The Indians love their sweets here. On the streets there are store fronts packed with little homemade confections. Yet, these treats are often so simple. The two staple ingredients are sugar and ghee. Ghee is a clarified butter–butter is melted and simmered until golden brown, then filtered and cooled. Traditionally, ghee is only made from cow’s milk. Ghee is not only used in sweets but also brushed on bread and used in many Indian dishes.
The best way for me to describe this confection is a fried donut hole soaked in syrup. I know that sounds crazy but it is amazing. The dough itself is actually made from milk solids and flour then deep fried at a low temperature. Then, the balls are soaked in a sweet syrup flavored with rosewater or cardamom.
Often times other flavors, spices, and nuts are added to create different combinations.
The picture to the left is chocolate coconut burfi. It is soft and chewy like a brownie- yum!
Boondi Ladoo tastes like ball of rice crispies with spices.
Really, it is coarse chickpea flour, ghee, nuts, and raisins. At first, I thought it contained shredded carrot due to the orange color, but it turns out it is just coloring. This is a popular treat during Diwali.
Indian rice pudding is known my many names. In the north they call it, Kheer. But in south India they call it payasam. The Hyderabadi version, to make it more confusing, is called Gil e firdaus which literally means “the clay of paradise.”
All of the versions are made similarly, boiling rice, milk, and sugar along with spices with a topping of nuts. The version we had at Tagore (as seen in the picture) was not very sweet and contained bits of cashews.
Jalebi is a delicious sweet concocted on the streets! A batter of wheat flour is drizzled in hot oil in round shapes. It fries up to be crunchy and then is soaked in syrup for a sweet-crystalized confection, juicy and crunchy at once!
Balushadi is similar to a mini glazed donut hole–dense and cakey but juicy with syrup.
Mysore Pak was first created in Karnataka, India in the Mysore Palace! Ghee, sugar, and graham flour are boiled down and hardened. Often times, nuts are added as well.
Halwa is like a sweet relish. Shredded vegetables (such as beet or carrot) or fruits are cooked in ghee, sugar, and spices until juicy and delicious. Many times nuts and raisins are added. (Shown to the left are green squash and carrot halwa- the pictures don’t look very appetizing, but it is delicious!)