This Trio Of Sweets Define The Legacy Of Rustic Punjab
Image Credit: A beloved winter snack from Punjab, pinni is made using wheat flour, sugar, jaggery, nuts and ghee.

Besides dishes like makke ki roti and sarson ka saag, Punjab is known for its sweets that use generous amounts of ghee. Three of the state's most popular sweets are pinni, panjiri and atte ka halwa. Each of these has a distinct taste and story behind it; the last two even have religious significance. Here are some facts about the three quintessentially Punjabi sweets: 


A beloved winter snack from Punjab, pinni is made using wheat flour, sugar, jaggery, nuts and ghee. Some recipes also use semolina. During World War I, Indian soldiers were given the sweet by a London-based committee to boost their morale. The committee ordered two batches of pinnis from India, along with other objects that have religious importance within Sikhism. However, the cost of the ingredients for pinni was very high and the practice had to be discontinued. It was suggested that an Indian chef be brought to France to prepare the treat. There were also attempts on the committee’s part to make kheer for the soldiers to provide them with a taste of home. But the dish never turned out as good as it was in India, and this idea was done away with as well. 

It became the case that Indian soldiers had to make do with eating English sweets while fighting the war. While English sweets were palatable, they were not as nourishing as pinni. Years later, pinni is now a fixture in Punjabi households. 


The word ‘panjiri’ has been derived from the Sanskrit words ‘panch’, which means five, and ‘jiraka’, which translates to cumin. The sweet dish is made by roasting wheat flour in ghee and adding cumin, coriander, saunth and dried fruits. It is a powdered sweet that is a result of the ghee being absorbed into the flour, and also uses gondh or powdered edible gum crystals. The dish is often eaten by women after they have given birth as it is believed to promote healing, or as a winter snack to keep the cold at bay. Panjiri is known for being an energy and immunity booster. Often, panjiri is prepared during Janmashtami as an offering for Lord Krishna and is eaten along with a drink called ‘charnamrit’, which uses yogurt, coconut, powdered sugar and chironji. Charnamrit prevents panjiri from sticking in the mouth. 

Atte ka halwa

Atte ka halwa is most commonly offered as kada prasad at gurudwaras. Velvety and rich it is made with whole wheat flour, sugar and ghee. The recipe for kada prasad uses atta, sugar, ghee and water in the ratio of 1:1:1:1. The ratio is meant to symbolise that men and women are equal. Devotees at gurudwaras cup their hands to receive kada prasad as a blessing. It is considered a sign of respect to accept the prasad and refusing it is considered an insult by some Sikhs. The offering and receiving of this sweet signifies community service and hospitality, both virtues that Sikhs hold very dear. Sewadars serve equal quantities of it to everyone out of the same large bowl. 

How many of these sweets have you tried? Do let us know.