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5 Must-try Traditional Indian Sweets

India is one of the most fascinating places in the world that you can travel to. This massive country can seem polar opposite from one minute to the other, from snowy mountains to blisteringly hot beaches, from the super-rich to those living in the streets, from incredible modern architecture to ancient buildings, India has all that and more.

Depending on which part of the country you go to, you are sure to find incredible Halal food places nearby. Though the food may range from vegetarian dosas to tandoori chicken, one thing all of India has in common is its sweet tooth. That's right, Indians love their sweets, and once you have a taste of authentic Indian sweets, you'll love it too!

Indian sweets, or “Mithai” as they are known, are mouthwatering little parcels of joy. They are often made with loads of milk, sugar, butter, ghee (clarified butter), fruit, and nuts. The incredible smell of ghee is what makes them so unique, and what keeps you coming back for more. All traditional Indian sweets are vegetarian and alcohol-free, and therefore, Muslim-friendly as well.

Different Indian sweets come from different parts of the country. Many of them have been around for centuries, and you'll find classic versions of them as well as modern variations. You will be able to find most of these sweets, regardless of where they came from, in sweet shops all across India (and you will never be too far away from a sweet shop, that's a guarantee!)

1. Gajar Halwa (Carrot Halwa)

You might have snuck a few vegetables into your spaghetti bolognese to trick your kids into eating them, but the Indians have truly mastered the art! Gajar (carrot) halwa is a sweet or dessert that is made using carrots that are grated and boiled in sweetened milk. It is finished off with ghee (clarified butter) and garnished with nuts. This sweet can be enjoyed hot or cold. Gajar ka halwa is pretty popular in Punjab, and some say that this is where it originated from.

2. Barfi

Barfi is a dense milk-based traditional Indian sweet; sort of like the Indian fudge! This is one of the favorite sweets of India, and everyone loves coming up with their own adaptation of this classic sweet. There are so many types of barfi that come from all around India that it would be impossible to list all of them, but perhaps the most popular type of barfi is the kaaju barfi (cashew barfi). Barfis are also made using gram flour, pistachios, peanuts, and a whole host of other variations.

3. Rasgulla

Rasgulla is another classic Indian dessert made with milk. Milk curds are separated by curdling boiling milk with acid (like lemon juice) and then used to make a dough with a few other ingredients. This dough is then divided into golf-sized balls and boiled in sugar syrup until plump and juicy. This popular Indian sweet is said to have originated in East India, specifically in West Bengal and Odisha.

4. Rasamalai

Rasamalai is a sweet that evolved through rasgullas. The dough balls of chenna are formed and boiled in cream with saffron, and nuts, which is served after. As a result, rasmalai is a softer, richer relative of rasgulla. Many believe that this dish was created by K.C. Das of the present-day K.C. das Grandsons, a famous sweet shop in West Bengal, but others say that's not true.

5. Payasam

Payasam is a sweet/drink that is famous in South India, frequently served after a feast during unique events like celebrations and weddings. This is another milk-based sweet, and it is presented with vermicelli and nuts.

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