Indian wedding sweets are the torch bearers of traditions and play a key role in setting the stage for families to come together. While we are all familiar with popular desserts like laddu, peda, jalebi, to name a few, we decided it’s time to bring to focus traditional Indian sweets that may not be as popular, yet considered a key component of Indian wedding ceremonies.
According to the book, Sweet Invention – History of Dessert by Michael Krondl, Indian wedding sweets carry forward the tradition of marking life’s key events with elaborate desserts. From birth to death, every stage of life is celebrated with desserts.
Traditionally, all Indian desserts are made on top of a stove, whether steamed, simmered, boiled in syrup, toasted, pan fried, or deep fried, or sometimes a combination of all these techniques!
Indian wedding sweets and desserts (in general) require a great deal of precision, technique, and labour. Making it on a large scale for wedding guests is not a joke.
Indian wedding sweets bring together simple ingredients to symbolise the union of families. The way some of the desserts are presented (cones, round balls, flat cakes) have religious significance as well.
Let’s take a closer look at 11 traditional Indian wedding sweets from all corners of India.
1. Paruppu Thengai Cones
Image Credits – Sri Sai Alamelu Catering Services
The Paruppu Thengai Koodu is always the at the centre of every auspicious ceremony in Tamil Nadu and several other states in India. It translates to “lentils coconut cone” and is usually made of lentils, coconut, and jaggery stuffed in decorated metal cones. However, there are several variations in the recipe. This includes fried gram dal dipped in sugar syrup, Mysore pak, laddu, or candied cashew.
It is said that the cones represent Shiva and Parvathi and the shape is said to channel positive energy for special occasions.
2. Paal Ada Pradamam
Image Credits – Kothiyavunu.com
Pradamam forms an integral part of the Kerala cuisine. One of the recipes served at wedding feasts, and during festivals such as Onam, is the Pradamam (payasam) to signify the end of the meal. The word ‘pradamam’ means the first one. Hence the Ada Pradamam is called as such since it is No.1 among the payasams.
In Malayalee cuisine, there are different kinds of this Indian wedding sweet, namely Chakka Pradamam made from jackfruit pulp and Ada Pradamam made from flat ground rice. The ingredients are rice flour (made into flakes), milk, sugar, water, cardamom, ghee, cashew nuts, and raisins. The trick in making the authentic Paal Ada Pradamam is getting the rice flakes right.
Image Credits: Ganesh Dutta / Wikipedia
Obbattu is a type of Indian sweet flatbread popular in the state of Karnataka. It is known by other names in southern states and is served in most south Indian weddings. The main ingredients for Obattu are maida, cooking oil, salt, turmeric and water to make the dough. There are two types of this Indian wedding sweet – one using lentils (Bele Obbattu) and the other using coconut (Kayi Obbattu).
In North India, Obbattu is known as Puran Poli. A recipe for puran poli is mentioned in Manasollasa, a 12th century Sanskrit encyclopaedia compiled by Someshvara III, who ruled from the present-day Karnataka.
Image credits: Rob Wicks, Eat Pictures
Among the many milk-based Indian wedding sweets, Shrikhand is the king of wedding sweets in western states such as Maharashtra and Gujarat. This sweet is so popular that even Amul sells it throughout India.
Need dessert ideas for your wedding reception? Check out Pinterest for a mouthwatering parade of sweets for Indian wedding reception.
5. Gur Paare
Image Credits: Archana’s kitchen
Indian wedding sweets make use of different types of sweeteners. Jaggery is one of them and The Punjabi Gur Paare which is made of sugar and jaggery is a staple wedding sweet in Punjab state. Jaggery is a rich source of iron and according to Ayurveda, jaggery is a wholesome sugar that is beneficial to health. Be warned, Gur Paare is addictive! Who wouldn’t like to munch on a bowl of candied biscuits?
