"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 cannot resist reading the dessert menu at the restaurant. Dessert is the grand finale of a fantastic meal. Some might say that without a sweet finish, a meal is not complete.

Every culture, country and city has their famous dessert. For instance, it is a severe sin to leave New York City without trying a Manhattan-style cheesecake. Likewise, it's downright unthinkable to board your flight at Charles de Gaulle airport without having had a delightful creme brulé in a Parisien café. Also, tourists shouldn't even be allowed to leave Venice without indulging in at least two or three tiramisus!

The simple sweetness of a well-made dessert makes us say "Yum" or "Wow", and we are always happy that we saved room in our tummies for a decadent delight. 

Also, after an awful day at the office, at times, 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.

But, what about India? Is India bound to have delicious desserts that set your pallet on fire? Without further delay, Superprof is here to show readers that Indian cuisine is iconic for its curries and samosas and its delightful desserts that will have you begging for more!

In today's article, we'll talk about why you should take the time to try out Indian desserts, some of the essential cooking components of Indian dessert recipes, and we'll take a culinary tour and examine what typical desserts are famous in the North, South, East and West parts of India.

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Why Explore Indian Dessert Recipes?

When exploring a new culture, there are so many worthwhile components that merit your time. Such as? The clothing, the history, the language, the festivals and celebrations, and the cuisine. Honestly, a person can spend their entire life analyzing and studying a specific culture in particular and barely reach its end!

So, with so many cultures to discover, the question arises, why would a person spend their time exploring Indian desserts? The following list highlight some critical reasons:

  • They're Unique: unlike many British desserts that you grew up eating, Indian sweets are unique and boast many different flavours that feel like tiny explosions in your mouth. Also, as we will look at in today's article, each region or part of the country has its sweet treats.
  • Try New Ingredients: when it comes to flavour profiles and ingredients used, Indian cuisine couldn't be any more different from dishes that hail from the UK. By trying Indian desserts, home chefs learn how to utilize spices such as cardamom and cloves and food items such as ghee. The more ingredients you are familiar with, the better your plates will be.

While we could go on and on describing all the additional reasons to explore Indian desserts, we're sure that the reasons mentioned above are enough to get you started!

What are Some of the Typical Food Components in Indian Desserts?

Depending on the ingredients available at the time and the type of climate, the cuisine from a specific region of the world is vastly different from other geographic locations.

For instance, due to the harsh climate during the winters in Quebec, Canada, meat pies, potatoes, and heavy food in fat are eaten to deal with the cold and because fresh ingredients aren't readily available. On the other hand, in a different area such as the Medditrrewan, where it is beautiful all year round, citizens of Greece and Croatia regularly feast on fresh ingredients such as vegetables and fish.

So, since India is such a unique country, there are bound to be ingredients considered "staples" of Indian cuisine, correct? Absolutely!

The following is a list of different items that are under the categories of grain, spices, oils, and legumes that are regularly used in Indian cuisine:

  • Basmati rice,
  • Rice flour, 
  • Mung beans, 
  • Sesame oil, 
  • Bay leaves, 
  • Coriander, 
  • Masoor, 
  • Cardomom,
  • Cinnamon, 
  • Saffron, 
  • Turmeric, 
  • Garam Masala, 
  • Chickpeas, 
  • Limes, 
  • Star Anise, 
  • Cashews, 
  • Pistachios. 

Most Indian dishes, desserts, sides, or mains, are likely to feature most of the previously mentioned ingredients that are typical and easy to find in India. However, one thing is sure, India loves its spices!

Typical Desserts from the North of India

yummy food
Jalebi is a typical dessert most commonly found in Northern India. Delicious when crunchy and accompanied by a Masala tea. (Source: pixabay)

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 in the North, such as Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi and English.

The cuisine from Northern India is what Westerners are most familiar with in UK-based Indian restaurants. 

Without further ado, here are the best dessert recipes that Northern India has to offer:

  • Gulab Jamun: probably one of India's most recognizable and beloved, Gulab Jamun is an undeniable classic of Indian cuisine. The sweet dumplings are made of thickened or reduced milk and are put in a rose flavoured sugar syrup; yum! Many foreigners call these treats "Indian doughnuts" and find them difficult to resist. The rose water creates a beautiful aroma that is different from other desserts you may have eaten. Gulab Jamun is relatively easy to make in your kitchen with household items and only takes about 50 minutes from start to finish.
  • Jalebi: a trendy Indian dessert treat, Jalebi consists of maida and sugar syrup. Jalebi is usually served in Northern India during special occasions and festivals. For the best jalebis, the doughy mixture 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, or 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 then fried to perfection.
  • Ras Malai: Indian desserts are incredibly decadent and creamy, and Ras Malai is no exception. Ras Malai is dumplings made of cottage or ricotta cheese that has been soaked in sweetened, thickened milk flavoured with cardamom. This dessert is served chilled with dried fruit on top. It takes approximately 100 minutes or an hour and a half to prepare Ras Malai yet, keep in mind, that doesn't include the few hours it takes to chill in the fridge.
  • Kheer: an Indian take on rice pudding; Kheer 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. The Kheer recipe calls for condensed milk, basmati rice, almonds, raisins and saffron.

