India’s festivities do not disappoint those who want to experience life to the fullest. Diwali is the most well-known and widely recognised festival in India. People go to considerable lengths to prepare for this ceremony, which recalls the triumph of good over evil, as told in the Ramayana.
On Diwali, Lord Ram returned to his kingdom of Ayodhya with his wife Sita and brother Lakshman after killing the Lankan tyrant Ravana and serving 14 years in exile. Diwali is associated with the Goddess of Wealth, Lakshmi, and is celebrated with pomp and ceremony. It usually lasts 5 days and is widely observed across the country.
Homes are renovated and repainted, lamps are lit, fireworks are shown, and milk, nut, and fruit-based delicacies are produced and distributed. Rangolis, or floral designs made of colourful rice flour, are produced, and family members gather for a feast and gift exchange.
Sweets are an integral part of traditional holidays, and families enjoy creating a variety of cuisines in-house. There are desserts for every taste, with each location having its own specialty.
1. Badam Puri
This is a deep-fried nutty-flavored dough-based delicacy made with almond and wheat flour kneaded with butter, salt, and water. Using a rolling pin, this dough is folded, flattened, and formed into traditional triangles. This folding and rolling technique results in a crispy outside layer and a soft, moist inside layer for the dessert. The deep-fried dough is then soaked in a sugar syrup scented with saffron and cardamom. Honey and rose water can be used to enhance the flavour. This cuisine hails from the southern state of Karnataka and is known to create nostalgic feelings. It is a simple recipe that takes only the most basic ingredients and can be prepared quickly. Grated toasted coconut combined with almond slivers is the traditional garnish. Modern varieties may include koha or reduced milk fudge as a filling.
2. Sweet Kadabu or Gujiya
This traditional Diwali dish is cooked across the country and has become a household staple. It varies according to the tastes of the local population and the indigenous ingredients found in the location. South Indian versions are notable for their filling of grated coconut, jaggery, and cardamom. Northern variations are heavier, filled with Kova or reduced milk fudge and topped with slivers of cashews, almonds, and sugar. In the south, the outer wrapper is composed of rice flour, whereas in the north, it is made of wheat and semolina. Steamed or deep-fried options are available, depending on your tastes. Steamed variants of this dessert delicacy may also include mashed bananas, cinnamon, jaggery, and nuts. Another typical Kerala filling is jackfruit stewed and mashed with ghee and jaggery.
- Doodh Peda
This is one of the most popular sweet treats in traditional Indian sweet shops. It has a creamy, fudge-like texture and is lightly flavoured with spices like cardamom or saffron, as well as rose water. In a large kadai, milk is heated until it evaporates, leaving only the milk solids behind. This causes the milk sugars to caramelise and the milk proteins to solidify, resulting in a wet yet fudgy texture.This is the base for the meal, which is then flavoured with floral petals, sliced dry almonds, sweet-smelling spices, and other natural components. Saffron and almonds are favourites, but the options are limitless. Some variations include jaggery in the fudge, giving it a darker, earthier colour and flavour. This classic dessert is topped with powdered sugar, saffron milk, pistachio chunks, and rose petals. Most families exchange sweet boxes including a variety of pedas.
- Kaju Pista Roll
These cashew nut and milk fudge cigars with sweet pistachio nut fillings are both visually and sensory appealing. In an innovative method, they blend two of North India’s favourite ingredients, milk and nuts. If you like kaju katli, you’ll love kaju pista rolls. Pureed cashew nuts are blended with milk fudge, or kova, before being folded into sheets and filled with a pistachio, cardamom, and saffron crumble. Then they’re topped with edible silver leaf and saffron stamens.The crumbly, nutty filling matches the smooth and fudgy top layer well.
- Gajar ka Halwa
Carrot halwa has to be the one dish that instantly transports an expat to India. Halwa is a sweet pudding made by slow boiling fruit and vegetables with milk and sugar until they form a smooth, creamy, and sweet pudding texture. Halwa can also be cooked with ash gourd, ridge gourd, carrots, and even semolina. The colour and texture of the dish differ depending on whether white, palm, or jaggery sugar is used. To prepare gajar halwa, fresh red or orange carrots are cooked with ghee, milk, milk solids, condensed milk, sugar, and almonds.Modern variations use purple or black carrots for a unique and delectable dessert. It can be served either hot or cold, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.
- Motichur Ladoo
Ladoos are traditional Indian pastries made from a variety of components such as rice flour, coconut, semolina, besan or gramme flour, ragi flour, and wheat flour. This ladoo is created with gramme flour caviar that has been deep fried in oil or ghee and then soaked in a creamy and sweet sugar syrup before being shaped into the traditional ladoo. The saffron hue of this ladoo is obtained by blending saffron with roasted chickpea or grame flour and water, resulting in a runny batter that is flash fried to generate caviar-like grains. These are then steeped in a simple syrup of sugar, saffron, and cardamom.When pressed, ladoo has a fragile texture and crumbles readily. When done properly, it melts on your tongue and leaves you wanting more.
This is a traditional milk cake from India’s Northern Plains. It is available in a variety of flavours and is also known as malai burfi or milk burfi. It has a delicate, gritty texture and a rich, lactose-based sweetness from the reduced milk fudge used. This sets the stage for the artist to perform their magic and create combinations that captivate the child within all of us. Milk solids are traditionally coagulated and simmered with sugar and almonds. Modern, faster versions contain milk, khoya (milk fudge), grated paneer (cottage cheese), condensed milk, and a variety of nuts and sweet scented spices. These are blended and cooked over low heat before being lined in a tray to cool. The bars are then cut into the proper forms and adorned with saffron, nut slivers, and silver leaf. This dessert is supposed to have originated in the North Indian state of Rajasthan.