6. Shahi Tukra
Image Credits – Fawad Ahmed, Dawn
Shahi Tukda, as the name suggests, means royal dessert. It’s an exotic rich bread pudding with lots of fruits flavoured with cardamom. This dessert is said to have become popular during the Mughal era.
Shahi Tukda is made by frying the bread pieces in oil and then dipped in sweetened milk. This Indian wedding sweet is then soaked in a rose/saffron flavoured sugar syrup and pouring the rabdi or sweet milk sauce over it. It can be garnished with edible silver foil, nuts, and cardamom powder.
Image Credits – Foodviva.com
Sandesh is a Bengali dessert created with milk and sugar. This Indian wedding sweet is mentioned in medieval Bengali literature, including Krittibas’s Ramayana and the lyrics of Chaitanya. The ingredients for this original dish is not known.
The best part of making Sandesh is that you can choose the type of flavours you want, and most importantly the sweetness levels. There are many different varieties of Sandesh, namely plain Sandesh, Gurer Sandesh, Norom Paker Sandesh,Kora Paker Sandesh, Paker Gurer Sandesh, to name a few.
Image Credits -Mohammed Tawsif Salam / Wikipedia
Pitha is a popular Indian wedding sweet among the eastern states of Orissa, Assam, Bengal, and Bihar. Pitha is made from rice flour or wheat flour and is stuffed with coconut, cashews, pistachios, jaggery to name a few. Considering the fact that Pitha is similar to a dim sum (steamed or fried), savoury Pithas are also popular.
Malpua is a fried Indian wedding sweet that is popular in North Indian weddings. The sweet has a pan-India presence and is also popular in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Malpua traces its roots to Apupa, a sweet preparation from the Vedic period. This dessert was made with barley flour which was either fried in ghee or boiled in water and then dipped in honey.
10. Chhena Jhili
Image Credits – Subhashish Panigrahi / Wikipedia
Chhena Jhili is an Odissi sweet prepared in fried cottage cheese and sugar syrup. It originated in Shyam Sundarpur village of Nimapada in Puri district and was created by Aarta Sahoo. The original recipe is a family secret!
However, the key ingredients are paneer, whole milk, hung curd, maida, sugar, wheat flour, cardamom powder, and ghee. Eaten hot, the soft, juicy cheesiness against the backdrop of a little hint of cardamom-y sweetness is divine.
Image Credits – Kalaiselve Murugesan / Wikipedia
Among all the traditional Indian wedding sweets, Kulfi can be considered as a dessert that is popular in all corners of India. Kulfi is the original Indian ice cream. It is believed that Kulfi became popular during the reign of Mughal emperors.
Kulfi (meaning metal cone in Persian) was made with evaporated milk, sweetened and garnished with pistachio and saffron, and immersed in ice after pouring the contents inside a metal cup.
What about the popular laddu?
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Summer in India is getting hotter every year. However, nothing takes away from the fact that the Indian summer is what defines our collective memory. Every grown adult in India will fondly cherish the unique food, sights, and scenes that define the Indian summer. Nobody remembers the heat anyways!
“Hot weather opens the skull of a city, exposing its white brain, and its heart of nerves, which sizzle like the wires inside a lightbulb. And there exudes a sour extra-human smell that makes the very stone seem flesh-alive, webbed and pulsing.” –Truman Capote.
While we cannot match Truman Capote in his rather imaginative description of summer, we have lined up 11 amazing artwork showcased on Dribbble and Behance to give you a glimpse of the essence of Indian summer. We encourage you to click on the images to find out more about the artists and their work.
1. Gathering under a Peepal tree
Illustration by Seerow.com
Villiage life in India revolves around gathering places like the temple or the peepal tree. On a warm summer day, the peepal tree provides a cool, shady place for the villagers to gossip or conduct the village council meetings. The artwork here was created for a consumer brand yet it captures the contemporary Indian village where modern influences are creeping in. If you notice carefully, you will see a smattering of Peepal leaves on the top of the image.