All of the desserts mentioned above are delicious and sure to impress any dinner guest. However, regardless is a dessert, side dish, or complete meal, Indian food is very complex, varied and simply divine!

Now, what are the best Indian desserts from Eastern India? Keep on reading to find out more!

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The Best Dessert Recipes from Eastern India

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Natives of India have a sweet tooth and enjoy delicious desserts and sweets. (Source: pixabay)

Eastern India consists of four central 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; that's a lot of people!

East India is known for the Bengali language, the Bay of Bengal, its unique culture, breathtaking landmarks,  and, of course, its food! 

Many culinary delights are unique to Eastern India and the region of Bengal. Such as? Without delaying the matter any further, the following are the most iconic desserts from Eastern India:

  • Khaja: layered fritters that have been dipped in sugar syrup, Khaja is a special treat. This recipe does not call for very many ingredients and can be stored in a Tupperware container for up to 2 weeks after making it. Usually enjoyed by natives of East India during special festivals and occasions, Khaja has a unique flavour profile. Nevertheless, many Eastern Indians savour Khaja with tea among friends after a big meal.
  • Cham-Cham: a delicious dessert is known as "pleasure boats", Cham-cham can also be used as a term of endearment to loved ones. Cham-chams are savoury, sweet and exciting to make. Firstly, milk is heated until the curds separate from the milk. Secondly, the curds are hung in a cheesecloth for about an hour. Next, knead the cheese until the mixture is smooth and forms into balls ready to be cooked. Cham-chams are pretty complicated to make and time-consuming, but the result is guaranteed to be delicious!
  • Mishti Doi: a popular Bengali dessert that is known as sweet yoghurt, Mishti Doi is a mixture that 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 with the right ingredients, Sandesh only takes about 15 minutes to complete, including cooking time. The almonds, pistachios and cardamom powder make this dessert unique to the area of Eastern India.

Making Eastern India desserts has never been so feasible with the recipes mentioned above. However, as a budding chef taking an Indian food cooking course, it is advisable to try new recipes that open your horizons and change your viewpoints about other cultures. You never grow if you continue to stay in your comfort zone.

Best Dessert Recipes from the South of India

eating yummy desserts
Maa Ladoo is a recipe that can be made in under 30 minutes and enjoyed by the entire family. (Source: pixabay)

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. The Southern regions occupy 19% of India's total area.

The total population of Southern India is estimated to be around 253 million inhabitants, and residents speak one of the four Dravidian languages: Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam. Indian cuisine is a bit different in this region because fish is included in various dishes. Nevertheless, like in all Indian states and territories, rice is the staple diet.

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Similar inhabitants from different parts of the world, the people of Southern India have a sweet tooth and enjoy delicious desserts. Such as? The following are some of the most acclaimed desserts from the South of India:

  • Mysore Pak: a famous dessert recipe from Southern India, Mysore Pak can be made in your home in the UK. Mysore Pak is made using gram flour, sugar and ghee. What cooks enjoy about Mysore Pak is that it's straightforward to make and can be prepared in under 30 minutes. Some chefs add delicious elements such as dried fruits and nuts to tweak the recipe slightly. Mysore Pak is typically served on special occasions such as Diwali, Pongal or Onam.
  • Kesari Bhath: a sweet orange pudding, Kesari Bhath is both smooth and savoury. Kesari Bhath requires Rava (cream of wheat), sugar, dried fruits and ghee. Also, turmeric powder gives this dessert its vibrant orange colour and an extra kick of flavour.
  • Maa Ladoo: a sweet recipe loved by children and adults all over India, Maa Ladoo is a recipe that calls for sugar, cashew nuts, cardamom, ghee and pottukadalai (chutney daal). This recipe only takes 25 minutes to make, including prep and cook time. Maa Ladoo can be stored in the fridge for ten days after it has been made.

All of the recipes mentioned above give your family a sweet taste of Southern India in under 30 minutes. Adults with children in the UK should attempt to make these Southern Indian desserts so that their kids may develop an enhanced palette and an appreciation for the culinary delicacies of another country.

The Most Famous Dessert Recipes from Western India

yummy festivals desserts
Modak is typical to Southern India and has a creamy texture and filling of coconut and jaggery. Simply irresistible! (Source: Visual Hunt)

The Western region of India includes the states of Goa, Gujarat, Maharastra and Rajasthan, 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. Mumbai is not only an air traffic hub but also usually a person's first introduction to India.

