Significance of traditional Indian wedding sweets
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
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
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.
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.
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.
In the book, Handbook of Fermented Functional Foods, Shrikhand is said to have been called Shikhrini in ancient Sanskrit literature. In fact, Shrikhand is said to have been made in Karnataka region as early as 1700 AD!
Need dessert ideas for your wedding reception? Check out Pinterest for a mouthwatering parade of sweets for Indian wedding reception.
5. Gur Paare
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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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