22 Mouth-Watering Indian Sweets and Desserts You Must Try Atleast Once

India, the destination that never ceases to amaze you with its varied culture, ancient structures and incredible architecture, beckons you to experience something more — mouth-watering, delectable cuisine indigenous to various regions.

It is no secret that Indians have a sweet tooth and they have an inexhaustible supply of sweet dishes, which they place before their guests. The fact is that many people come to India just to go on a foodie tour, to explore the various food destinations and to enjoy the scrumptious cooking style of different regions.

This list below contains goodies from different parts of India spanning different cultures and different religions. Get ready for a ravishing and intriguing cuisine ride.

Bon Appétit !

Festive Favorites

In India, sweets form a major part of celebrations. Some of those that are mentioned below are made for occasions like Ganesh Chathurthi, Diwali and more.

  1. Gulab Jamun

Milk powder balls are fried in oil until they are golden brown and served with vanilla ice cream. This is a must during festivals of India, especially in the north. In the past, gulab jamun was made with khoya, but now you find that people skip the khoya and make gulab jamun with milk powder.

Of course, milk powder doesn’t reduce the taste of gulab jamun in any way, but seriously, khoya does have a special charm of its own. In case, you are wondering what khoya is, it is an ingredient with which you can make several other sweet dishes.

Gulab Jamun is also known as the Indian donut, minus the hole. These dumplings when flavored with sugar syrup triggers a sense of taste in your palette that is akin to divine.

Chefs dip the prepared gulab jamuns in sugar syrup until they are ready to be consumed. Gulab Jamun is brownish in color, and can be enjoyed warm or cold, depending on how you like it.

To make khoya, you need condensed milk, milk powder, yoghurt, cardamom powder. Mix and stir all the ingredients one by one, and add the cardamom powder and milk powder last, till it becomes devoid of water and almost dry.

Place of origin: It is a constant accompaniment in functions and parties in North India mainly Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand.

2. Kulfi

Image by Kalaiselvi Murugesan via Wikimedia

Kulfi, the Indian ice cream is a rage amongst youngsters. It is made from whole fat milk, powdered sugar, cardamom powder and comes in tantalizing flavors like strawberry, mango and kesar and embellished with raisins and almond.

Kulfi is dense and creamy, comes with popsicle sticks or in terracotta pots. It is very easy to make and is usually made in homes during events and festivals.

Place of origin: India during the Mughal period

3. Rasgulla or Paneer Balls

Rasgulla is a Bengali delicacy, but very popular everywhere in India. People understand it better when they refer to it as sweet paneer balls or cheese balls in sugar syrup. The best thing about rasgulla is that it is healthier than other Indian snacks as you don’t have to fry it in oil or use too much of ghee.

As rasgulla can be prepared before hand and chilled, they are usually taken only when guests arrive and the festivities begin. Rasgulla should be consumed within 3 days of preparation, as it is a dairy product, and hence, could get spoiled faster.

Place of origin: Orissa, West Bengal

4. Coconut Barfi

Image by Afsana Samad via Flickr

Soft and juicy, coconut barfi is a tasty snack enjoyed by people who are crazy about coconuts. Barfi can be made from various ingredients, but coconut barfi beats them all.

You will find this delicacy making its presence known in all Indian festivals, especially Karwa Chauth and Diwali. The best thing about barfi, is that you need only three ingredients to make this — coconut, condensed milk and sugar.

Place of origin: South India

5. Oats Dry Fruits Ladoo

Image by Rajdeep Das via Wikimedia

A healthy and sweet snack, you will find its taste irresistible. Oats Dry Fruits Ladoo is fat-free and gluten-free and served mainly during Diwali. It is also considered healthy because it doesn’t require plenty of sugar, ghee or oil during preparation. Instead, you can savor dry fruits like dates, nuts, fig, even sesame seeds and flax seeds.

