I absolutely know that this is not a design or decor topic, but somethings just need addressing. I am always overwhelmed by the pictures of macaroons on my instagram feed. I wouldn't lie, I love the pastel colors and the very cute effect that comes specially when they are placed carefully on a pristine Wedgwood bone china platter. And who can not fall in love with the box or the aesthetics of Laduree. Even I have a wind-up collectible box from them. But recently I started thinking that it's time we acknowledge and celebrate some of the Indian desserts that have taken the path less trended.
1. Gajar Ka Halwa - The good old days when the maid would just grate five Kgs of carrots in a day in our kitchens on a winter day. I think that this is one of those desserts that is always made right at homes, and never at sweet shops. And who can deny that the brilliant pantone orange looks so chic. A winter must & a summer craving.
2. Ghewar - Once upon a time I never liked it, and then I was made to create a menu for my brother-in-law's destination wedding in Jodhpur. And ghewar was a revelation. How could something so crusty also be so creamy. It's like an Indian Quiche, except that every part is delectable. Also the fact that the purists only make it in monsoon season makes this all the more special. Our favorite is from Kanha Sweets in Jaipur.
3. Patisa / Soan Papdi - Possibly the most delicate of Indian desserts. The true test of a pure Patisa is that if you hold it, it will melt in your hands. My favorite is from this very unassuming and almost forlorn shop (Inder) in an almost forlorn town (Nazibabad). I do think of a time when they would serve patisas individually wrapped in butter paper and then in a vintage tin box or packed like Amaretti. Or on second thoughts, actually it's fine the way it is packed with brown paper.
5. Motichoor Ke Laddoo - Or more specifically, Motichoor Laddoo from Banarasi Sweet shop in Kanpur. If you ever wondered what pure perfection would feel like, take a bite of one of these. A whole box emptied on a silver platter makes the best and the most quintessentially Indian festive aesthetic ever. Any time I have an espresso at cafes, I dream of the day they serve a small saffron motichoor instead of the ubiquitous madeline.
6. Kulfi Falooda - Whoever decided to put noodles on ice cream might have sounded insane, but today we would take a bow to this heretic. Although, it has gotten quite common now, the perfect Kulfi Falooda is a delicate balance of lightly sweet Kulfi and the almost bland Falooda. Our favorite lies at Taj Mahal Palace (Man Singh) room service.
7. Jalebi - I have my phases with this one, but winter weddings call for a thin crisp Jalebi.
8. Phirni - I remember a time when rice pudding became a late night craze in SOHO, NY. They used to have 30 flavors right from cinnamon toast to bitter orange. But the Indian Phirni is no humble rice pudding. Neither is it so sweet nor so blatantly flavored. The subtle elegance of basmati rice and intense saffron make this one of my favorite desserts. And the key to having the best phirni is definitely in an earthen bowl.
9. Rasgulla - The notion is that all Indian desserts are very sweet just like all Indian food is supposedly spicy. Ask anyone who has had a true rasgulla, and they will tell you otherwise. The subtly rosy water concoction in which these most delicate beauties float in, makes the pairing brilliant.
10. Balmithai - I would blame my half Kumaoni roots for this one. If you ever get a chance to get your hands on a fresh piece (they are made every morning), you would have a serious competitor for chocolate.
11. Gujia - This is what compelled me to write this blog post. For only once in a year, these sweet and bland north Indian specials make their appearance. Yes, they are fried and no, they can not be low cal (Just like jalebis), but if you can ration and enjoy them, they are worth the wait.
12. Dussheri Mango - The name says it all. It's like Mr. Bond doesn't need an introduction, neither does this king of fruits from Lucknow. Eat just like the sheer perfection it is, or mix with vanilla ice cream. There is nothing that comes close to this beautiful, majestic, and not enough romanticized treasure.
If you haven't checked your fridge already, congratulations. You have the strongest will power.