Try some Indian desserts if you’re looking for exotic sweets to satisfy your cravings!
Indians refer to their sweet dishes as mithai, and each one has its own unique flavor profile.
Indian desserts are commonly made with humble ingredients like sugar, flour, nuts, milk, and legumes.
Nevertheless, each one tastes different and is enhanced with classic Indian spices.
These confectioneries do more than just appease the sweet tooth. Some of them are a staple at festive occasions and are offered to deities.
Most Indian desserts are also cooked on the stovetop, so they’re a refreshing alternative to baked sweet treats.
Ready to up your dessert-making game and bring new flavors to your kitchen?
Here are 23 of the most delectable Indian desserts to make at home!
Carrot pudding is a North Indian dessert that’s popular during Diwali — a religious festival celebrating the triumph of good over evil.
This nutritious pudding features a combination of carrots, nuts, milk, sugar, and ghee (clarified butter).
Carrots are a source of beta carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. For a healthier dessert, you can replace whole milk with cashew milk.
This pudding can be served hot or cold and is best paired with a cup of masala chai (Indian spiced tea).
A round-up of Indian desserts won’t be complete without the famous rice kheer or Indian rice pudding.
This is one of those sweet dishes you’ll find in most Indian households.
The reason? It only needs three simple ingredients: rice, milk, and sugar.
Using whole milk is recommended to achieve the richest and creamiest consistency.
Flavoring the rice kheer calls for additional spices, such as cardamom, rose water, saffron, and nuts.
When combined, these additives bring a flowery aroma and a tropical taste.
Also known as gulab jamun, this dessert offers little balls of joy traditionally made using khoya, flour, sugar, and Indian spices.
Khoya refers to dried milk solids found in Northern India. It can be difficult to find outside the country, so many people choose to make this dessert with milk powder.
The milk balls are as small as berries and are dunked in a rose-flavored sticky syrup.
The flavor of this dessert is intensified with the addition of cardamom powder, lime juice, and paneer.
The perfect Indian milk balls are ultra-smooth on the outside and moist on the inside. They’re simply irresistible!
Shrikhand is often served as a part of thali meals at Indian restaurants or during weddings.
It’s a classic dessert hailing from the Indian states of Gujarat and Maharashtra.
Shrikhand is prepared with hung curd, which is yogurt that has been drained of all its water.
Add saffron, cardamom, milk, and sugar, and you’ll get a sweet, smooth, and creamy dessert!
For a crunchy finish, top this sweet dish with some chopped pistachios.
5. Mango Halwa
The richness and sweetness of mango pulp give life to this sweet dish.
Together with flour, ghee, and sugar, you can create one of the most beloved Indian desserts today.
Mango halwa or mango sheera has a melt-in-your-mouth texture, addictive aroma, and balanced sweetness.
While this dessert’s flavor source is the mango pulp, other ingredients like cardamom, nuts, and vanilla will make this dish more indulgent.
If you’re a fan of mangoes, this dessert will make you go wild, but in a good way!
When served hot or warm, it’s the perfect sweet dish to fend off the wintry nights.
Using only four ingredients and 20 minutes of your time, you’ll have a festive Indian dessert full of coconut-y flavors and crunchy goodness.
The ingredients you’ll need include coconut milk, shredded coconut, milk, and sugar. And the cooking steps? They’re pretty easy to do.
Just toast the shredded coconut, then mix with coconut milk and flavorings. Let it cool, shape into balls, and devour!
While this recipe will instruct you to use cardamom for added flavor, you can use other additives depending on your taste.
Ideal options include vanilla extract and lemon zest.
Rasmalai is a juicy and creamy dessert that’ll melt right in your mouth. Expect explosive flavors from sugar, saffron, cardamom, creamed milk, and nuts.
This quintessential dessert originated from Bengal, but is widely popular throughout India.
While making rasmalai is pretty time-consuming, the steps are easy-to-follow.
It’s a three-step process that includes making chena discs, boiling them in a sugar syrup, and then resting them in a thickened milk.
Perhaps the trickiest part is making the chena super soft. The secret is to curdle the milk immediately after it comes to a boil.
8. Mysore Pak
This Southern Indian dessert originated from one of the largest and splendid palaces in the country, the Mysore Palace.
The ghee-soaked Mysore pak is flavored with sugar and cardamom, with a texture that’s somewhat similar to a buttery cookie.
This dish is easy to make at home, and the entire process won’t take more than 30 minutes.
You’ll know you got it right when the outside is crumbly and the inside is oh-so-tender!
9. Boondi Ladoo
At first sight, boondi ladoos seem difficult to make, but this recipe proves otherwise. The total prep and cook time for this dish is only around 35 minutes.
The recipe will require you to make boondis from gram flour, cook them in sugar syrup, and then shape them into little balls. Garnish with raisins or nuts for added flavor.
Like the Indian carrot pudding, bondi ladoos are popular during the Diwali season.
They’re also served during Raksha Bandhan, a festival celebrating brother-sister relationships.
10. Puran Poli
Puran poli, in simple terms, is a plain bread with sweet stuffing. It’s commonly made during Indian festivities like Holi, Diwali, and Bail Pola.
Poli is a flatbread made using whole wheat flour, while puran is a filling that combines lentils, jaggery, cardamom, saffron, and nutmeg.
This flavor-packed Indian flatbread can be enjoyed as is, or you can serve it with saffron and cardamom-infused milk for the tastiest snack!
So simple yet so flavorful, phirni is one of the Indian desserts you should give a try!