Place of origin: India

6. Mango Sago

Image by NukelarBurrito via Flickr

Mango Sago or Mango pudding is a typical Indian snack that you will find in most of the festivals in North India. It is mildly sweet and tempting when you get lovely, ripened mangoes.

If you are wondering what sago is, it is granular starch obtained from palm trees. This is something everyone can have, even complete vegetarians as it is made from milk, condensed milk, sugar, mango and sago. When garnished with mangoes, this is an absolute delight.

Place of origin: India

7. Milk Peda

Image by Prashant Sahu via Wikimedia

The milk peda is a favorite, and you will find various versions of this sweet in different parts of the country. The peda is usually made with paneer or khoya, condensed milk, milk powder, chopped pistachio, cardamom powder, saffron and ghee. Peda is usually offered after lunch/dinner. Milk peda is a must for Diwali.

Place of origin: Different variants available in India

8. Lachha Seviyan

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This is a typical dish made of vermicelli and dry fruits, prepared in a Muslim household. The main ingredients used are vermicelli, sugar, cashewnuts, almonds, raisins, saffron, green cardamom, milk and butter. The vermicelli is cooked in milk, with dry fruits added into it. Lachha Seviyan is a dish prepared during Eid celebrations.

Place of origin: Punjab

9. Phirni

Image by Michelle Peters — Jones via Flickr

Phirni is a tasty dish prepared on the occasion of Eid and Ramzaan. It is another variety of the typical Indian milk pudding and is served in mud pots. You need rice flour, milk, pistachio, cardamom powder and sugar to prepare this lovely dessert.

Place of origin: North India, during the Mughal period

10. Shrikand

Image by secretlondon123 via Flickr

Shrikand is also known as Green Yogurt and is very popular in Maharashtra and Gujarat. This sweet dish is made of strained yogurt, sugar, saffron and cardamom. The creamy, velvety dessert, fondly remembered as ‘ambrosia of the gods’ is a favorite among visitors.

Place of origin: Gujarat and Maharashtra

11. Gajar ka Halwa

Image by Prerna Jaddwani via Wikimedia

Though enjoyed by all, Gajar (carrot) ka Halwa is a mouth-watering preparation that is invariably found in every Muslim home during Ramzaan and Eid celebrations. North Indian red carrots render a particular taste to this sweet dish.

Halwa is made from a variety of ingredients — pineapple, badam, watermelon, papaya raw banana, beetroot, pumpkin, all depending on the chef’s whim.

The most curious fact about halwa is that it will have to stay on the stovetop in tempered heat for a number of hours, while the chef stirs and fusses about with it until the ingredients get thoroughly mixed.

A small serving of this sweet dish will do no justice to your craving palette as it will keep asking for more, and until you forget counting the calories!

Place of origin: Though originated in India and Pakistan, the sweet is now mainly found in North India mainly Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand.

12. Ras Malai

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Ras Malai is the distant cousin of rasgulla and is prepared in a slightly different way. If you love the look of cheese balls soaked in luscious soapy milk, flavored with cardamom, then you will definitely fall in love with this sweet.

Ras Malai’s taste is best enjoyed when it is chilled. Ras Malai will strike an arrow straight to your heart, and before long, you will be back for more.

Place of origin: West Bengal

13. Rabri

Image by Ravi Talwar via Flickr

Rabri is a rich, creamy dessert made from milk, sugar, nuts and spices. Rabri is also as adamant as the halwa when it comes to cooking. The chef will have to be vigilant while stirring the ingredients together until they achieve the desired consistency.

The dessert is enjoyed hot or cold, depending on the person consuming it. It is preferred by people who love bits of cream pieces in their drink. Some people add in mango puree for that irresistible mango flavor. Rabri can be consumed as it is or with malpua or jalebis.

Place of origin: North India, mainly Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand

14. Sandesh

Image by Garrett Ziegler via Flickr

Curdled milk is indeed an incredible ingredient for a number of mouth-watering recipes. Sandesh is made from freshly crumbled paneer, powdered sugar and cardamom. Just three ingredients and this Bengali recipe will have many ardent followers.

