Lohri 2024: 8 Dairy-Free Desserts, From Chana Halwa To Gajak

Lohri is almost here and if you’re hosting a feast, you might consider some dairy-free options as well! Lohri is a sort of thanksgiving festival which pays homage to the sun god Surya and the fire god Agni and pays homage to the new harvest. Naturally, grains and seasonal ingredients like til, jaggery, rice, and sugarcane are prioritised and are used to make festive preparations during this festival. You can easily switch up some ingredients if you want to give classic mithai a dairy-free makeover.

The trick is to pick recipes which don’t use more than a couple of dairy products. If your dessert has coconut or nuts, you can easily use coconut cream or almond milk instead of whole milk or dairy cream. If you’re making a gur-based dessert, you can opt for cashew butter or peanut butter to enhance its natural smokiness. Here are some clever dairy-free mithai ideas you can try on Lohri


Gajak, one of the most popular desserts consumed on Lohri is naturally dairy-free! It’s made from sesame seeds, jaggery, and sometimes peanuts. The combination of crunchy sesame seeds and the rich sweetness of jaggery gives this number a balanced taste that’s also quite repeatable. Gajak is also gluten-free since it doesn’t really use any flour. 

Rewri, another festive sweet that’s consumed with Gajak is also made from sesame seeds and jaggery and is dairy-free as well. Rewri is usually formed into discs or rounds, giving it a unique shape and texture. So you can easily pair them both if you’re planning dairy-free dessert alternatives for your Lohri spread.

Kaju Katli

If you're a fan of nuts, you can't go wrong with Kaju Katli. For the dairy-free version of the popular Indian sweet, you can replace the traditional condensed milk with cashew nut paste, sugar, and a touch of cardamom. Barfi is typically made by thickening milk with sugar and other ingredients; however, for this recipe, you can skip the milk altogether and add a hint of cashew butter. The rich, fudgy sweet will melt in your mouth!

Coconut Laddoo

For a refreshing twist, consider coconut Ladoo. These bite-sized sweet treats can be made with desiccated coconut and sugar. The coconut lends a tropical flavour to the Ladoo and you can also experiment with adding chopped nuts for an extra crunch. You can also explore besan Ladoo which is quick to prepare. It’s made from roasted gram flour, sugar, and nuts. It has a crumbly texture and though it typically uses ghee for binding, you can swap it with unsalted nut butter or a hint of oil.

Chana Dal Halwa

This rich, velvety halwa is made from split chickpeas and sugar, and it uses ghee alternatives such as coconut oil. You can also use vegan butter if you want. The slow cooking process gives it a luscious texture, and the addition of cardamom and saffron infuses it with an elevated aroma.

Shengdana Chikki

These peanut jaggery bars are a classic Lohri treat and resemble a sticky peanut brittle. This dairy-free brittle is easy to prepare and mainly needs two ingredients, gur and nuts. They’re quite easy to store as well so you can prepare them in large batches if you want. 

Saffron Infused Coconut Barfi:

Saffron could be the key to perfecting dairy-free desserts; their mild floral notes add to the richness of a dessert’s profile. Elevate the humble coconut barfi by infusing it with saffron strands. Coconut barfis typically contain condensed milk and mawa or khoya; but the dairy-free version has coconut, saffron, and jaggery. Coconut cream or coconut milk is the best alternative to a dairy-based binder in this recipe. 

Murmura Ladoo

For a light and crunchy treat, try making Murmura Ladoo. Bind together puffed rice with melted jaggery and shape them into small balls. These airy and sweet laddoos are perfect for snacking during the Lohri festivities.

Figs and Almond Phirni

Give the traditional phirni a dairy-free makeover by using almond milk and ground almonds. Add chopped dried figs for a sweet and chewy texture and garnish with slivered almonds!