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.
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.