Most of us have put on a few extra kilos after feeding off Kaju Katlis and Son Papdis post the festive season. That is the thing about Indian festivals; it is simply incomplete without sweets. They are our constant companion through every happiness, every milestone of our life. The way Gulab Jamun brings together all the family members in the living room post-dinner, or how Kaju Katlis bring together families during Diwali just bears evidence to the fact that how Indian Sweets have always been an integral part of our life.
The diversity of India means there will be an array of sweets hailing from different parts of the country and most of us have in fact aren’t even aware of the many unique and underrated sweets that will linger in your mouth and heart for a long time. So, here are the top 12 unique sweets that you must try if you want to pride yourself as being a sweet lover.
1. Parwal mithai
What happens when you take a vegetable and try and turn it into a dessert? You get an amazingly unique sweet called Parwal mithai. Hailing from Bihar, this sweet is quite simple to make, yet it can easily become the center of attraction at any gathering owing to its delectable taste. The Parwal is first boiled and soaked in sugar syrup and after that, it is stuffed with khoya. The crunch of Parwal with the softness and sweetness of khoya makes this dessert, unlike anything you have eaten before.
Where to get: Harilal’s- Markanday Complex, Gaytri Mandir Road, Kankarbagh, Patna, BR 800020
This beauty eaten on the western coast of India especially in Goa is quite a unique delicacy. It is prepared by mixing grated coconut, jaggery, rice and cooking them in a turmeric leaf. The sweet is a part of both the Christian and Hindu legacy. It is prepared on Ganesh Chaturthi, Nag Panchami and as the folklore goes this sweet was the favorite of Goddess Parvati during her pregnancy. For the Goan Catholics, this sweet is an important part of The Catholic feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and interestingly it forms a part of the Bride’s trousseau for both Hindus and Catholics. Now a sweet with such legacy and such an interesting back story has to taste amazing.
Where to get: Caetano de Albuquerque Rd, Opposite Hotel Delmon, Altinho, Panjim, Goa
3. Maa Vilakku
If you are looking for some sweet to make an offering to the deities then Maa Vilakku is THE sweet. This unique sweet hailing from South India is literally in the shape of a lamp. It is dough made from rice flour, jaggery, and cardamom. This sweet supposedly can only be consumed after it has been offered to the Gods. So next Diwali instead of buying lamps why not make them, after all, edible lamps don’t sound like a bad idea now, does it?
Where to get: SGS Complex, No. 1 Tolgate, Pichandavar Kovil, Srirangam, Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu
4. Chhena Jhili
Odisha prides itself on giving the world some unique sweets and Chenna jhili is one of those. As the name suggests it is made from chenna that is Indian cottage cheese and then it is put into the sugar syrup. However, this sweet has quite an interesting backstory. Apparently, it originated in a village named Nimapada and the recipe of the sweet is a well-kept family secret and no one outside that family knows the exact recipe of the sweet. Apparently, it is made just like Rasgulla yet it manages to taste different. With so much mystique surrounding a sweet-tasting, this should definitely be on your bucket list if you haven’t done it already.
Where to get: It will be available in most sweetshops of Puri and if you want more authenticity, you can visit the village of Nimapada nearby.
5. Bal mithai
If you have been to Uttarakhand and have not had Bal mithai then your visit to Uttarakhand has been incomplete. It is a local favorite and a specialty of the Almora district. It is basically made by cooking khoya with cane sugar. The origin of the sweet goes back to the early 20th century and it is said to be an invention of Lala Joga Ram Shah of Lal Bazaar, Almora. The sweet has featured in many local folklore and is an integral part of the state’s cultural lineage.
Where to get: Kumar Sweet Shop, MDA Complex, Rajpur road, clock tower near Dehradun, Uttarakhand 248001.
Price: INR 300/400gms
This might not be the first Maharashtrian sweet that comes to your mind but that doesn’t make it any less delicious. These are basically puris fried in pure ghee and dipped in jaggery syrup-it simply can’t get any more indulgent. This sweet is also favorite in Muslim households during the time of Muharram and Ramadan.
