Bucket List Series: Decoding Indian Desserts

Bucket List Series: Decoding Indian Desserts
Bebinca is often labelled as the queen of Goan desserts, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Indian desserts that are worth travelling for

Roshni Subramanian
October 23 , 2020
14 Min Read

Sugar, spice and everything nice. This is what has defined the Indian cuisine for the longest time. An integral part of Indian celebrations, desserts are much more than a post-dinner ritual here. Our tryst with these sweet treats date back hundreds of years. The origins of some of these sweets is a debatable issue. While some sources claim that it was the Mughal emperors who brought it all the way from Persia, others believe that most recipes are merely an accidental concoction. 

A complete indulgence for the soul, the ghee laden decadent sweets are a match made in heaven. From rabri faluda in the north to paal payasam in the south and from roshogolla and pantua in the east to poori aamras in the west, our love for sweets knows no boundaries and has transcended borders over the years. 

You might have tried a variety of desi mithais that are beloved for their rich flavours but these unique desserts from different corners of the country will surely redefine your bucket list goals. So pack your bags, work up your appetite and go bingeing!

Qubani ka Meetha, Andhra Pradesh

 
 
 
View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Sidharth Bhan Gupta (@travelfoodinsta) on Jul 16, 2016 at 7:47am PDT

Belonging to the land of nizams, qubani ka meetha immediately transports you to the grandeur of Hyderabadi heritage. Qubani is the Urdu word for apricots. This traditional dessert oozes Hyderabadi royalty. Dried qubani or apricot is soaked in sugar syrup, and served with thick custard, topped with almonds. Giving you an immediate sugar rush, qubani ka meetha is a regular at Hyderabadi weddings. A pro tip would be to opt for Kashmiri or Afghani qubani as they tend to be sweeter than the regular ones.

Khapse, Arunachal Pradesh

 
 
 
View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Food Explorer Nepal (@foodexplorernepal) on Aug 9, 2016 at 7:27am PDT

A deep fried pastry or biscuit, Khapse is a typical festive preparation. Massive quantities of these golden cookies are prepared during the Losar festival. Often enjoyed with Tibetan butter tea, these biscuits are moulded into eight - shaped rolls and fried till golden and crispy. They also make for a crunchy treat during occasions like weddings and new years’. 

Thekua, Bihar

 
 
 
View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Sujeeta Raman (@amazing_food_safari) on Sep 29, 2019 at 12:30am PDT

A classic sweet dish from Bihar, thekua has today made it all the way to Uttar Pradesh and Nepal. Prepared during the auspicious occasion of chhath puja, thekua is an integral part of the preparations during the 4-day long festivities. Made with wheat flour, sugar syrup and a generous amount of ghee, this dessert is full of desi flavours. 

Bebinca, Goa

 
 
 
View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Sunny Side Up (@sunnysideup._) on Sep 27, 2019 at 8:29am PDT

The minute someone says Goa, the only images that form in our head is of the sand, sun and surf. Goan cuisine often takes a backseat. If you’re someone who’s had a similar perception then we’d like to pop your bubble and introduce you to the wonderful world of Goan desserts. With a confluence of various cultures, the coastal state's cuisine boasts of some unique sweetmeats, bebinca being one of them. Often labelled as the queen of Goan desserts, the four main ingredients in it are eggs, flour, coconut milk, sugar and maybe a dash of nutmeg. A distinctive traditional dessert, for many Goan communities, Christmas is often incomplete without bebinca.

Shrikhand, Gujarat

 
 
 
View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Richa(earlier amchi.foodie) (@savorytales) on Apr 5, 2019 at 8:56pm PDT

What lassi is to north and mishti doi is to east, is exactly what shrikhand is to west. A popular dessert in Gujarat and Maharashtra, shrikhand is made out of hung curd. Creamy crunchy and flavourful, one can never have too much of Shrikhand. While Maharashtrians enjoy it as a dessert, Gujaratis serve it alongside pooris. 

Shufta, Jammu and Kashmir

 
 
 
View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Neha Mathur (@whiskaffair) on Sep 18, 2014 at 11:15pm PDT

From the aromatic rogan josh to the comforting rajma chawal, Jammu and Kashmir has a plethora of food options to offer. But when it comes to desserts, the search somehow inevitably ends on phirni. But ours brought us to shufta, an extremely flavourful Kashmiri delicacy. Made out of a variety of dry fruits that are first soaked in water and then mixed with ghee, fried paneer, sugar and a number of spices, it is the ultimate comfort food during winters. 

Malpua, Jharkhand

 
 
 
View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Foodies of Bhubaneswar (@foodies_of_bhubaneswar) on Jul 10, 2019 at 2:43am PDT

Though more of a snack than dessert, malpua over time has become synonymous with the festival of Holi. Flour, sugar, milk and mashed bananas are mixed together, fried till golden brown and coated with sugar syrup. Though quite similar to pancakes, the desi flavour of malpuas make them quite irresistible.

Ada Pradaman, Kerala

 
 
 
View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Hemasri (@hemasri) on Sep 3, 2017 at 9:06pm PDT

All the Malayalis would agree with us on this that Onam is incomplete without Ada Pradaman. A significant element of the Onam Sadhya, this is basically a rice pudding with coconut and jaggery as the key components. The chewy ‘ada’, made out of rice, adds a delightful texture to the ‘pradhaman’.

Elaneer Payasam, Tamil Nadu

 
 
 
View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Lisas Flavours (@lisasflavours) on Sep 4, 2019 at 5:33am PDT

Elaneer or what is more popularly known as tender coconut is an absolute bliss during those days when the scorching heat is unbearable. We were pretty sure that there’s nothing that can top this until we had our encounter with it. This tender coconut pudding is a go-to-dish when the sugar cravings kick in and an elaborate affair in the kitchen is the last thing on your mind. 

Nolen Gurer Payesh, West Bengal

 
 
 
View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Smitha @smithasculinaryjourney (@smithasculinaryjourney) on Apr 13, 2019 at 10:25pm PDT

A Bengali’s love for mishti doi, roshogolla and shondesh is quite well known. While these quintessential Bengali sweets have become the country’s favourite by now, there are numerous other desserts that this region offers which you might not be aware of. One of the classic favourites is nolen gurer payesh. Nolen gur, or date jaggery, is made in every Bengali household to mark the coming of the winters. It can be served warm or cold, but add a hint of cardamom powder and you’ve got yourself a treat.


Related Articles

Here to there

Explore Directions(Routes) and more...
to Go

Our Other Editions

Outlook’ is India’s most vibrant weekly news magazine with critically and globally acclaimed print and digital editions. Now in its 23rd year...

Explore All
  • Check out our Magazine of the month
  • Offbeat destinations
  • In-depth storytelling
  • Stunning pictures
  • Subscribe