If you love milk and desserts, this one is for you. Check out these delicious milk sweets across India that you must sample when you visit next!
India is the largest producer of milk, thanks to the White Revolution in the country. Milk and milk products have played an important part not only in the country’s culinary culture, but its mythology as well. Be it ghee lamps lit on Diwali, or makhan (white butter) that Lord Krishna loved as a child, mythology has been filled with instances using milk. The use of milk and ghee in desserts across Indian cultures (seviyan kheer, kada prasad, laddoos, roshogulla and so much more) has been prevalent since time immemorial, and these form a key part of festivities.
But why are we discussing milk so much? Because the ingredient lends itself beautifully to meals across the world. Be it a glass of milk for children, turmeric milk to ward off cold and cough, or cream added to biryanis and cheese to pizza, the ingredient is important across cultures for its distinctive creamy consistency and flavour.
Closer home, India has a variety of milk-based dishes and sweets across its length and breadth. While the more popular dishes such as roshogulla, barfi and peda are more widely known and relished, some unique regional delicacies such as Bappa Doi and Doodh Laddoo are relatively less available, delicious milk-based treats that are a must-try in India.
So, in case you’re travelling to these destinations, be sure to check out the milk sweets they have to offer!
Travel through India with these distinctive milk-based sweets
Daulat Ki Chaat/Makhan Malai, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi
Daulat Ki Chaat or Makhan Malai is a classic winter treat in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. The dish is hardly available down south because of the warm weather, as it requires chilly temperatures to hold its texture. Available in Chandni Chowk in Delhi and in places such as Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, the dessert is made with milk foam, coloured (and flavoured) with saffron, and served with sugar and mava.
Doodh Laddoo, Jaipur, Rajasthan
A delicacy unique to Laxmi Misthan Bhandar in Jaipur, these Rajasthani laddoos are essentially boondi laddoos. What makes them special is that the boondi is made with milk, soaked in a sugar syrup and made into balls. Served with a sprinkle of slivered almonds, these laddoos are a must-have when in Jaipur, especially after a spicy, savoury pyaaz kachori.
Dodha, Haryana and Delhi
Dodha is a barfi made with sprouted wheat, sugar, glucose, milk, and ghee. The treat, which has a sticky, chewy texture, is said to be a distant cousin of Kalakand and milk cake thanks to its graininess. The dessert is popular in Haryana and Delhi, and is available in select mithai shops here.
Milk cake and Kalakand, Alwar, Rajasthan
Milk cake and Kalakand are two milk sweets that are known for their distinctive milky flavour, juiciness and sweetness. Milk cake is a crumbly, sticky dish that has a rich, caramelised milk flavour, while kalakand is softer, whiter and relatively sweeter in texture. The sweets are available across North India, but those in Alwar, Rajasthan are undoubtedly the best versions you will find.
Chaler Payesh/Kheer/Payasam/Phirni, Across India
Kheer is known by various names across the country. With a slight change in ingredients, kheer takes on a new flavour and form, and makes for a delicious treat. Enjoy phirni (made with broken rice) in Punjab, seviyan kheer (vermicelli kheer) in Uttar Pradesh and Payasam in Kerala for flavours that are distinctly different, but tied together with the same delicious sweet, creamy texture key to this scrumptious dessert.
Basundi, Maharashtra and Gujarat
Basundi is quite like rabri, which is more popular in Delhi and the Northern states. It is made using milk and sugar and topped with spices such as cardamom and saffron. The milk is reduced slightly, giving it an intense flavour and a textured bite. Garnished with nuts such as almonds and pistachio, basundi is great served both warm or cold.
Peda, Mathura, Uttar Pradesh
Mathura ka Peda is probably what your friends and relatives will ask you to bring back when you are in the city. Peda is made with khoya/mava, or evaporated milk solids. Peda has a wonderfully milky flavour and a crumbly yet melt-in-the-mouth texture. Mixed with mava, sugar and cardamom, it sometimes also has a bit of ghee and saffron added to it. The sweet is also used as prasad in the Krishna temples here, and makes for a yummy dessert.
Shrikhand, Maharashtra and Gujarat
One of the most popular yoghurt-based desserts, Shrikhand is immensely popular in Maharashtra and Gujarat. It is often eaten with poori, and is served chilled. Shrikhand uses hung yoghurt (or Greek yoghurt), sugar, cardamom, and flavourings such as pistachio, saffron or mango pulp (especially alphonso mango pulp). Shrikhand is a must-have when visiting the states!
Bhapa Doi, West Bengal
Bhapa Doi is an Indian version of a cheesecake, if you’d want to compare textures. The dish, which has its origins in Bengal, is a milk-based dessert that uses yoghurt, reduced milk and sugar. The milk is heated for a long time to reduce it, and then mixed with other ingredients and steamed, until it achieves its characteristic wobble and texture.
Shahi Tukda or Double Ka Meetha, Hyderabad
Shahi Tukda or Double Ka Meetha is made using fried bread slices and sweet, condensed milk, topped with sugar syrup and nuts. The bread is fried in ghee, and at times, dipped in the hot sweet milk/condensed milk, before being served. Additional milk can be added on top, and for garnishing, kesar (saffron) strands, pistachios and rose petals add the right amount of flavour and texture. Thought to be the dish of the royals and Nawabs, it is a classic Mughlai dish of which some of the most flavourful versions are served in Hyderabad.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Answer: Most popular Indian desserts made with milk are Rasgulla, Rasmalai, Bhapa Doi, Dodha, Milk Cake, Daulat Ki Chaat and Kheer, among many others.
Answer: Rasmalai and Shahi Tukda are two desserts soaked in milk.
Answer: A variety of flavours can be obtained in Indian milk-based sweets. Most of these include notes of caramel, fudge and thick, sweet pudding.