Where to get: Karachi Sweet Mart, 124, Fortaleza Victoria I, Opposite Gold Adlabs, Kalyani Nagar, Pune, Maharashtra 411006
7. Daulat ki Chaat
Your guilty pleasure in Delhi winters, Daulat ki chaat is one of a kind dessert. It is almost impossible to wander in the streets of Old Delhi during the winter months and resist the temptation of having this. It has a rich, foamy and frothy dessert which has an almost cloud-like texture. Legend says that this sweet can only be prepared on moonlit nights since it is cooler than otherwise, it would be difficult to maintain the texture of the sweet and the moonlight was essential to see what is being made.
Where to get: streets of Old Delhi
Price: INR 20-50
Patishapta carries with itself the aroma of lazy winter afternoon of every Bengali household. It is basically a crepe made of rice flour and then it is wrapped around the filling of khoya and jaggery. It is a quintessential Bengali dessert which is mostly made by the elders of the house although now it is widely available in sweatshops as well. If you haven’t had PatiShapta yet, you’re missing out on some major culinary delight.
Where to get: New Kalpana Sweets – Shop no. No. 162/C408, Lake Gardens, Kolkata – 700045
The dessert abode of the country houses has more to offer. This unique sweet from Bengal is like that extremely difficult trek which leads to the most breath-taking view. Originating in the district of Nadia, Sharbhaja is made of the cream of milk or “shar” as it is called and Bengali and then it is deep-fried. This sweet is actually quite difficult to make and requires a significant level of expertise and patience. Get your hands on this sweet and watch it slowly become your guilty pleasure.
Where to get: Balaram Mullick & Radharaman Mullick Sweets- 22, Near United Bank of India, Park Street, Kolkata, West Bengal
10. God Papdi
Son papdi not so famous cousin, God papdi is another Gujarati delicacy. It is quite a favorite mainly because it doesn’t involve any complex ingredients and it is in fact quite simple to make as well. It is made of wheat flour, ghee, and jaggery and is often garnished with cardamom and dry fruits. This sweet is said to be Goddess Shakti’s favorite sweet and is offered as bhog on the eighth or ninth day of Navaratri. This sweet is easily available in any Gujarati sweetshop and the fact that the sweet is quite healthy ensures some guilt-free indulgence.
Where to get: Shri Mehta Chawana and Sweet Centre - Ground Floor, Shri Krishna Complex, Pushpakunj, Ahmedabad, Gujarat 380008
11. Modur Pulav
Hailing from the beautiful part of the country, this Kashmiri delicacy is one unique dessert. The dish shares a close resemblance with biryani, but it tastes, unlike anything you have tasted before. It is sweet and aromatic rice prepared with dollops of ghee and dry fruits and its look, taste and aroma will appeal to all your senses. The best aspect of this dish is while it is sweet in taste, it pairs surprisingly well with savory accompaniments as well.
Where to get: The delicacy will be available in all major eateries of Kashmiri cities.
This Indo-Portuguese dessert from Goa is a beauty. It is basically a pudding which is supposed to have seven layers. Christmas, Easter or a Goan wedding is simply incomplete without Bebinca. Making of Bebinca can be a time consuming and difficult process, but the end result is so worth it. You’re missing out on life if you have not had Bebinca with some ice cream
Where to get: Magsons Mithai Mandir- Buddaseth Appartments, Opposite Tonca, Caranzalem, Panaji, Goa 403002
There you go, ten unique Indian sweets that you must try if you want to earn the honor of being a sweet tooth. After all, while cheesecakes and crepes do look pretty on our Instagram feed, but it is Indian sweets that directly have a pathway to our hearts.
While you spend some time in planning your itinerary for a tasting tour, do check out Fabriclore.com, where you will spot flavors of various towns and cities spread across India! Shop artisanal sarees, fabrics, suits, dupattas & more and savor the taste of India’s rich tradition and culture in one place.
Authored by: Sreetama Chakraborty