooked down until all water evaporates, leaving a thick, creamy dough, somewhat like fudge. It’s time-consuming to make khoa, but it adds a rich, creamy texture to barfis and other sweets.

Other popular sweets and desserts are made with cottage cheese and served in flavored sugar syrup, such as rasagullah and ras malai.

Many of these retro sweets and desserts are high in calories and fat, so moderation is key when consuming these rich desserts. Use low-fat alternatives when possible, and cut down the frequency and quantity of sweets you consume to maintain good health.

Here are some Indian desserts that are wonderful and quite easy to make. Try this traditional Kheer (rice pudding), or browse below for more recipes.

Kulfi

Kulfi

| March 13, 2013 Comment

Kulfi is a kind of Indian ice cream made with thickened milk and sugar. In India, street vendors sell different kinds of kulfi in summer. Kulfi has a delicate, caramelized taste, and is the best dessert you can have on hot summer days. Since this dessert is made with milk, nuts, and fruits, it is […]

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Khoa

Khoa

| March 13, 2013 Comment

Khoa is unsweetened condensed milk that’s cooked down until it has a dough-like consistency. Khoa or mava is a common ingredient in many Indian sweets and desserts, such as pedha and different kinds of barfis. It adds a rich, creamy taste to sweets. It takes a while to make this but if you want to […]

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Kheer

Kheer

| March 13, 2013 Comment

Made with rice and milk, kheer is the most popular pudding in India. Although it’s referred to as rice pudding, it bears no resemblance to the Western baked rice pudding. Kheer has a creamy texture, and is lightly sweetened, and is usually flavored with ground cardamom or rose water. In the South, this rice pudding […]

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Bottlegourd Halwa

Bottlegourd Halwa

| March 8, 2013 Comment

Bottlegourd halwa is made with grated bottlegourd (lauki, doodhi, ghiya, sorakaya) and milk and makes a healthy dessert. This is an easy recipe. Although it takes a while to make this dessert, it’s worth it. This is a different way to use this vegetable. As the cooked bottlegourd is slightly sweet, it’s well-suited for desserts. […]

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Banana Sheera

Banana Sheera

| March 7, 2013 Comment

Banana Sheera or halwa is popular all over India, and is one of the sweets offered to deities (prasad/prasadam) in temples during festivals. Made with semolina (cream of wheat), this sweet is known as sheera in Maharashtra, while in the north and south India, it’s called halwa. The regular sheera does not contain bananas; but […]

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