7 Indian Desserts You Should Make This Festive Season
Come September and the season of festivities starts in India. It’s that time of the year when our home looks like a bride, beautiful and decked up. We put on our finest clothes and smiles to welcome the happiness that these festivals bring with them. The joy starts with the God of good fortune, Ganesh ji, who transforms the aura of our entire country, even if it’s just for 10 days. Well, let’s keep put aside the frustration of the traffic and blaring speakers for a bit. Old recipe books are dusted and our grandmothers’ treasure troves are relived. Sweets, especially modaks, are prepared days in advance. By the end of Ganesh Chaturthi, most of us gain a few kilos just because of these sweet dumplings. But since there is still a couple of days left for us to bid him goodbye, why not try desserts which are more than just the standard modaks? Scroll down to find 7 desserts from Indian kitchens that deserve a spot in your recipe books in the coming days.
1. Banana Sheera
This sweet is prepared on various auspicious occasions and is a must-have in Maharashtra. Cooked with ripe bananas and semolina, enjoy it with the sounds of dhols and God’s hymns in the background.
- 1 cup roasted semolina/sooji/rava
- 2-3 bananas, chopped
- 8-10 almonds or cashews, chopped or sliced
- 10-12 raisins
- 2-3 cardamoms, powdered
- 3 tbsp oil or ghee
- 5-6 tbsp sugar (add as required)
- a pinch of saffron, crushed
- 21/2 cups hot water or hot milk
- Heat oil in a pan. add pre-roasted semolina and fry for 2-3 minutes till the semolina starts to become fragrant. Don’t brown the semolina.
- Add chopped bananas and stir.
- Add the hot water or milk and dry fruits. Stir.
- Add sugar and stir. Simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- Now add the saffron. Stir and simmer for another 2-3 minutes.
- Serve it hot.
2. Ponsa Patholi
This Konkan delicacy is absolute bliss when eaten hot on a rainy day. Since the rainy season is almost over, I suggest you make it right away!
- 1 cup rice
- 1 1/2 cup ripe jackfruit pods, chopped
- 1/4 cup grated coconut, fresh/frozen
- Banana leaves, as required
For the stuffing:
- Take jaggery in a pan with couple of tablespoons of water.
- Heat it until it turns bubbly. Then add grated coconut.
- Mix well and continue heating until all the moisture evaporates. Then turn off the heat and add cardamom powder.
- Allow it to cool. The stuffing is ready.
For the dessert:
- Wash and soak the rice for two hours. While it is soaking, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Chop the jackfruit (discard the seeds).
- Make rectangular or square pieces of banana leaves. Then wash and pat dry using a paper towel or kitchen towel. Set it aside.
- Once the rice is soaked, drain the water completely. Then add drained rice, chopped jackfruit pods, grated coconut in a blender.
- Grind them into a smooth paste without adding water. Then transfer it to a bowl.
- Now arrange the banana leaves, side by side.
- Then start spreading a small amount of the jackfruit batter until you get a thick layer.
Repeat with the rest of the batter on the other banana leaves.
Start spreading the sweetened coconut mixture on the centre of each batter-covered banana leaf. Fold them vertically.
Place them carefully in a steamer. Steam them for 25-30 minutes.
Ponsa Patholi is ready!
3. Coconut Ladoo
Desiccated coconut is one ingredient that is often in Indian desserts. Considered a good omen in our culture, these tiny balls of goodness are oh-so-yummy!
- 1.5 cups desiccated coconut (unsweetened)
- ⅔ cup organic unrefined cane sugar or regular sugar
- ½ cup water
- 3-4 cardamoms, husked and powdered in a mortar-pestle (optional)
- Add sugar to water and mix it till it’s completely dissolved.
- Put the mixture on a low flame.
- Switch off the flame once the solution thickens. Add the coconut and cardamom powder to it.
- Make small balls out of the mixture.
- That’s it!
4. Papaya And Carrot Halwa
Forget gaajar ka halwa (well, for sometime) and try this ripe papaya halwa. This rich dessert is about to make your after-dinner sweet cravings a lot tastier! Plus, it’s healthy.
- 1 medium semi ripe papaya, approx 4.5 cups of chopped papaya or 3.5 to 4 cups of grated papaya
- 2 to 3 tbsp oil or ghee
- 4-5 tbsp sugar — or as required depending on the sweetness of the papaya
- 2-3 cardamom, powdered or ½ tsp cardamom powder
- 2 tbsp almond powder or milk powder or coconut powder or evaporated milk/khoya ( I used 15 almonds and ground them to get approx 2 tbsp of almond powder)
- 12-15 halved cashews or as required
- Wash the papaya and slice them.
- Remove the seeds and fine chop the fruit.
- Heat oil or ghee in a kadai or pan. Add the chopped papaya.