2. Dusk brings relief to a village
Anil Saxena on Behance
Villages across India look forward to summer and it is around this time that they would have harvested their crops and are flush with money. However, no amount of romantic notions we harbor of summer in Indian villages take away from the fact that men and women have to perform back-breaking work in the hot sun. This artwork is a clever amalgamation of images into one awesome picture! Click on the image to learn about the technique used by the artist (digital composting) to create this masterpiece.
3. Every Indian summer is synonymous with vacations
Contemporary Pattachitra painting by SCD Balaji
No Indian summer is without the obligatory trip to the hill station or a visit to the grandparent’s house. Nowadays, more and more families or visiting fancy resorts or exotic foreign locations as well. The idea of a summer trip is probably more romantic than the trip itself. The artwork shows a rather colorful couple with cool motifs and travel gear we will die for! This work was inspired by the Pattachitra style painting from Odisha. Pattachitra is considered to be a 1000-year-old art form and usually depicts colorful deities on a canvas. Click on the image to read more about the artist and his work.
4. Oranges and Indian summer are made for each other
Ollin on Dribbble
While no Indian summer is complete without the mangoes, oranges definitely occupy a prime place during summers in India. India is one of the largest producers of orange and the country houses over 1500 varieties of this fruit! When you go out to the market or get down from a bus, you will definitely find at least one street cart selling oranges. That’s not all, no Indian summer is complete with the ubiquitous orange squash! If you are visiting your friend or family member on a hot summer day, brace yourself for the cold, sugary, orange squash.
5. Summer circus spectacle!
Betit Group on Dribbble
Life in India was less complicated before the smartphones, televisions, and Internet hijacked our lives. In most towns and villages, the circus was a prime attraction in summer. How do you know you had the circus in town? They usually have a powerful spotlight beam illuminating the night sky and they also had mobile ad vans inviting everyone to attend the show. This artwork is a beautiful, cliched, and funny representation of what you might not actually see.
6. Indian summer and the Indian family
Shylesh on Dribbble
The best memories from childhood are summers and spending time with the grandparents during summer holidays. As joint-families are waning, grandparents look forward to meeting their grandkids and children love to be pampered. With no school or classes to attend to (if you ignore the zealous parents who are hell bent on keeping children busy with summer classes or summer camps), the bond between the children and their grandparents takes root with every summer vacation.
7. Summer travel and food – the dynamic duo!
Riya Mahajan on Behance
Romantic train journeys during summer are complete only when you taste the local cuisine and food items from the hard to ignore hawkers at every railway station across the length and breadth of the country. This amazing artwork chronicles the food items that you will come across when you travel from Mumbai to Madgaon. Click no the image to learn more about the artwork.
8. No Indian summer is complete without the gola cart!
Ranganath Krishnamani on Dribbble
If there is one thing that is not good for you, but you enjoy it anyways, it’s the colorful shaved ice sold by street vendors. Indian summer is not complete without stopping to enjoy the obligatory roadside sin! This artist has created a jaw-dropping illustration of the “gola cart” that will bring back moments of pure bliss you might have enjoyed smack in the middle of a scorching Indian summer. Click on the image to learn more.
9. The sweet sugarcane juice stall
Ranganath Krishnamani on Dribbble
A far healthier alternative to the gola cart is the sugarcane juice. You will notice that this cart has a motor to drive the presser. But this was not the case in the past. The juicer was powered by the vendor or his family members! The giant wheels had a handle and the juice was literally hand pressed.
10. The tender coconut seller on the beach
Ranganath Krishnamani on Dribbble
Moving on to a healthier option to deal with the Indian summer, check out the amazing artwork of a vendor selling coconuts. You will find them even now going around the town on a hot summer day. Their sturdy cycles seem to defy physics to lug around three dozen heavy coconuts with the sickle neatly slotted into the handlebar. Click on the image to find out more about the artist.