Besides being super easy to make, all you need is milk, rice, saffron, sugar, and nuts.
This dessert indeed looks like rice kheer, but they’re made differently. The latter uses whole rice grains, while phirni is made with ground rice.
Adding aromatics like rose petals, saffron strands, or cardamom powder will give you a fragrant dish.
Meanwhile, almonds or pistachios can add a layer of flavor to your phirni.
For a fun twist, you can add pureed or grated fresh fruits to the classic phirni. Change the fruits and change the flavor of phirni, too!
Fluffy and syrupy white-colored balls that melt in your mouth — rasgulla is to die for! If you’re visiting India, this a must-have.
Similar to rasmalai, rasgulla is made by curdling milk to get soft chenna. They are drained of the whey, kneaded, and shaped into balls.
Cook them in sugar syrup and a couple of spices.
For rasgulla, the spongy, juicy balls will have to be cooked until they double in size. Refrigerate this dish with its syrup, serve chilled, and enjoy!
If you’re loving the varieties of puddings available in India, here’s another pudding recipe worth checking out.
Seviyan kheer is perfectly creamy and delicious, with a unique look because of its main ingredient: vermicelli.
The magic starts once you combine the other ingredients, such as whole milk, sugar, saffron, and roasted mixed nuts.
Feel free to change the spices and toppings depending on your taste.
Best of all, Seviyan is SO easy to make — almost hands-free! Just put everything in the Instant Pot, set the pot into porridge mode, stir well, and serve.
While jalebi is popular as Indian street food, it also makes an appearance in weddings and festivities. It’s deliciously crispy and a cinch to make, too!
I like to think of Jalebi as a kind of Indian fusion dessert. Because it looks so much like a funnel cake!
This version is made with gram flour, all-purpose flour, and sugar syrup. So it’ crisp and juicy at the same time.
When you make the batter right, you’ll finish making these delightful sweets in 30 minutes or less.
15. Doodh Peda
You’ll find doodh peda in almost all mithai shops in India, that’s how popular this dessert is!
Peda makes use of khoya or evaporated and dried milk solids. Homemade and instant khoya are both acceptable for this recipe.
Sweetened and flavored with cardamom powder, sugar, and pistachios, doodh peda is simply decadent!
16. Shahi Tukra
Shahi tukra is a classic Hyderabadi dessert that includes deep-fried bread slices and creamy sugar syrup.
The bread slices are fried in ghee until crispy and placed over a spiced and thickened milk mixture.
For a low-calorie dessert, you can toast the bread in the oven instead of frying it.
This recipe is perfect to use some of your leftover bread and impress the guests with a gorgeous, flavorful sweet dish.
Indians’ favorite summer dessert has arrived: kulfi. It’s more than just a simple ice cream since it has a different flavor profile and a denser texture.
It’s deliciously creamy without the flavor of starch, thanks to the combination of fresh cream and cornstarch.
The rich taste of kulfi comes from the sweetened evaporated milk, nuts, and cardamoms.
You’ll need some steel cups or popsicle molds when the ice cream mixture is ready to freeze.
The result is a frozen and well-spiced dairy dessert that kids and kids-at-heart will love!
18. Sooji Halwa
Ghee, sugar, and sooji (semolina) are the key ingredients for this mouthwatering Indian pudding.
The flavorings are optional but if you want an intensified Indian flavor, don’t skip adding the cardamom and nuts.
There are two secrets to making the best sooji halwa. First, get the ratio right: all the main ingredients have the same amount, while the water is doubled.
Second, you’ll need to roast the sooji to avoid the raw taste. Now, the secrets are out, go ahead and make a crowd-pleasing dessert!
This kalakand, or milk cake, is spiced with piney and fruity cardamom. It has a melt-in-your-mouth texture and a nice crunch, thanks to the chopped pistachios on top.
This dessert is firm yet moist — a cross between a cake and a fudge. The color of this cake may vary depending on the cooking method and ingredients used.
Traditionally, making kalakand takes SO much time, but this recipe is a game-changer because it’ll instruct you to cook it in an Instant Pot!
20. Kaju Katli
A fudge made of powdered cashews, that’s kaju katli in a nutshell. In its most basic form, you’ll only need water, sugar, and of course, cashews.
For flavoring, simply add ghee and rose water.
Kaju katli is a labor of love and isn’t easy to make at first. But with practice, you might find yourself creating this presentable dessert over and over again.
21. Urad Dal Laddu
You’ll love snacking on these no-bake protein balls because they’re crunchy, delicious, and definitely nutritious.
This is the dessert you can indulge in without any guilt!
The main ingredient of this laddu is urad dal (lentil) which is rich in protein, vitamin B, and other nutrients. Other healthy ingredients include ghee and jaggery.
To amp up the flavor, you can add dried fruits or almonds to this laddu.
If you’re a fan of sweets and peanuts, this recipe is perfect for you!
Also known as chikki, this sweet treat is traditionally made using peanuts and jaggery or brown sugar.
Other variations make use of additional flavorings such as ghee, sesame seeds, and a combination of nuts.
The nutty and sweet flavors are a match made in heaven, you’ll love eating this peanut brittle any time of the day!
Basundi is made by boiling the milk until it’s thick and creamy. Its delicate flavors come from cardamom and saffron, two of the most loved spices in India.
Adding some crunchy fruits to this mixture will make it more rich and flavorful.
Go for full-fat or whole milk if you want to achieve the perfect creamy consistency. For extra flavor and aroma, consider adding some rose water, too.
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