Tag Archives: sweets

Indian Edible Sweet Souvenirs

29 Apr

Over the years, I have tried to never accustom anyone in my family to expect a gift whenever I travel. It may sound kinda harsh, but with the amount of travel I do, if I accustom people to expect a gift from me, it would be a burden to my schedule and my budget. I do try to bring things to share with people so they can enjoy a little bit of my travels too… Say for example, it’s kind of awkward to travel in India for 3 weeks and arrive at my sister’s home empty-handed.

As soon as we arrived in India, we were gifted a backpack filled with Indian goodies: a sari for the girls and a dhoti for the guys, a towel that looks like a very nice kitchen towel and these… Gajjak Til Papad. The best way I can describe it is this is the Indian version of a sesame seed brittle. Super duper thin sheet of sugar with sesame seeds, pistachios and flavored with cardamom. We ate one box along the trip… this was our in-room snack, we brought one box for my sister and I have an extra one with me in Puerto Rico. It’s in the fridge for the sugar to be hard and crispy like we ate them in India and not softy and chewy.

Gajjak Til  Papad

For years, my mom and I have enjoyed 2 of India’s most popular desserts – galub jamun and rasgulla. We lovingly call them “the Indian balls”. Galub Jamun is a ball made of wheat flour and Rasgulla is a ball made from an Indian cheese similar to paneer called chhena. Both are served warm in syrup and they’re delicious!!!! For years, we’ve seen these desserts packed for travel in cans and this was the first time we brought some home. You can find them in any sweet shop and especially at gift shops at the airports.

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Rasgulla Collage

In Allahabad we were treated to Dry Petha… which is a dry, sugared pumpkin. I am guessing it’s some sort of zucchini or squash because it’s white in color. I have not been able to identify the “pumpkin” this sweet is made of. They’re a nice ending to a meal… sweet and light and perfect to bring a few to your room for a snack!! 😉 You can also find these packed in boxes ready to travel home with you.

Dry Petha Collage

And in Delhi we were taken to a sweet shop called Bikanervala… here we bought our to-go cans of rasgullas and galub jamun. But we also discovered something else that was completely new to me – Mawas. I am not even sure if this is their correct name. I believe it’s a halva made from dried fruits or nuts. Or as we would say in the west, like a turrón or dry nougat. We just saw the little packages in the store, asked to try one and ended up buying 3 kinds – Mango, Badam which is Almond and Pista which is pistachio. Now I know 3 more words in hindi, yay!!!!

Turrones Collage

Over the last few weeks, these sweets have been a terrific way to remember thru our taste buds some of the wonderful experiences we had in India. I can’t wait to make some Indian sweets of my own!!!!

Do you bring back edible souvenirs from your travels?? Tell me all about them…

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Incredible India all over again – Sweets

29 Jun

In my trips to India I have learned Indians love their sweets…  they have great sweet treats for special occasions and for the everyday.  I was only familiar with carrot burfi, something my friend Rosani taught me how to make.  But sweets and desserts in India are very regional, and in my three trips to India, I have yet to encounter a carrot burfi.

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Let’s go from the mundane to the special…  but then again, mundane vs. special is all a matter of taste and perspective.

Something I learned to eat in my first trip to India was rasgulla.  I ate a LOT of these…  These are small balls made from milk and served with sweet syrup.  They’re spongy, chewy and sweet but not overwhelmingly sweet.  We saw many versions of ragulla during our trip – some are pale but some are browned, as if they were fried before they were immersed in the sweet syrup.  Some people loved them to top vanilla ice cream.   I preferred them on their own…    I was also told these can be bought in a tin at any regular supermarket to be brought home – a nice memento from your Indian trip. 

Something we saw quite frequently on our buffets was Halvas – this particular one was Suji Ka Halwa, made with semolina flour.  I loved these because they’re like a dry-out cream of wheat with sugar and spices.  We had several versions that included lentils and other legumes… but they tasted really good and not savory at all.  I searched some recipes on the internet and I am sure my friend Tania and I will be making a few versions of these soon at the Yoga center.

 

Mangoes are abundant in India… when you want a nice boxed juice to cool off, mango is the flavor of choice in India.  Writing this I realized you don’t see them fresh in the streets to be sold.  Hum… something to explore if I ever visit some other time.  And with as much mango juice you see in the streets, this was the first time we ran across a mango sweet treat – aamras.  We had this in Indore – a puree of mango to be eaten alone or, like I did, on top of vanilla ice cream.   This is something we can certainly replicate in any western kitchen… no?

 

We were fortunate enough to celebrate a few special occasions while in India – Annie Mariel’s birthday and the engagement of a young couple in Varanasi our tour guide was friends with the bride’s side.   The staff at our hotel treated Annie Mariel with Gajar Ka Halva, apparently the India version of a birthday cake.  This is made with carrots and nuts  and it was delicious…  I had it with chai masala tea on the side and the piece given to us was so big, some of it made it home to Puerto Rico. 

For the engagement, we were given as a memento Soan Papdi – a flaky dessert with almonds and pistachios.  It looks flaky and when you put a bite in your mouth it just dissolves.  Really good…

 

Hope this gives you a nice glimpse into the vast world of Indian sweets… and when you visit India or just go to a Indian neighborhood you will be adventurous enough to try some of their sweet treats.  Namaste!!

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