11. Indian summer is IPL time!
Ankur Patar on Behance
Last but not the least, Indian summers and cricket are brothers in arms. What do children do during summer holidays? They play cricket! With IPL dominating the summer season in India, cricket will probably rank among the top entertainment options available for Indians in the summer. This artwork shows Dhoni wielding his bat nonchalantly. Just look closely at the background as well.
The history of laddu in India dates back to several centuries and, even today, the laddu rules the roost when it comes to India’s preference for sweets. The long history of laddu in India explains the mind-boggling varieties as every region of India has it’s own take on laddus as dictated by the local availability of ingredients. There are only two things in common across all types of laddus you will find in India – They are all round and sweet!
Across India, the laddu is invariably an integral part of the wedding ceremony. Boxes of laddus get exchanged as soon as the engagement is announced, some wedding invitation comes with a box of laddus or laddus are served as a part of the wedding feast. But the culture of distributing laddus to express happiness goes beyond weddings. Birth of a baby, buying a new car, getting a promotion, you name any happy occasion and laddu immediately comes to your mind!
We unearthed five interesting stories on the history of laddu in India. Don’t read this article if you are a diabetic!
1. Laddus first came to be used as medicines!
This interesting article published by the Indian Express charts the transformation of Laddus from being used as a medicine to becoming the most popular sweet across India (arguably). Here are some extracts from this article that highlights interesting stories about the history of laddu (Believe these stories at your own risk!).
The origin of this laddoo was more because of the medicinal properties that the ingredients used proffered than as a sweet. It is said that these laddoos were given to teenage girls to keep their raging hormones under check. In fact, treatment, and not the indulgence led to the discovery of some of the popular laddoos including methi, makhana and sonth.
Eastern folklore often talks about the accidental discovery of the laddoo when a Ved’s (medicine man) assistant to cover up the extra ghee he poured in a mix turned them into small roundels that eventually took the shape of the smooth egg shape balls we see today. Was it the real way how laddoos were invented? While there no credible source that supports this story, Ayurvedic scripts are replete with recipes that can be considered the first iteration of the laddoos.
One of the earliest examples of this was of sesame seeds, jaggery, and peanuts, which we all know as til ke ladoo. It is said that around 4BC legendary surgeon Susruta The Elder began using this as an antiseptic to treat his surgical patients. For easier consumption, the sesame seeds were coated with jaggery or honey and shaped into a ball.
The ancient legend of Gilgamesh mentions Enkidu’s diet as consisting of, among other interesting things, worms, figs, cucumbers, honey and bread made of sesame flour, which was again made into a roundel or a laddoo so that he could have it with ease.
Lord Krishna’s mother had made an offering of modaka (steamed rice flour dumpling stuffed with jaggery / sugar and coconut shavings) for a Ganesha idol. Wary of her son’s thieving ways, she tied Krishna’s hands. Lord Ganesha did not like this at all! Apparently, the idol came to life and lifted the sweet with his trunk and fed baby Krishna!
Now comes the confusion! According to another version of the story, Lord Ganesha actually fed laddus. In Sanskrit languages, modaka referred to what we know as laddu!
3. When did the Tirupati temple start selling laddus?
Any blog post on the history of laddu will be incomplete if it doesn’t include the famous Tirupati laddus! The Balaji Temple in Tirupati started offering Laddus as an offering to the God as early as August 2nd, 1715! That makes this famous offering over 300 years old!
Asthanam Laddu: This type of laddu is prepared for the high and the mighty (Aka politicians, and officials) Each laddu weighs 750 grams and has liberal quantities of ghee (clarified butter), cashew, almonds, and saffron.
Kalyanotsavam Laddu: This laddu is distributed to those that take part in special religious ceremonies and cost Rs.100 per laddu.
Proktham Laddu: This is a small laddu that most pilgrims get and weighs about 175 grams.
4. Tirupati laddus can be only made in Tirupati!
Who said God and commercial ventures aren’t compatible? Another landmark event in the history of laddu is the fact that the famous Tirupati laddu has acquired the Geographical Indication (GI) tag. The purpose of issuing the GI tag is to preserve collective community rights.
