Patoleo, Sel Roti: 10 Lesser-Known Indian Desserts
Image Credit: Kumbilappam from Kerala. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

India is home to a plethora of mouth-watering desserts, while some of these sweet treats have gained immense popularity and are enjoyed by people across the globe, there are several lesser-known desserts that remain hidden gems, waiting to be discovered. 

These rare Indian desserts showcase the diverse and lesser-explored facets of India's culinary heritage. Each of these sweets has a unique story to tell, and they deserve to be rediscovered and enjoyed by a wider audience. These hidden gems not only satisfy your sweet tooth but also enable you to appreciate the diverse and vibrant flavours of India's dessert-scape.

Let's take a look at some of these delectable delights.

1. Awan Bangwi - Tripura

Awan Bangwi is a traditional dessert from the northeastern state of Tripura. This unique sweet dish is made from sticky rice, cashew nuts, raisins, and grated coconut, which are mixed together and then steamed in a conical bamboo shoot. The result is a dense, aromatic dessert with a subtle sweetness that is enjoyed during special occasions and festivals in Tripura.

2. Gulgule - Uttarakhand

Gulgule is a lesser-known dessert from the mountainous state of Uttarakhand. These sweet fritters are made from a batter of whole wheat flour, jaggery, and fennel seeds, which is then deep-fried until golden brown. Gulgule is typically enjoyed as a tea-time snack or as a dessert during festive occasions in the region.

3. Kumbilappam - Kerala

Kumbilappam, also known as Chakka Kumbilappam, is a traditional dessert from Kerala that is made using ripe jackfruit. The jackfruit pulp is mixed with rice flour, jaggery, and grated coconut, and then wrapped in fragrant bay leaves before being steamed. This sweet dish has a unique, aromatic flavour and is enjoyed during the jackfruit season in Kerala.

4. Mawa Bati - Madhya Pradesh

Mawa Bati is a dessert from the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. This sweet dish is made from mawa (reduced milk), refined flour, and sugar, which are combined to form a dough. The dough is then shaped into small balls, deep-fried, and soaked in sugar syrup. Mawa Bati is a rich, indulgent dessert that is enjoyed during special occasions and festivals in the region.

5. Sel Roti - Sikkim

Sel Roti is a traditional dessert from the northeastern state of Sikkim. This sweet, ring-shaped bread is made from a fermented batter of rice flour, sugar, and milk, which is then deep-fried until crispy and golden brown. Sel Roti is typically enjoyed during festive occasions, such as Tihar and Dashain, in Sikkim and neighbouring regions including Nepal.

6. Thekua - Jharkhand

Thekua, also known as Khajur, is a hidden gem from the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand. This sweet, biscuit-like snack is made from a dough of whole wheat flour, jaggery, and ghee, which is then shaped into decorative patterns using a mould or by hand. The dough is then deep-fried or baked until crisp. Thekua is enjoyed during the Chhath Puja festival in Jharkhand and neighbouring regions.

7. Lehsun ki Kheer - Rajasthan

Rajasthan, a state known for its arid climate and robust cuisine, is home to a unique dessert called Lehsun ki Kheer. This unusual dish is made from garlic, a key ingredient in Rajasthani cuisine. Garlic cloves are boiled to remove their pungency and then cooked with milk, sugar, and a blend of spices. The kheer is then garnished with chopped nuts and served chilled. This intriguing dessert is a testament to the innovative spirit of Rajasthani cooks.

8. Kharwas - Maharashtra

Kharwas, also known as Junnu in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, is an unsung hero in the dessert world, made from the first milk of a cow or buffalo after giving birth, called colostrum. This milk is rich in nutrients and has a unique, custard-like texture. Kharwas is prepared by mixing colostrum with regular milk, sugar, and a pinch of cardamom or nutmeg. The mixture is then steamed or baked until it sets into a soft, velvety pudding. This nutritious dessert is a true hidden gem of Indian cuisine.

9. Malaiyo - Uttar Pradesh

Malaiyo is another unrecognised dessert hailing from the bustling city of Lucknow in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. This delightful sweet treat might surprise your taste buds with its creamy milk foam, infused with the subtle flavours of saffron, cardamom, and rose water. Adorned with a generous sprinkling of finely chopped nuts, Malaiyo offers a unique and satisfying dessert experience.

10. Patoleo - Goa

This is a traditional sweet dish from Goa made with rice, coconut, jaggery, and cinnamon. The sweet filling is wrapped in a turmeric leaf and steamed until cooked. Patoleo is a healthy and delicious sweet dish that is rich in nutrients and flavour. It is often made during festivals and special occasions and symbolises good luck and prosperity in Goa.