India consists of 29 states holding a vast wealth of different cultures and traditions, and this diversity unsurprisingly extends to their sweets.
Like their savoury dishes, Indian confectionaries (also known as mithai) are just as varied, complex, and compelling, with each cultural group having their own version. However, many of them share common ingredients. There’s usually a grain or bean flour like chickpea. It’s often cooked in ghee and sweetened with an unrefined cane sugar called jaggery. Additional flavourings include cardamon, rosewater, saffron, pistachio, coconut, or dried fruits.
These mithai are consumed on a daily basis, but with Deepavali coming on 24 October this year, we thought it’s appropriate to round up six traditional Indian sweets that easily available in Singapore. Read on to find out more and where you can get them.
Your guide to traditional Indian sweets in Singapore, and the best places to get them for Deepavali
Burfi is a confectionary made from milk and sugar. Either condensed milk or milk powder is used, and it’s cooked over a low flame until a dough forms. The dough is poured onto a baking tray, flavoured with ingredients like pistachio, cashew, cardamon, or dried fruit. An edible gold or silver leaf is also commonly pressed on top. The dough is allowed to set until it becomes firm then cut into rectangular shapes.
Jamun is a round, dairy-based sweet. It’s traditionally made from milk curds called khoya but sometimes milk powder is used instead. Flour and ghee is added to khoya and the mixture is kneaded until a dough forms. It is then divided into balls, fried in oil, and coated in a sugar syrup.
Kheer is a pudding made from milk, sugar, and a grain-like basmati rice. The grain is simmered in milk until mushy before sugar is added. Other flavourings like pistachio, cardamon, and rosewater can be included. Before serving, it’s sometimes garnished with saffron and dried fruits.
Ladoo, sometimes spelled laddu or laddoo, is a meatball-shaped sweet. It’s commonly made from chickpea flour called besan, but other alternatives include wheat or ground coconut. The flour is combined with spices like saffron (or an artificial alternative) for colour, fried in ghee, then combined with a sugar syrup. Flavourings such as dried fruit, nuts, and seeds are added before it’s shaped and allowed to cool.
Peda is another khoya-based sweet. It’s shaped like a thick coin and has a design pressed into it. To make it, khoya, sugar, milk, and a powdered spice like cardamon are mixed and simmered until it thickens. The mixture is then cooled, separated into small pieces, and shaped in a mould. Sometimes nuts like almond or pistachio are added on top.
Delightfully sweet and unapologetically orange, Jalebi has been a mainstay in the Indian sweet repertoire for decades – and for good reason. The chewy and crunchy dessert is made by deep-frying a flour batter in twisty pretzel-like shapes, before being dipped in sugar syrup. Rose water is also sometimes used to add a sweet fragrance to the dessert.
Where to get the best Indian sweets in Singapore:
This story was first published on Lifestyle Asia Singapore
Moghul Sweet Shop is a store in Little India that’s been selling mithai since 1996. They have burfi, peda, ladoo, and jamun, as well as dilkush (a type of puff pastry made with khoya and pistachio) and the doughnut-like balushai.
Online, Moghul sells their sweets in boxes consisting either of a single variety or an assortment. Alternatively, head to their location to try single pieces.
Moghul Sweet Shop is open from 9.30am to 9.30pm daily.
You can try Shangri-La’s mithai two ways this Deepavali. The first is through their Deepavali Mithai Gift Box, which comprises 15 pieces of assorted handmade mithai in two elegant box designs, or hampers that are curated for this celebratory festival. Scrumptious sweets here include Khajur Burfi, Motichoor Ladoo, and Quartet Kaju. Boxes are S$58 each, and you get 10 percent off if you order by 10 October.
The second way is through their The Taste of India buffet, which returns this year with traditional North Indian dishes such as Tandoori Jhinga King Prawns, Baby Lamb Racks Kebabs, Kaju Kismis Pulao, Kesar Rasmalai, and Rava Halwa. The buffet is available for lunch and dinner from 21 – 24 October 2022, and is priced from S$78++ to S$108++.
The mithai gift boxes are available for collection and delivery from 14 – 24 October 2022.
Fine dining Indian restaurant Rang Mahal is offering two mithai boxes this Deepavali. Opt for the Luxury Ancient Weaves Box, and you’ll get seven different bites – three sweet and four savoury – within a luxury silk-made box integrates diverse loom patterns of India, inspired by age old master weavers. Expect treats such as pistachio burfi and coconut ladoo, as well as the Sattu Saffron Mithai (saffron and cardamom-infused roasted pulses). Delicious savouries include spiced cashews, seasoned pumpkin seeds, and Crispy Mumbai Chidwa, which sees rice flakes tossed with mustard seeds, curry leaves, crispy onions, and green chillis.
All mithai are handmade daily with no preservatives.
The Classic Garden Bloom Box (S$98+) consists of 15 mithai and one savoury snack, while the Luxury Ancient Weaves Box ($228+) comes with 30 mithai and four savouries.
In support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, Rang Mahal will donate 10% of nett profits from its mithai sales to the Breast Cancer Foundation.
Adda and its Michelin-starred Chef Manjunath Mural brings back its mithai boxes for 2022 with modern and traditional flavours. They have six styles in total this year, and interesting flavours here include Oreo & Cashew, and Gula Melaka & Coconut.
Returning flavours include lychee and a rose compote called gulkand, saffron, melon seeds, and lentils, and figs, dates, mulberry, and nuts. All mithai are handmade, vegetarian friendly, and do not contain any preservatives.
The mithai boxes are available in three sizes, and prices start from S$68.
The boxes are available for pick up and delivery from 12th October 2022.
Fruits, nuts, and spices take centrestage this year in this wonderful melange of festive flavours. Within its beautifully designed gift box are North Indian specialities like Burfi, which comes in two flavours this year, Besan Gulab Burfi (with rose petals and saffron), and Dodha Nariyal Burfi (with desiccated coconut). Other indulgent sweets include the Badam Kishmish, Pista Laddoo, and Amrood Kaju Katli.
The Mithai gift box is available for takeaway and delivery via here from 10 – 24 October 2022 at S$68+ for a box of 15 pieces in an assortment of the abovementioned sweets. Orders of 100 boxes and above will enjoy a special rate of $58+ per box.