This was a controversial move as some people felt that the Tirupati laddu was a money spinner for the temple and was not made by the local community. However, the courts decided to grant the GI tag in early 2014 and the naysayers lost.
October 11, 2015, is not much of a history in term of time frame. However, it is a date from our recent past that brings to focus the role of laddus in gender equality.
The Pink Ladoo initiative was launched in the UK to coincide with the International day of the girl child. The initiative aims to bring in a sense of equality when a new baby is born. It is a South Asian custom to celebrate the birth of a baby boy by distributing laddus while there is no such practice to celebrate the birth of a baby girl.
So how does this initiative promote gender equality? They distribute pink laddus to celebrate the birth of a girl child.
PS: One of the reasons for the popularity of laddus is the versatility that its recipe offers. Motichoor laddu, besan laddu, rava laddu, sesame laddu, dry fruit laddu, bandar laddu are just some of the varieties!
Food lovers are known to do the craziest things possible to satisfy their passion. They will be the first ones to try new restaurants or try out adventurous and sometimes weird food items that “normal” people will frown upon.
People think that food lovers are crazy. Just check out this video and you will get the idea!
Food lovers a savour every moment of their lives and use food as a means to carry forward age old traditions and reaffirm their pride in their cultural roots which are primarily based on food.
We don’t have to point out that all nations and cultures create their own identity through food. There are special dishes we prepare during festivals and holidays, the five-course meal we prepare to welcome special guests or the basic food we feed our loved ones when they fall sick.
Food Lovers are opinionated
Food lovers have a unique perspective of places and things around them based on food! They associate some places with fond memories because they had something wonderful to eat while they may despise other places because their taste buds did not agree!
Zomato created a map of India according to a Delhi foodie and it is truly hilarious!
The only real competition food has in the matters of finding love is from the auntie network! The auntie network is more fanatical than Greenpeace when it comes to getting single people married. But seriously, food is the best unifying factor when it comes to relationships.
But seriously, food is the best unifying factor when it comes to relationships. Dr.Helen Fisher, a renowned biological anthropologist at Rutgers University and author of Why We Love, says
“Certain foods can have a more subtle yet still significant impact on how amorous you’re feeling.” It is obvious that food is an important ingredient when you are preparing to “cook” a relationship. But, we are not going to talk about preparing the right food to find love. Instead, let’s look at our behaviour around food that is as important as eating the right food!
Finally, to drive home the point that every Indian is indeed a food lover even if you are not a card-carrying “foodie” with an Instagram account to prove your credentials, we have lined up a few fun facts.
1. Food is an integral part of our wedding rituals. Coconut, ghee, rice, sweets are just some of the items that stop being mere ingredients or food items!
2. The love for “desi” food has resulted in a unique trend among non-resident Indians (NRIs) and that’s called a potluck, one of the most popular weekend activities among NRIs.
3. You will find that Indians don’t hesitate sharing food. When you travel in trains or any other mode of transportation, sharing food with your fellow traveller is common.
4. Arranged marriage first meetings have known to go south because the girl did not have the right skills to make food items that meet the standards defined by the boy’s parents!
5. Indians are secular by nature and that’s because they love food no matter who makes it. Just ask Hindus and Christians who wait for Ramzan drooling at the possibility of getting invited for a feast at their Muslin friend’s homes.
Here is a personal anecdote that shows how people who are not food lovers change for the sake of love!
Natasha, recalls the time when her mother would insist on her learning to cook, to help her survive when she lived alone or with her future husband.
“I tried cooking, but it never really turned out well. But after I fell in love, I noticed a sea change in my culinary skills. I wanted to show my boyfriend how much I loved him, and the only way I could think of expressing it was through food,” she says.
