India is renowned for its sweets, or mithai in Hindi-Urdu. Indian desserts, like much of the vast South Asian country’s cuisine, vary from region to region, with coconut proving especially popular throughout the tropical south. Take, for example, Goa’s rosewater-scented, coconut-and-semolina cake, calledbaath. In the eastern region of West Bengal (as well as in Bangladesh, just across the border), palm jaggery is incorporated into dense, fudgysandesh, made from cardamom-scented paneer. And in the central-northern regions—heavily influenced by the Persian techniques and ingredients introduced during the Mughal Empire—elegant court treats like vibrant saffron toast are frequently blinged out with silver leaf.
Though not considered dessert in India, the banana fritters and rice porridges traditionally offered up to the Hindu goddess Attukal Amal during Kerala’s Attukal Pongala festival are certainly sugary enough for you to serve after dinner—they make a good breakfast, too.
So whether you’re looking for a sweet way to start your day or end a meal, our best Indian dessert recipes make it easy to incorporate the flavors of this complex nation.