Indian Desserts

India, particularly the eastern part of the country, is renowned for its sweets; the date palms that thrive in the tropical climate provide a delicate sugar called nolen gur that’s used to create desserts such as fudgy sandesh, dense bites of sweetened cheese. From sweet and creamy rice pudding to over-the-top silver topped treats like royal toast to cooling lassis that are sweet enough to double as dessert, these recipes are some of our favorites.

This sweet riff on the Indian yogurt drinks known as lassis comes from Lingaraj Lassi, a popular refreshment stand in Bhubaneshwar in the east Indian state of Odisha. Its honeyed taste and caramel hue come from the sugars in the milk, which caramelize as the milk reduces, deepening and intensifying it in color and flavor.

Sevaya Kheer (Vermicelli Milk Pudding)

Home cook Yamini Joshi gave us the recipe for this Punjabi dessert of cardamom-spiced milk bolstered by toasted vermicelli noodles, dried fruit, and nuts.

Tamil-Style Sweet Rice Pudding

Sakkarai Pongal, Tamil-Style Rice Pudding »
Throughout India, creamy, chilled lassis are the go-to beverage for cooling off during the warmer months. To make them, milk or water-thinned yogurt is blended with ingredients such as strawberries or ripe mangoes. In the South India city of Hyderabad, the most popular lassi is made with Rooh Afza, a rose-scented syrup made with botanicals and sugar.

Bengali Milk Sweets (Sandesh)

For these simple bite-size confections from Bengal, milk is turned into homemade paneer cheese and then combined with sugar and cardamom to yield a dense, fudge-like treat. Get the recipe for Bengali Milk Sweets (Sandesh) »

Punjabi-Style Carrot Pudding (Gajar ka Halwa)

Studded with chopped nuts and flavored with aromatic cardamom and rose water, this sweet Indian pudding is made from a blend of nutty ghee, milk, cream, sugar, and grated carrot. It’s equally good served either hot or cold. Get the recipe for Punjabi-Style Carrot Pudding (Gajar ka Halwa) »

Shahi Tukra (Royal Toast)

This syrup-soaked toast is slathered in a sweetened reduction of milk flavored with saffron.