Food and your first date
The problem with food lovers is that we place a little extra importance on food. If food is a make or break deal for you, don’t go to your favourite restaurant for your first date. That’s because chances are your date’s opinion about the food you ordered will assume greater significance than learning about each other!
Don’t believe us? Read what Reader’s Digest said about ‘food and first dates‘. Trust us, this is as good as betting your house and car before you even roll your dice! That’s a lot of unwanted pressure to be in at the very first date.
Be it the first meeting with a boy or a girl that your parents arranged for you or a first date, it’s all about having a conversation and not hating each other. You’ll slowly start liking each other and being okay with each other’s choices. So, no food date or taking them to your favourite places. First dates are best when they happen at a neutral place where you are less likely to trample on each other’s egos.
Falling in love over food, one plate at a time
Well, if food matters to you (we are sure it does!), it probably matters to your potential date too. You didn’t think you are the only one with a choice and an opinion, did you?
It’s a wise strategy not to assume your date’s preferences and choices when it comes to food. Make an effort to find out what he or she likes to eat and their preferences. This can be done by asking them directly (like on the coffee date we suggested) or by stalking them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Taking some extra effort in what your date would be interested in shows consideration and earns you extra brownie points. So be nice and take into consideration what your date might like before you reserve a table.
The mere act of placing your date’s preferences ahead of yours also demonstrates your selflessness and your considerate nature. That’s one more point in your favour. If your date reciprocates your consideration by trying food items that she may have tried before or previously thought were not fit for consumption, you probably have a keeper!
Food is a saviour when dealing with future in-laws!
When meeting family member (or friends) of your love interest, make sure you do it in a café or restaurant so that you can use food to deal with awkward silences. Food also comes in handy to start a new conversation when you run out of topics. And somehow, being around food brings out the food tales that everyone loves to share.
If you are going to their home, take a box of doughnuts or sweets or cookies with you. Everyone appreciates a visitor that brings shows such sweetness.
Didn’t you like it when some distant uncle brought some chocolates whenever they visited you? Yeah, that part of us never grows up.
Your behaviour around food predicts your life ahead
Going on dates or even taking your spouse on dates immediately after marriage is a given and being a food lover, a restaurant is probably always in the plan for your date night. It’s important to be prepared for all eventualities. It’s always a great idea to let your partner know that it’s your favourite restaurant so that they know not to say harsh words. Also, don’t raise their expectations about your restaurant to a level that the food cannot match.
If you are being taken to your partner’s favourite place, always be gentle and honest about your opinions. If you don’t like it, lay it down gently. Don’t be mean or rude. Instead, try to look for the things that you like. Food bonds people, yes and this is one of the crucial moments that decides if you have the ability to bond for the long term!
Ready to write your own ‘food’ love story?
Food invokes a primal reaction among us that goes well beyond satisfying our hunger. Food is strongly connected to memories, places, people and hence love.
Off all the food quotes, we love this food quote attributed to George Bernard Shaw.
The growing culture of eating out, online food magazines that promote unique cuisine and restaurant review apps point to a thriving food scene and an equally vibrant community of food lovers in India.
If you are looking to find a soulmate who also happens to be a foodie, you have plenty of options to find that special someone.
1. Join the local foodie meetup in your city.
Meetups are a great way to connect with fellow foodies!
2. Join cooking classes! We bet there are plenty of them in your city.
Join cooking classes to meet like minded people.
3. Get active in restaurant review sites and Facebook groups. You never know who you will meet!
Contributing the foodie community is a great way to develop a “fan” following!
4. Food lovers love social media. Be it Pinterest, Instagram, Quora or Facebook, food lovers are everywhere! Make sure you are where they are!
Social media is the home turf for food lovers.
A key to finding your soulmate is to not become desperate and expect every interaction to turn into a love story! Just focus on your passion, i.e your love for food and let love happen naturally.
Food is a saviour when it comes to breaking the ice and meeting people. When you are about to start a new relationship, be sure to bank on your love for food. But, also be mindful of how you use food in your quest to seal the deal.