Rainbow of Indian sweets (मिठाई)

This week is Diwali, which means I go to Indian sweets and spices in Beaverton to get sweets for my Diwali feast. From the left, the brown balls are gulab jamun, coconut gulab jamun, carrot halwa burfi  and cashew burfi. The middle is a rosewater ladoo.

As a western traveler of North and South India, I feel that the sweets are pretty uniform, meaning you can often get any kind of sweet anywhere in India.

The only regional one I know of is the Tirupati  yellow ladoo (a round lentil sweet with cashews), which is given as part of prasad (meal you do after worship).

People try to get extras of these to take home to their family, since they have just visited the most holy summit in India to see Sri Venkatsewara, an  incarnation of the god Vishnu.


These famous ladoos are the size of a tennis ball, coated with sugar and hard to finish.

Here is mine from when I visited Tirupati:


Indian sweets are generally made with lentils, besan flour (chickpea flour) or nut paste (like cashews or almond). They can be sprinkled with nuts, sugar syrups or gushing with rosewater.

Often sweet shops, or मिठाई की दुकान (mithai ki dukan) advertise that the sweets are made from pure ghee, or clarified butter.  I often needed to end a spicy meal with one of these tasty treats.

Indian desserts are often very colorful and have silver or gold leafing.

India loves gold so much, I was astounded that some cooking shows listed that as a needed ingredient for even savoury  dishes like dal (lentil) dishes. Dessert is one thing in my opinion, leafing for the whole meal is a little much.

Stephanie Landis

I am a native Oregonian, but traveling has been my way of life since I was young. I was raised in Europe and traveled around Asia and Africa. I've studied two languages and plan to add more. Along with travel, enjoying a passion for food, art and culture is apart of my daily life. My hobbies other than writing are cooking, reading, watching films and attending cultural events.

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *