Payasam To Mysore Pak: Top 10 Desserts To Relish In Tamil Nadu
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Situated in South India, Tamil Nadu is a state that is infused with a rich cultural heritage, deep-rooted values, and a culinary tradition that mirrors the hospitality, spirit, and kindness of its people. Tamil cuisine abounds in savoury classics, such as the flavourful chicken chettinad and the comforting pongal, which are both must-have dishes. However, this article will focus on the delicate desserts of Tamil Nadu. Renowned for their use of complex flavours and fragrant spices, these desserts have withstood the test of time.

Iconic Tamil desserts range from the esteemed Mysore pak to the creamy payasam to the rustic adhirasam. Not only do each of these desserts reflect the state’s vibrant cultural identity, but they also showcase the region’s diversity, as each sweet dish has been imbued with its own distinct flavours, preparation processes, ceremonial importance, and so on. Together, these desserts play a key role in enriching the culinary heritage of Tamil Nadu, crafting a medley of enticing flavours and adding depth and variety to the state’s overall cuisine.

Check out ten mouthwatering desserts hailing from Tamil Nadu.


This delightful kheer-like delicacy is beloved throughout South India. It was believed to have been devised in ancient times, as a similar dish has been referenced in Sanskrit literature. Over time, each region began crafting this creamy concoction with their own local ingredients, giving the dish distinct flavours. Rice, milk, and jaggery are combined and flavoured with cardamom to form this sweet treat, and the dish is usually garnished with nuts. Tamils traditionally make this dish on the occasion of Pongal.

Kadalai Urundai

Also known as “peanut chikki,” kadalai urundai is a type of sweet-tasting peanut brittle that blends the rustic and salty taste profiles of peanuts with the sweetness of jaggery. Typically, this dish is crafted by roasting peanuts and then dousing them in jaggery syrup. The concoction is then moulded into visually engaging sphere-like shapes. Peanut chikki is a popular festive food and it’s also cherished as a street food snack. One can find it all over Tamil Nadu in city streets and corners.

Image Credits: By Pranavathiyani G - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0/Wikimedia Commons


This deep-fried sweet treat effortlessly melds the succulence of jaggery with the smoky fragrance of sesame seeds and rice flour. The dough is flattened into discs, deep-fried, and then dipped in a jaggery syrup, giving it a glistening appearance. This dish has ancient roots too; its mentions have been recorded in ancient Tamil literature. Adhirasam is a staple during festivals, such as Diwali, as well as celebrations, including weddings and other significant events. It is also frequently used as a prasad food.

Ellu Urundai

Ellu urundai are basically small, round-shaped sesame concoctions that are popularly identified as til laddoos. They are traditionally prepared by roasting sesame seeds and combining them with jaggery; this mixture is then moulded into bite-sized balls. Regarded as an emblem of good luck and prosperity in Tamil culture, this dish is a fixture during festivals such as Pongal and Makar Sankranti. The dish also has sentimental value, as each family has its own generational recipe for these laddoos.

Image Credits: By Kangkan Goswami - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0/Wikimedia Commons

Mysore Pak

Although Mysore pak was famously invented in the majestic pantries of Mysore, Karnataka, it has become a vital part of Tamil Nadu’s food culture and is regarded as one of the most treasured desserts there. This scrumptious dessert is crafted from besan, ghee, sugar, and a tinge of cardamom. The dish emits a pillowy, melt-in-the-mouth sensation, and its texture is both flaky and fudgy. Popularly known as the “King of Desserts” in South India, this dessert is a hallmark of celebratory events and occasions.

Image Credits: By Kangkan Goswami - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0/Wikimedia Commons


Also known as “modak” in some areas, kozhukkattai is a rice-flour-based dessert that’s stuffed with a jaggery filling. Tamil Nadu variations of this dessert typically add grated coconut to the modak to lend it a diversity of flavours and textures. Being steamed, the dessert is quite healthy and several modern recipes incorporate ingredients like beetroot and turmeric into this classic dish to give it a contemporary flair. Kozhukkattai is commonly offered as a prasad to Lord Ganesha on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi.

Image Credits: By Jayashree Govindarajan - inippu kozhukkattai_4 (vinaayagar chathurthi), CC BY 2.0/Wikimedia Commons

Muscoth Halwa

Muscoth halwa is a decadent and pillowy sweet treat hailing from South Tamil Nadu. Derived from the Sinhalese word for “coconut milk,” the main ingredients of this dessert are milk and sugar, which are cooked together in coconut oil. The resulting dish is a decadent melt-in-the-mouth specialty that’s simultaneously airy and indulgent. This dessert is also savoured in Sri Lanka, where it’s a culinary staple.


This traditional Tamil sweet treat is a staple during local Diwali and Pongal celebrations. Made with chana dal, this sweet treat incorporates ingredients such as coconut, jaggery, cardamom, ghee, rice and rice flour. Some recipes also incorporate idli flour to make the dish fluffier. The concoction is moulded into small balls, deep-fried, and savoured.

Thaen Mittai

One of Tamil Nadu’s most beloved snacks, thaen mittai, is also known as “honey sugar candy” or “honey candy.” Traditionally, the dish is crafted from refined wheat flour and curd, which are moulded into a dough; the dough is fermented for a few hours, after which it is rolled into small balls and deep-fried. Characterised by its vibrant colour, this dish is a favourite among schoolchildren.

Srivilliputhur Palkova

Invented in the Srivilliputhur town of Tamil Nadu, Srivilliputhur palkova is a delectable and creamy sweet dish that is primarily prepared from milk. Preparation involves gently simmering milk over a low flame for a few hours until it assumes a dense and solid form. Sugar is also incorporated into the recipe to give it a sweet taste. The dish can further be flavoured with ingredients, such as cardamom and nuts like cashews, to enhance its flavour and texture.