If you want some embellishments, you can add pistachios or cashewnuts. The taste of Sandesh is best enjoyed when it is made from full fat cow’s milk.

Place of origin: West Bengal

15. Purnam Burelu

The luscious concoction of dal and jaggery leads to this stunningly pure Andhra delicacy. Normally, bengal gram and black gram are used to make this dish and it is usually served during Vinayaka Chathurthi, Dussehra and Sankranti. These dumplings are enhanced further with butter and coconut in certain recipes. It is also a main sweet offered to God during pooja.

Place of origin: Andhra Pradesh

16. Ada Pradhaman

Image by Marvelous Kerala via Flickr

If you are heading to Kerala, then you will inevitably be treated to payasam, another form of the kheer, but in a more diluted form. The people of Kerala amaze you with their different varieties of payasams made during occasions like Vishu and Onam.

However, you will also find this delectable drink placed in your hands, during events like birthdays and weddings as well.

Place of origin: Kerala

All Time Edible Delights

If you have guests coming for tea, then you can prepare these sweets quite easily. Children would also love them!

17. Thinnai Sarkkara Pongal

Image by pangalactic gargleblaster and the heart of gold via Flickr

This is a sweet dish that you can have as a dessert and its roots come from South India. It is made from yellow moong dal, thinnai millet (Foxtail millet), jaggery, cashewnuts, crushed green cardamom, raisins and cloves.

This is not particularly made for any functions, but you may get this as a treat if you visit any South Indian home. You can even have this as an evening snack.

Place of origin: South India, mainly Tamil Nadu

18. Mysore Pak

Image by Charles Haynes via Flickr

Mysore pak is a very popular South Indian sweet made with gram flour, dry fruits, pure Indian ghee, sugar and cardamom. The taste is so heavenly that it will make your taste buds go crazy.

When made with a generous amount of pure ghee, mysore pak would melt in your tongue, making it absolutely irresistible. This divine sweet is a ‘must have’ on your visit to India.

Place of origin: Mysore

19. Coconut Rice Pudding

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Coconut has always been a fascination for visitors. Any sweet dish made with coconut is, thus, a rage among them. Coconut rice pudding is sweetness personified and made with coconut milk, cooked rice, skimmed milk, vanilla extract, ground cinnamon.

If you are visiting relatives/friends in Kerala, you can ask them to make this for you, and they will be thrilled. You can have it chilled or warm.

Place of origin: South India, as different varieties of rice are popular here

20. Jalebis

Jalebi is no stranger to a visitor (to India), but it still deserves a mention here because it is one of the most popular sweets prepared in various colors in different parts of the country. It is made from rice flour, all purpose flour, baking powder, curd, permitted food color, vegetable oil, sugar and water.

Place of origin: Different variants of Jalebis are found everywhere in India

Sweet Drinks

21. Mango Falooda

Image by KartikMistry via Flickr

A drink of mango falooda will let your taste buds go crazy with craving, because it is the perfect drink to have when you love mangoes and ice creams. Mango Falooda is made from falooda sev, basil seeds or sabja seeds, mango puree, vanilla or mango ice cream depending on your choice, custard powder, sugar, and creamy milk.

Garnish this drink with dry fruits to enhance the taste even further. The taste of mango and creamy milk with the soft rustle of sev makes it absolutely divine.

Place of origin: North India, mainly Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand where it is served as a royal dish.

22. Coconut Milk Shake

Image by Paul Istoan via Flickr

A rejuvenating glass of coconut milk shake on a tropical evening is the best way to beat the heat. It is made with coconut milk, banana and vanilla ice cream and can be whipped up within a matter of minutes.

Place of origin: Tropical areas of the country

Conclusion

Once you visit the different destinations in India, and taste the sweets and desserts and return home, you will be rewarded with an ache that would make you crave for more. Indians painstakingly, but lovingly, prepare their sweet dishes to delight their guests, and they never get tired of it and so do the people who devour them.