Even though gulab jamuns, rasgullas, and kaju katlis are very popular in India, there are a lot of unusual desserts that are not known to many people. From pootharekulu from Andhra Pradesh to shor bhaja from Bengal read about these lesser-known Indian desserts, each with a unique flavour, texture, and richness.
In India, it is impossible to complete a meal without any sweet treat. People here can always find room for this last course to cap off the meal nicely, regardless of how full they are! Although it may be considered an indulgent habit, having a good round of sweets after a meal is more of a tradition.
Indians love experimenting with desserts as much as they do with other foods. They frequently combine unusual ingredients and culinary techniques that will surprise people. These unique Indian delicacies are available throughout the nation and showcase a wide variety of intriguing flavours. They ought to be at the top of the culinary wishlist.
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1. Pootharekulu From Atreyapuram, Andhra Pradesh
Ever heard that an entire cottage business is dedicated to rolled paper sweets? This is the intriguing tale of pootharekulu, created in a small Andhra Pradesh hamlet over three centuries ago. Over 400 women in Atreyapuram make a living from this treat made of rice wafers and cane sugar. This sweet is prepared by grinding rice into a thin batter and then brushing it over an upside-down clay pot. This sheet-like wrapper simply crumbles in layers and melts inside the mouth. Just like salad rolls drizzled with copious amounts of ghee, dry fruit, and jaggery, the mixture is stuffed in rice paper and then made into rolls. The result is a crispy, incredibly tasty, rich dish with a hint of cardamom that lingers in the mouth.
2. Patoleo From Goa
Traditionally, this dessert is made as an offering for a bountiful crop season during the Assumption of Mary feast. When people get their first look at patoleo they might have some doubts because it is wrapped in turmeric leaves. But as soon as people bite into the dough coating, they will realise that this is a steamed rice dumpling with the comforting aromas of jaggery and grated coconuts. This will swiftly dispel any doubts. Nonetheless, the method is quite common and is also used in other states with different names. For example, in Karnataka, it is known as haldi panna pathali, and in West Bengal, as pitha.
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3. Chenna Poda From Odisha
Indian people never shy away from paneer. Chhena Poda is different from other Indian sweet desserts as it has a texture just like cheesecake and a golden brown crust. The sweet is bursting with flavours, making people wonder what it is made of. The cottage cheese is bound with semolina and then caramelised and baked in a preheated oven. Finally, it is generously sprinkled with crushed pistachios or any other nuts. Underlying the creamy texture is a distinctive smokey note that was presumably prominent during the slow cooking process of the chhena in firewood ovens, as traditionally done. There are similar types of sweets available In West Bengal, made from cottage cheese known as bhapa sandesh. But in this case, the sweet is just baked.
4. Parwal Ki Mithai From Bihar
Who would have guessed that the pointed gourd, a least popular vegetable among people, could be made into a dessert? The combination of nuts and mawa or khoya made by evaporating milk solids inside sugar-dipped parwal can completely erase any negative feelings towards the veggie. The mawa is roasted until it becomes pink to get the perfect blend of sweet and salty. Then, it is garnished with almond flakes, cardamom, and pistachios. This dessert can also be considered a healthy choice, so people can feel better about overindulging in sweets over the holiday season.
Also Read: 7 Indian Sweet Dishes To Make With Sattu
5. Madhurjan Thongba From Manipur
Madhurjan thongba, which is essentially deep-fried dumplings eaten with sweetened milk, is a speciality of the northeast Indian state of Manipur. It is also known as Chhangban leh kurtai in Mizoram but has a different shape. This is prepared with fresh coconut, bay leaves, and cinnamon sticks, all combined to offer an unforgettable memory. It will be best to deep-fry the besan (gram flour) dough balls in refined oil until they acquire an appealing bronze hue. When it's finished, crush some black cardamom on top. It is easy to make and does not take much time. Among the many other minimal maintenance delicacies that are available as fascinating alternatives for the traditional Madhurjan thongba is rasgulla.
6. Maa Vilakku From Tamil Nadu
The maa vilakku is an innovative dessert from Tamil Nadu. It is generally offered to deities during festive or special occasions. It is prepared with rice flour and shaped into the form of a lamp (diya). Then, it is ignited by pouring ghee into the centre. It is made with a soft, silky dough made of rice flour and jaggery, which gives it a nice flavour. The sweet also has a nice aroma that comes from the cardamom powder.
7. Shor Baja From West Bengal
Everyone knows how fond Bengalis are of sweets. Bengali words "Shor" or "Shaur" denote cream or malai, while "Bhaaja" denotes fried. Condensed milk is cooked by frying it until it gets golden brown. The Shor Bhaja, was originated in Krishna Nagar in the Nadia district of West Bengal. It is arguably one of the hardest desserts to create because it is important to carefully layer the milk till it cooks while keeping an eye that it doesn't burn. It's a crisp sweet that tastes incredibly delicate and toasty.
8. Awan Bangwi From Assam
This sweet is only available in Tripura. Awan Bangwi is a cone-shaped delicacy. It is prepared with sticky rice, cashews, raisins, and almonds. A huge amount of ghee is also used so that the cone sticks together. After that, this mixture is placed within banana leaf cones and steam-cooked.
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9. Purnum Burelu From Andhra Pradesh
Boorelu Poornam is a classic Andhra dessert. Boorelu looks like fried dumplings. It is prepared with balls of black gram, and amazing flavours of jaggery, butter, and coconut. They are then coated with dosa batter and deep-fried until crisp.
10. Gokak Karadantu From Karnataka
The Kannada word karadantu means "fried edible gum". The dessert is exclusively available in the Gokak region of Karnataka. The sweet is filled with mouthwatering flavours of dried fruits such as nutmeg, raisins, cashew nuts, copra, peanuts, and nutmeg. This treat is cooked in ghee and edible gum, which gives it its distinct taste.
People living in cities could only get a taste of mainstream barfis with waraq (silver filigree), laddos, or rasgullas. But there are many unique sweets that are available in different parts of the country. But most of the time, people get these sweets locally. So, whenever travelling to these places, try to sample these locally-made desserts and indulge in their mouthwatering flavours.