Naru To Khaja: 8 Lesser-Known Indian Sweets Worth Trying
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Embark on a delectable journey into the lesser-explored realms of Indian sweets, where culinary treasures await beyond the familiar terrain of Gulab Jamun and Jalebi. In this dessert discovery, we unravel the secrets of eight lesser-known Indian sweets, each a testament to the diverse and rich tapestry of India's culinary heritage.

From the inventive Khoya Stuffed Peda with a Twist to the regal layers of Ghevar from Rajasthan, these lesser-known gems offer a unique perspective on the artistry and creativity embedded in Indian sweet-making traditions. Join us as we delve into the lesser-explored corners of India's sweet offerings, savouring the unique flavours, textures, and cultural stories that make each dessert a hidden delight waiting to be uncovered.

1. Naru: A Sweet Homage to Patra Ni Machhi

Inspired by the Parsi delicacy Patra Ni Machhi, Naru is a lesser-known gem that deserves a spot on every dessert enthusiast's radar. These sweet coconut and jaggery balls pay homage to the original fish preparation by substituting fish with grated coconut. The combination of coconut, jaggery, and a hint of cardamom creates a delectable treat, offering a unique fusion of flavours that captivates the palate.

 2. Khar: Khoya Stuffed Peda with a Twist

Step into the world of inventive Indian sweets with Khar, a khoya-stuffed peda that adds a twist to the traditional fare. The outer layer, made of khoya (reduced milk) and flavoured with cardamom, conceals a surprise filling of dry fruits and nuts. This unexpected burst of textures and flavours elevates the humble peda to a delightful dessert adventure, showcasing the creativity inherent in Indian sweet-making.

 3. Patra: A Rolled Delight from Gujarat

Hailing from Gujarat, patra is a lesser-known rolled sweet that boasts a unique blend of flavours and textures. Gram flour, spiced with green chilies, ginger, and tamarind, is spread on colocasia leaves, rolled, and steamed. Once cooled, it is sliced into rounds and tempered with mustard seeds, sesame seeds, and curry leaves. The result is a savoury-sweet delight that marries the earthy taste of colocasia with the zing of spices.

 4. Chana Dal Payasam: A South Indian Comfort

Venture into South India with chana dal payasam, a comforting dessert that deviates from the familiar rice-based payasam. Here, chana dal (split chickpeas) takes the spotlight, cooked in coconut milk and sweetened with jaggery. Infused with the warmth of cardamom and garnished with coconut slivers and cashews, this payasam offers a delightful departure from the ordinary, presenting a richer and heartier alternative.

 5. Dharwad Pedha: A Karnataka Classic

Hailing from the city of Dharwad in Karnataka, Dharwad Pedha is a lesser-known gem with a history dating back over 175 years. These delectable, semi-soft milk sweets are made with khoa (reduced milk), sugar, and laced with cardamom. The unique preparation involves a labour-intensive hand-churning process, resulting in a velvety texture and a distinct caramelised flavour. Dharwad Pedha stands as a testament to the artisanal craftsmanship embedded in Indian sweet-making traditions.

 6. Ghevar: A Royal Treat from Rajasthan

Transport your taste buds to the royal kitchens of Rajasthan with Ghevar, a unique and lesser-known sweet typically associated with festivals like Teej and Raksha Bandhan. This disc-shaped dessert is made by deep-frying a batter of flour and milk to achieve a porous and crispy texture. It is then soaked in sugar syrup and garnished with slivered almonds and pistachios. Ghevar's intricate preparation and regal appearance make it a delightful and less-explored gem in the realm of Indian sweets.

 7. Khaja: Layered Crispiness from Odisha

Khaja, originating from the eastern state of Odisha, is a layered and crispy sweet that showcases the culinary expertise of the region. The delicate layers are achieved by alternating sheets of wheat dough and ghee, resulting in a flaky texture. Khaja is then deep-fried to golden perfection and dunked in sugar syrup, creating a harmonious blend of sweetness and crunchiness. This lesser-known delight offers a delightful departure from more commonly recognised Indian sweets.

 8. Thaen Mittai: Sweet Memories of Tamil Nadu

Thaen Mittai, translating to "Honey Candy," is a traditional sweet from Tamil Nadu that often flies under the radar. These golden-hued, bite-sized delights are made by blending rice flour, jaggery, and cardamom, creating a dough that is then shaped into small cylinders. The unique flavour profile, reminiscent of honey, is derived from the combination of jaggery and cardamom. Thaen Mittai captures the essence of Tamil Nadu's sweet culinary traditions, providing a lesser-known but equally delicious option.

India's dessert repertoire is a treasure trove of lesser-known delights waiting to be uncovered. From the savoury notes of Patra to the layered crispiness of Khaja, each sweet tells a story of regional flavours, culinary ingenuity, and cultural richness. As you embark on this dessert discovery journey, may these lesser-known Indian sweets add a touch of novelty and excitement to your culinary explorations, proving that the realm of Indian desserts is as diverse and delightful as the country itself.