10 Indian Sweets to Brighten the Festive Spirit
The festive season is upon us. From August to January, there is a long line of festivals queued up for us in India, and that means it is time to take out the recipe books, handwritten by momma, passed down by grandma, and her momma, and on and on. In India, celebration is incomplete without sweets. So used are we to having sweets that we often have them without any reason at all! For the people of many Indian communities, a full-fledged meal is not complete without serving a sweet or two.
From sweets like Atta Ka Sheera, which take just a few minutes to prepare, to more elaborate ones like Gulab Jamun, we have such a large repertoire of Indian mithai to choose from, and there is always a right one for every occasion. While sweets made for religious occasions use ingredients like coconut, Jaggery and til, there are others like Carrot Halwa and Rabri, which are usually made with sugar and associated with celebrations. A cup of hot Carrot Halwa at the end of a meal is awesome, almost heavenly. When you are feeling more adventurous, top it with a scoop of Rich Vanilla Ice-cream!
Malpuas is an evergreen hit in the northern parts of the country. Whether it is Holi, a wedding or a party, the dessert counter would be incomplete without these warm, deep-fried and syrup-coated flour discs. Serve the Malpuas with Rabri for a grander treat! Badam ka Halwa is equally popular, if not more. This rich and delicious treat is an all-time favourite winter recipe. Grandmas unfailingly advice their grandchildren to have a spoonful of this wholesome halwa, each morning, all through the winter.
Some recipes like Basundi are popular all over the country, although there might be mild variations in the preparation, garnishing and serving methods. Gujarati Basundi is a rich and delicious dessert of thickened milk, very similar to the North Indian Rabri. It is usually served with Puris and Undhiyu. Besan Laddoo is another mithai that is made all over India. It tastes awesome and is quite satiating too. Prepared the right way, it can be stored at room temperature for around 15 days. So, you can make a batch and keep it handy, to snack on occasionally or to serve to kids when they are back from school. Fresh hot syrupy Instant Jalebis is another versatile and evergreen sweet, which fits any occasion – it is a hot-seller on roadside shops, and is as popular at weddings and chaat parties. Basically, any time is Jalebis time!
Luckily for us, the process of sweet-making has also evolved over the years. In the past, making mithai meant that the women slogged in the kitchen for long hours, constantly stirring the ingredients till they got the right consistency. Now, there are easy methods to make any sweet. Halwas, sheeras and burfis can be made in minutes by cooking the ingredients in the microwave oven. Even jalebis can be made instantly without requiring long hours of fermentation, by smartly using ingredients like yeast.
Modern equipment and innovative techniques have taken the sweat and strain out of sweet making. All that’s left is pure, untainted joy! So, what are you waiting for? Put on your mithaiwallah hats, take your pick from our recipes, and get set go...