In the Western regions of India, culture, language, religion, and cuisine is varied and greatly revered. 

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 sure: there are tasty desserts to be had!

Without further ado, here are some of the best dessert recipes from the West of India:

  • Modak: a sweet dumpling popular in the state of Maharastra, Modak is enjoyed during the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi. Modak is a combination of coconut and jaggery; they are both used to stuff the little dumpling. What's excellent about Modak is that it's a simple recipe to make and can be tweaked according to your palate. Modak has a delightful texture and is beloved by Indian people of all ages from the West and other regions.
  • Puran Poli: a sweet dessert that takes about 30 minutes to make, Puran Poli features chana dal, flour, cardamom and sugar. Puran Poli is a dessert usually cooked for festivals and special occasions but can also be made for school lunches and eaten for breakfast with savoury Masala tea; yummy in my tummy!
  • Shrikhand: popular dessert recipe made with curd, cardamom powder and saffron, Shrikhand is delicious. Variations of Shrikhand feature seasonal fruits such as apricots and mangoes. This dessert takes only 15 minutes to make and is excellent to satisfy your sweet spot after a heavy meal. We powerfully suggest topping it with pistachios and almonds to improve flavour and add a little crunch.

Are you drooling yet? Are you dedicated and interested in trying all of the Indian desserts from the North, South, East, and West mentioned in today's article? If so, you're not alone!

The Best Places to Find Indian Desserts in the United Kingdom

Though it's a highly recommended, enriching, and transformative experience to make Indian desserts on your own in your home kitchen, some people don't have the time. Does that mean that you must travel to India to try Indian desserts? Not necessarily.

As the world continues to become a melting pot and global village, many people from different cultures open up restaurants and shops in lands such as the UK that sell local items from their home country. Therefore, finding freshly made Indian desserts in UK-based cities like London that boast immigrants from hundreds of different countries shouldn't be a problem, especially considering how many Indians immigrate to England!

But, which are the best shops to find Indian desserts in cities across the UK? While it's worth stating that the "top" Indian dessert places in the United Kingdom may differ depending on who you ask, the following are some great options to start with:

  • Barfia: boasting many different locations around the UK in cities such as London, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, and Leicester, to name a few, Barfia has been in business for five years now and is known for bringing an artisanal twist to traditional Indian sweets. Try their deep red velvety ladoo!
  • Gupta's Indian Sweets and Savouries: with three locations in the London area, Gupta's has become a popular chain of shops where curious individuals can try delicious Indian sweets for a reasonable price. Gupta's has sweets, savoury items, and speciality desserts for Diwali.

The two previously mentioned shops are a great place to start when searching for Indian sweets in the UK. We hope that visiting an Indian dessert establishment will inspire you to start cooking and trying new recipes.

Helpful Tips and Tricks to Successfully Make Indian Desserts

Though it may be a great idea to cook new recipes and try new things in the kitchen, at times, it can be an overwhelming experience for those who don't have much practice in the culinary arts; this is especially true when attempting to cook recipes from a different country like India.

So, how can amateur cooks enjoy trying new Indian dessert recipes and have success? By heeding the counsel and tips of more experienced ones.

The following are three practical pieces of advice that make creating Indian desserts more manageable and efficient:

  • Know Your Spices: since Indian cuisine is full of delicious and fragrant spices such as cardamom, garam masala, turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and cloves, if you want to cook some delicious Indian desserts, it's powerfully suggested to get to know the flavour profile of each one and see how well they combine. By knowing your spices and their taste, you'll know what your dessert is missing and how to tweak it effectively.
  • Have the Right Equipment: there is nothing more frustrating than starting to cook a recipe and then realizing midway through that you are missing an essential kitchen tool such as a spatula, a mixing bowl, or a whisk. So, to avoid any unfortunate incidents, you should equip yourself with necessary baking tools that may include specific items like pastry brushes, rolling pins, and measuring cups.
  • Take Your Time: while a recipe might let you know how long it takes to complete, try to enjoy yourself and get the elements of the dessert recipe correct instead of worrying about the time. If it takes you longer than you previously anticipated, that's fine; the result of a delicious dessert is more important.

In conclusion, it's worth mentioning that India is a food paradise. By looking at the more traditional recipes, you can become skilled at creating beautiful lunches, dinners, and desserts that you and others can enjoy. The unique flavours and aromas of Indian cuisine make it many people's favourite. Thankfully, due to the constant migration of Indians to the United Kingdom, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to Indian markets, restaurants and spice selection in supermarkets.

So, don't be afraid to embrace something new because learning how to make these classic Indian dessert recipes in the comfort of your own home is a fulfilling experience!

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Brentyn

Avid movie-goer, reader, skier and language learner. Passionate about life, food and travelling.