Indian Dessert Recipes

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Gulab Jamun (Indian Sweets) Recipe

Gulab Jamun (Indian Sweets)

03.26.10 by Jackie

Gulab jamun is my husband Lulu's favorite Indian dessert. The sweets are deep-fried balls of dough, bathed in rose (gulab) and cardamom syrup. The texture resembles the liquor syrup-saturated French cake Baba au Rhum.

I've just experienced making my own for the first time and it tasted pretty similar to the ones I've had in the past. I added a few saffron threads to impart a brighter yellow color to the syrup and I didn't add finely crushed pistachios as Lulu's great-aunt does, because of my little sister-in-law's nut allergy.

You can eat them cold, but our favorite way to enjoy gulab jamun is to warm them a bit before serving. It adds another dimension to the dish. Gulab jamun is a bit too rich to eat on a regular basis, but it's perfect for special occasions when you want something more exotic than cake.


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Chana Milk Halwa (Besan Burfi) Recipe

Chana Milk Halwa (Besan Burfi)

02.23.10 by Jackie

If you're familiar with French pâtes de fruit or fudge, you'll want to try the Indian / Middle Eastern equivalent,  called halwa. Halwa literally means "sweet" in Arabic. It can be made with different ingredients such as carrots, pumpkin, yams, beets, semolina and many types of beans, lentils or nuts.

Daddy (my father-in-law) had a craving for some chana dal halwa, so my mother-in-law made several batches this weekend. To the chana dal, she added roasted cashew nuts (Kaju in Urdu) for flavor and texture. This particular recipe also calls for a large quantity of clarified butter, or gheeGhee is popular in Indian cuisine and can be found at almost any Indian grocery store. This dessert is definitely not low fat or low calorie, but the taste and texture are extraordinary. Store-bought halwa cannot compare.

We made a huge batch and stored them in tins in the refrigerator. The girls placed the sweet candy in cellophane gift bags and tied a pretty bow around them to give away to their friends and teachers. Whether  or not you decide to share the dessert with others, you should definitely find time to make some. Your efforts will definitely be rewarded.


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Gajar Halva (Indian Carrot Halwa Dessert) Recipe

Halva means sweet in Arabic. India is home to many varieties of halva, and it can be found at almost all of our family gatherings.

This particular type is made with carrots. Lulu's aunt taught me how to make it. The base is a dense, sweet confection made of flour such as cream of wheat or garbanzo flour, nut butter such as tahini, or lentils like mung beans. My friend Carole, who is by the way the editor of the site, told me she loves this kind. Here's her feedback about carrot halva:

"Your halva was smoother [than the one I get at the restaurant], and at the same time more flavorful but more subtle, too. We loved it. I can't wait to see the recipe and what's involved. I have a sneaky feeling there's going to be more butter than I want to know about!"

I told Carole: "Well, don't be afraid, there are only two tablespoons of ghee". I prefer making it at home because the gajar halva found at restaurants tends to be too thin and cloyingly sweet. I suspect that the extra sweetness is used to conceal the lack of richness that one would expect from real gajar halva.

Gajar halva, like some Vietnamese desserts, is not always the most glamourous-looking sweet, but it is delicious. If you've never had it before, try making some at home. You will love it.


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Kaju Pista Rolls (Indian Cashew and Pistachio Sweets) Recipe

Kaju pista rolls are Indian sweets that are very similar to marzipan. It's almost like edible Play-Doh. Kaju and pista respectfully means cashew nuts and pistachio in Hindi. I guess there is a similarity with French, we called cashews, noix de cajou. I'm just thinking out loud.

Anyways, these cylinderical shaped mithai (Hindi for sweets) look very playful and are absolutely delicious. I find many Indian desserts too sweet for my palate, but these treats are just perfect.  I can never eat just one, and if you make this recipe, you won't be able to either.


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Mina's Pistachio Almond Cardamom Kheer (Indian Rice Pudding) Recipe

If you've been to an Indian buffet, you've probably had some kheer. This kheer is a regular rice pudding made with Indian spices. Cardamom, almond and pistachio are common flavorings in Indian desserts. It was flavored at the end with kewra water. You can also add a touch of saffron water to give a yellow color to the dessert as well.

Every culture that uses rice as a starch has some form of rice pudding. In France, it's called le riz au lait. In Vietnam, it's chè đậu trắng, a black eyed pea sticky rice pudding. And of course, there is good old American rice pudding, usually topped with nutmeg, mace and cinnamon.

Mina is Lulu's cousin. We had a potluck going on this weekend and she brought desserts. And as a food blog addict, I had to post it.


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