- Stir and cook on a low flame for about 14-15 minutes.
- Keep stirring so that no lumps are formed.
- The fruit will release it juices, change colour and lose its opacity.
- Add sugar and then stir. Continue to cook for another 18-20 minutes on a low flame.
- By now the oil will begin to separate. Add ground almonds and stir.
- Cook for 5-6 minutes more till the dish starts coming together.
- Serve papaya halwa hot or cold after dressing it with some cashews.
Practice making your Diwali sweets by making this delicious and crunchy dessert, karanji. Though a little time-consuming, it is surely worth all the hard work!
For the dough:
- 1 cup all purpose flour/maida
- 1/4 cup sooji/rawa
- 2 tsp oil
- 1/2 cup warm milk
- A pinch of salt
For the filling:
- 1 tsp poppy seeds/khaskhas
- 1 tsp sooji/rawa
- 1 cup dry grated coconut
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
- Assorted nuts
For the cover/coating:
- Heat up 2 tsp oil. Mix all purpose flour, sooji, salt in to a bowl and pour hot oil over it. Mix well till the mixture becomes crumbly.
- Pour warm milk slowly to create medium consistency dough, not too hard and too soft.
- Cover and keep the dough for 30 minutes.
- Dry roast sooji and poppy seeds separately till they become a light brown color.
Add coconut to dry roasted sooji and poppy seeds, add sugar, cardamom powder, dry fruits and mix well.
For the karanji
- Take the dough and again knead to make it smooth. Divide the dough into 3 equal parts. Roll them into 3 thin rotis.
- Mix rice flour and ghee to make it smooth and creamy.
- Now take one thin roti, spread rice flour mixture evenly on it, place another roti on the top of it, and again spread the rice flour mixture.
- Now place the third roti, roll it evenly from all the sides to make it little thin. Again spread some of the rice flour mixture. Now start to roll these three rotis together like Swiss Roll.
- Stretch it out little bit, now divide it in to equal parts.
- Take the ball and roll like a poori, add the stuffing, apply milk around its edges and seal the karanji well.
- Use a fork and make some designs around karanji.
- Now deep-fry till it becomes a light golden colour.
6. Kesar Barfi
No festival is complete without some barfi. Why should this one be any different? Kesar, the ingredient that has the potential to make any dessert royal, this time shows its magic in the form of a barfi.
- ½ cup semolina flour or fine semolina (fine sooji, fine cream of wheat)
- ¾ cup raw almonds soaked overnight
- a pinch of sea salt or regular salt
- 2 tablespoons of oil (I usually use 1 tablespoon coconut oil and 1 tablespoon earth balance butter or organic canola oil)
- ½ cup ground raw sugar (or coconut sugar or any other sugar of choice. Use 2 tablespoons if you prefer it sweeter)
- ¼ cup water
- a pinch of cardamom powder
- ½-1 teaspoon saffron strands (to taste)
- a pinch of salt
- Soak the almonds overnight. Peel and pulse into coarse crumbs. Add a pinch of sea salt and keep ready.
- To peel almonds easily. Drain and soak them in boiling water for 2 minutes. The skin will loosen up. Press the almonds and they will pop out.
- In a pan, mix all the ingredients of the sugar syrup and bring to a boil on low-medium heat. Continue boiling till 1 string consistency is achieved.
- Meanwhile, in another pan, dry roast the semolina on low-medium heat for 6-8 minutes or until it starts changing colour.
- If your semolina grain is large, then pulse it a few times in a blender/processor before roasting.
- Add ground almonds, oil and mix well to form crumbs. (Mix continuously by pressing and breaking crumbs to evenly distribute the oil. half a minute)
- Add the boiling sugar syrup and mix well.
- Take off heat after a few seconds and pour on greased/oiled or parchment lined pan.
- Even it out, use knife to cut into square or diamond shape, and let cool for 15 minutes before breaking into pieces.
For the last days of the festival, try this last-minute, quick recipe that you can literally finish in a matter of minutes. Made of roasted gram flour, it has an flavour to it.
- 1/2 cup gram flour
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup ghee
- 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
- 1/4 cup chopped cashew nuts
- Heat a pan and dry roast the pottukadala on low flame till it becomes fragrant. Do not allow it to change colour. Roasting is optional, but it enhances the flavor.
- When it cools down slightly, grind into a fine powder using a mixer. Sieve the pottukadala powder and keep aside. In the same way, powder the sugar, cardamon and sieve.
- In the bowl, add the powders. Heat ghee in a pan and add the chopped cashew nuts and roast for a minute. Add the hot melted ghee into the pottukadala sugar mixture and mix well with your hands.
- At this stage, it will resemble course sand. Make it into balls when it is warm, otherwise it may be difficult to take shape. Take a handful of the mixture, press and roll into smalls balls. Allow to cool and serve.
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