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Sweets Of India. By Drishti Choudhury. Sweets are some of the most important things in life to an Indian – apart from engineering/medical school, politics, Bollywood films, and cricket matches, that is.

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Sweets Of India

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Sweets Of India

By Drishti Choudhury

Sweets are some of the most important things in life to an Indian – apart from engineering/medical school, politics, Bollywood films, and cricket matches, that is.

They can be eaten on any occasion. Not that an occasion is needed to devour sweets on a regular basis.

Anything and everything can be celebrated with a box full of sweets – weddings, births, festivals. Any occasion, important or not, can be celebrated with a platter full of sweets.

Original Sweetshops


  • Bhim Nag

    • Famous for sandesh

    • Home to highly important clientele (ie. Dr. B.C. Roy, J.C. Bose, etc.)

    • Invented ledikeni in honor of Lady Canning (wife of Governer-General of Calcutta in 19th century)

  • K.C. Das

    • Nobin Chandra Das (father to K.C. Das) introduced rasgulla to Calcutta

    • Also improved already existing sandesh (from coarse to smooth paste)

    • K.C. Das & Sharadacharan (son of K.C. Das) opened shop together

    • Sharadacharan invented rasmalai (rasgulla in milky syrup)

  • Dwarika Ghosh

    • Claimed to have largest shop in all of Bengal

  • Ganguram

    • Famous for mishti doi; quality unmatched


  • Various types

    • Distinguished by region and

      ingredients from which it is prepared

  • Most common are soojihalwa(semolina), aate ka halwa(wheat), moongdal ka halwa(moong bean), gajarhalwa (carrot), chanadalhalwa(chickpea), Satyanarayanhalwa(variation of soojihalwa, with traces of banana), kajuhalwa(cashew), and many others

  • Tirunelveli City in Tamil Nadu referred to as “Halwa City” for it’s famous halwa

  • Prepared in countries all over eastern Europe, South Asia, the Middle East, and parts of Africa and South America, as well

  • Pronounced very similarly around the world (ie. halawa, helava, aluva, chalwa, halewah, helwa, etc.)

    • Comes from the Arabic “halwa”, meaning “sweet”

Mishti Doi

- Sweet yogurt dish

- Common in West Bengal and Bangladesh, as well as Orissa

  • Made with milk and sugar, along with yogurt and curd

  • Sweetened with either gur (brown sugar) or khajuri gur (date molasses), and fermented over-night

  • Occasionally seasoned with cardamoms for fragrance


  • A sweet dumpling

  • Popular in Western and South India

  • Sweet filling consists of fresh coconut

    and jaggery (sugar)

  • Shell formed from rice flour

  • Has importance in the worship of elephant god, Ganesh

    • Known as his favorite food

  • Known as “modak” in Marathi, “modhaka” in Kannada, “modagam” or “kozhakkattai” in Tamil, and “kudumu” in Telegu.


- Sweet rice-based dish

- Traditional South Indian dish

- Made by boiling rice (or broken wheat) with milk and sugar

- Flavored with cardamom, raisins, saffron, pistachios, or almonds

  • Certain ingredients substituted in different regions, resulting in different tastes and consistencies

  • Known as “kheer” in Northern India, Pakistan, and Nepal; called “payasa” or “payasam” in South India, referred to as “payesh” in the Bengal region.

  • Also considered auspicious

    • Associated with annaprashana (rice ceremony) and birthday celebrations in Bengali households


  • Sweet dish served on festive


  • Made from gram flour (besan),

    semolina, wheat flakes, and/or other types of flour

  • Shaped into small balls

  • Often prepared on festivals or significant house-hold events, such as weddings and births

  • Given as prasad at Hindu temples

  • Vary in size


- Sweet rice- based dish

- Native to South India

- Contains ingredients such as rice, jaggery (sugar), and coconut pieces.

- Jaggery sometimes subsituted with candy sugar

  • Jaggery-based pongal creates dark-brown coloring, while sugar-based pongal turns a shade of white

  • Generally prepared in temples as prasad (offerings to god)

  • Also prepared during festival of Pongal in Southern India (MakarSankranti), a festival celebrating the harvest

  • Other types of pongal include venpongal, a popular breakfast dish in South India, and melagupongal, a spicier version, cooked with pepper and rice.

