Only sweet-toothed candy crushers need apply. We are diving head first into the delightfully saccharine world of North Indian sweets and desserts. So if you feel like taking a break from your diet (not a bad idea) or adding a few exotic North Indian flavours to your list of favourite desserts, I have lined up 7 of my favourite North Indian Sweets or mithai. I like to think of it as a compilation of Very Good Reasons to eat dessert first. Without further ado…
Kheer is what happens when a fairy godmother puts a spell on porridge. This is a dish of rice boiled in milk and sugar, and flavoured with cardamom, raisins, saffron, pistachios, almonds or cashews. A delight of a dessert, kheer can be consumed warm or cold. It’s known by different names: payasam in South India and payesh in Bengal.
Rasgulla is arguably India’s most famous dessert. You’ll find these little cheeseballs soaked in sugary syrup in every mithai shop and even more abundantly in Orissa, where the recipe originated. Made from paneer (Indian cottage cheese) boiled in sugar syrup and set to dry, India’s favourite dessert is known by several names, including rasagola (Oriya) and roshogolla (Bengal).
5. Kaju Barfi
What makes kaju barfi really special is that thin layer of edible silver (yes, real silver!) that sits oh-so-invitingly atop the diamond-cut Indian sweet. A culinary inheritance from the imperial kitchens of the Mughal Empire, barfi is a type of North Indian sweet made from thickened milk, dry fruits and nuts.
Squiggly and crispy bright orange crackers, the highly popular jalebi is nothing more than a sweet golden mess. Made correctly, it is crunchy on the outside and slightly syrupy on the inside. Jalebis have a unique preparation method that looks more like fun and less like work!
3. Soan Papdi
Soan papdi are these gloriously soft flakes that fall apart in your hands and literally melt in your mouth. You wonder how sohan papdi manages to stay in its square shape for so long. Made from gram flour, pistachios, almonds and rosewater, this crumbly meringue-like confectionary is especially popular during Diwali. But I wouldn’t recommend waiting till Diwali before getting your hands on this brilliant North Indian sweet.
2. Ras Malai
Ras malai is the quintessential Indian summer dessert. It is best consumed cool and perfectly capable of sending saccharine shivers of delight down your throat. This Indian dessert is basically a sweet dumpling of ricotta/cottage cheese soaked in a sweetened milk delicately flavoured with cardamom, pistachios and rose water. Super sinful but so, so good.
1. Gulab Jamun
Gulab jamun is the mother of all Indian desserts. It is made from freshly curdled milk, deep fried and soaked in a thick and dangerously delicious syrup of rosewater and saffron. Best eaten warm, gulab jamun is especially popular in winter or when the weather is cool. Be warned: the sugar content in gulab jamuns is astronomical.