Sweets from the motherland

The husband is back after a ten day trip to the homeland.

(He is now considered an ‘alien of extraordinary ability’ by the US Government. I agree with their assessment, but aren’t all aliens extraordinary?)

Anyway, he came back with half a suitcase full of my favorite Indian sweets. Completely unrelated to any dessert you’re likely to find in the Indian restaurants here.

Literally, rose-plums. Balls of flour and dried milk, deep fried and then soaked in simple syrup. The slightly darkerΒ  one on the left is a kaala-jaam, where the balls are rolled in sugar before frying, giving them a thicker, sweeter crust. Served as is or reheated in the syrup.

Boondi are tiny, pea sized balls of deep fried gram flour. (No one said this was going to be healthy.) They are then soaked in syrup and spices and rolled into balls. These large laddoos are the fancy ones used in weddings, covered with edible silver leaf and dotted with saffron.

Moong daal barfis are another favorite. Coarsely ground mung dal flour, slow cooked in clarified butter and sugar and fashioned into squares. They freeze beautifully and taste so good reheated in the microwave. I have to shave off the silver leaf, though, which tends to burn when under attack.

In the background is ghevar, a seasonal treat. A Rajasthani sweet made only during the monsoon season, it is lightly sweetened and spongy in texture. During Teej, a festival celebrating marriage and household bliss, boxes of disc-shaped ghevar are brought to the daughter’s household by her family of birth.

And finally, the one sweet I’d take with me on a deserted island. Chhena murki, a Bengali sweet made simply by soaking cottage cheese cubes in a thick sugar syrup and letting it dry. I like to scrape off the sugar with my fingers and eat the cottage cheese within. Mm.

Most of these desserts are flour and grain-based. India also has a huge range of dried fruit and nut-based desserts, but those are easier to replicate at home. These are the ones more likely to find their way into suitcases going out of the country, to be frozen and reheated for special occasions. If they survive that long.

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About purplesque

Psychiatrist, cook, bookworm, photographer. Not necessarily in that order.
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14 Responses to Sweets from the motherland

  1. Jabulani says:

    OK, *now* I see why you haven't fixed the transporter. It's so I can't hop in it and beam over there to share these with you, huh!! Tell A I'm a little saddened that he didn't stop off in London on his way over to drop some of these off. Pfffft Great photos btw πŸ™‚

  2. Wow, they all look delicious. So, he was able to bring back food, no problem. I was not sure how customs handled food. I know they can be weird about some things. It looks like everything arrived in perfect condition. Great photos. I am quite hungry now.

  3. Yummmmmmm……..did you eat it all up in a day? Or is the plating just for photos?
    My mouth is watering now…..no fair!

  4. Zotta says:

    Well, that all sounds good. Extraordinary!

  5. I love gulab jamun! Having Indian in-laws, I've been able to sample many Indian desserts, and they've introduced me to a terrific Indian deli in Berkeley where I can eat gulab jamun until I have to hold my stomach while I walk. πŸ˜€

  6. LeendaDLL says:

    Soooooo… if I live slightly near an area dubbed "Little India", what are my chances of finding these sweets there?

  7. Brown Suga' says:

    Wow! I haven't heard of ghevar and Chhena Murki! They sound delish.

  8. Priya says:

    OH…..MY……GOD!! Gorgeous pictures of gorgeous food. Makes me sooo homesick and oh sooo hungry. Thanks for sharing the pics πŸ˜‰

  9. Purplesque says:

    He flew via Doha. He might also have been a leetle afraid of what I might do if he decided to share these with anyone, including MY friends. Fix the transporter, Jabulani. I've saved some barfi for you. πŸ™‚

  10. Purplesque says:

    No..I haven't reached that stage yet. The plating was all for the photos. Mailed most of the ghevar to sis (its her favorite), froze some, and have been systematically eating through the chhena murki and mung daal barfi ever since. Yumm.

  11. Purplesque says:

    Yes..one hears the horror stories, but to be honest, we've had a fair experience with US Customs and TSA. I'd warned him not to bring anything that looked powdery or otherwise suspicious. Most of the sweets were in the original packing, and I suspect the customs officials are now very much acquainted with Indian sweets (and different stores selling them.) You are not allowed to bring raw produce, of course.

  12. Purplesque says:

    Oh, how I envy you! We live in a small city, and even though we can get our hands on Indian sweets, they are never fresh/good enough.Please let me know if that deli carries chhena murki (unlikely- its not really a mainstream sweet). If they do, then I will call them and give them all my treasures to get a box shipped to me. πŸ™‚

  13. Purplesque says:

    You should be able to find gulabjamun and boondi ki laddoo without much
    difficulty. If you're really lucky you may even find good ones. πŸ™‚ The
    others might be slightly harder. Haldiram's canned gulabjamuns can be
    found in most large Indian stores, and they taste fairly decent reheated
    in the microwave. (I like to dilute the syrup with water, since its too

    We once wandered into a sweet shop on Lexington Ave in NYC. The shop
    owner insisted that we sample all the fresh sweets he had just made,
    including some that I never expected to find here. They were delicious!

  14. Purplesque says:

    Yeah..they aren't that mainstream. Try Gulab or Haldiram if you're ever in Delhi..ghevar is sold only during monsoon. I love the version that has maava on top. *drool*

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