Rasgulla (Rosogolla)

  • Cheese-based, syrupy dish

  • Originated in temple-town of Puri in Orissa

    • Art of rasgulla-making eventually caught up in


  • Made from balls of chenna (Indian

    cottage cheese) & semolina dough (coarse

    grain used in pasta, breakfast cereal, etc.), then cooked in sugary syrup.

  • In city of Puri, Orissa, rasgulla used as offerings to goddess Lakshmi

  • Several varieties

    • Rajbhog, Kamalabhog

  • Predecessor to sweets such as chennajhilli, rasmalai, chennagaja, raskadam, chamcham, pantua, malai chop, kheersagar, and sandesh

Mysore Pak

-Sweet dish, normally served as a dessert

- Originated in Karnataka

-Made from large amounts of ghee, sugar, and chick peas.

-Was originally known as Masoor Pak, and was made

from Masoor dal flour(besan).

  • People say the dish was first created in the Mysore

    Palace by a palace cook named Kakasura Madappa


  • Thick, semi-soft sweets

  • Originated in Uttar Pradesh

  • Main ingredients are khoa (milk

    food), and sugar

  • Flavored with cardamom seeds, pistachio nuts, and saffron

  • Color varies from a creamy white to caramel brown

  • Sometimes used as a prasad in religious Hindu services and festivities


- Sweet, deep-fried dish

- Was most likely introduced during Muslim rule of India- Made from deep-fried batter (consisting of maida flour) in a pretzel-shape, and soaked in syrup

  • Can be served warm or cold, and has a slightly chewy texture

  • Similar sweet, reddish-orange in color and slightly sweeter in taste, known as imarti made in Northern India

  • Served as “Celebration Sweet of India”, especially during national holidays (Independence Day, Republic Day, etc.)

  • One of the most popular sweets in Pakistan

    • Boiled in milk and left to stand before consumption as a remedy for headaches

  • In Northern India, sweet dipped in milk and eaten


  • Sweet, pancake-like dessert

  • Very popular in Bangladesh, West

    Bengal, and Maharashtra

  • Prepared in most areas by crushing ripened

    bananas or coconuts, and adding flour, water, and milk

  • Occasionally seasoned with cardamoms

  • Deep fried in oil, and served while hot

  • Bihar version of dish has sugar added prior to frying, while common method in Orissa dips fritters in syrup afted frying

  • Other types of malpua substitute ripe bananas with pineapples or mangos

  • In Bengal, dish is made with only thickened milk and flour

  • Popular sweet to make on Holi


- Dough-based dish

- Popular dessert in India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh

- Made from dough consisting of milk solids and flour

  • Flavored with cardamom seeds and rosewater or saffron

  • Originated from Arabic dessert, Luqmat Al-Qadi(Arabic for “the judge’s bite)

  • Common dish at weddings and other festive occasions

  • Also known as “waffle balls”

  • Several other varieties

    • Ledikeni, pantua, langcha, kalojam, and others


  • Sweet, milk-based snack

  • Originated and remains popular in

    Bengali regions

  • Created with milk and sugar

  • Rasmalai is modified version of dish

    • Sandesh is dry; rasmalai is served in a milky syrup

  • People of Dhaka call dish “pranahara” (“heart-stealer”)

    • Softer kind of sandesh, made with mawa and curd

  • Special type of sandesh prepared during winter months

    • Made with nalengur/notungur (molasses/jaggery)


    Which sweet is traditionally prepared during the South Indian holiday, Pongal?

    (answer: sakarai pongal)


    Which dish usually contains crushed ripe bananas?

    (answer: malpua)


    Which dessert is thought to be the favorite of the elephant-god, Ganesh?

    (answer: modak)


    Mishti doi is a ________dish. (fill in the blank)

    (answer: yogurt)


    Which sweet is given as an offering to the goddess, Lakshmi?

    (answer: rasgulla)


    Which dish is represented in the picture? (→)

    (answer: gulab jamun)


    What do you call a Bengalee who doesn’t enjoy sweets?

    (answer: an oxymoron)


    (only 7 easy questions; don’t worry!)






    All Information Gained From The Following Sites:

    www.wikipedia.org, http://www.enotes.com/food-encyclopedia/hindu-festivalsand http://indianfood.indianetzone.com/1/history_indian_sweets.htm

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