Cross out samosa, kachori, rasgulla and halwa from your party menu. Next time you have a do at home, don’t scamper around looking for finger-food options or poke into bakeries or mithai shops to order boring desserts. Just go through our collection of snacks and sweets from various states and dazzle your guests with your new-found culinary expertise. Initiate their exploration of India through biscuit bhakri from Rajasthan, bafla from Madhya Pradesh, obbattu from Karnataka, hurung from Assam or patudi from Uttarakhand, and watch how your parties go from hum-ho to the most exciting soirées in town.
In a cold climate such as Kashmir’s, richness in food is a given. But in a cuisine of whole spices and a generous dose of red chilli, there are few options for sweets and desserts. The shufta is a rare exception, traditionally prepared during festivals and marriages. A lavish assortment of dry fruits and saffron, shufta’sbasic purpose is to induce heat in the body, so winter might be a good time to try this. (read more)
The Biharis are fond of red meat and keema (minced mutton) is a particular favourite. The keema aloo chop makes for a perfect teatime snack or even a starter, especially for those who are bored with the usual pakodas or fried fare. The semolina coating gives this cutlet a slightly crunchy texture. (read more)
Obbattuor holige occupies an important spot in any festive meal in Karnataka. It can be served with gheeor milk when hot, or even eaten with fruit salad as an accompaniment. The ingredients for the dish change according to the area of the state—while Mangaloreans and Bangaloreans make it with boiled dal (lentils) or jaggery as a stuffing, it is made with grated coconut and jaggery in Udupi district. (read more)
Hurungis a dessert fit for Ahom kings. It is usually eaten after a thali of “royal” food (peppery pigeon meat, mustardy hilsa). It has warm, melted jaggery, thick clotted cream and hurum rice (puffed rice, which is a crispier version of muri). A plebeian version is eaten for breakfast, where the puffed rice is substituted with chira (flat or beaten rice), bora (sticky rice) or sandor guri (ground rice) and doi (sweetened yogurt) or milk for cream. (read more)
Biscuit bhakriis a non-baked version of the traditional cookie. Ideal as an evening snack with saffron milk or sweet tea, this disc of dough can either be sweet, savoury or a mix of both. The best way to consume these is to make bhakrifresh and have them while they are hot, but they can be stored for a couple of days. (read more)
Soru chakuli, literally a thin pancake, is a staple made from ground dal and rice. Quick, light, nutritious, low-cal, vegetarian, even vegan—it is traditionally eaten as a between-the-meals snack. Its heavier and richer cousin is the budha chakuli.But its rustic simplicity makes the soru chakuli more versatile: As a snack, serve it with a dip, or jazz it up with a stuffing of khoya or grated coconut or a khoya-coconut mix and serve it as a dessert. (read more)
A quintessentially mountain dish, the patudi is perfect for those times when you need to rustle up a snack in a hurry. Or you’ve managed to get really good greens, like ones picked fresh from the garden. Quickly done and spicy, this savoury is a healthy alternative to the deep-fried pakodas. The patudis taste especially good with the traditional accompaniment of hing ka achar (green mangoes pickled in asafoetida, salt and red chillies), washed down with a cup of piping hot tea! (read more)
Pitheyis a genre of traditional, home-made dessert that pre-dates the more famous of Bengal’s desserts—sandeshand rasgullas. Made during the month of poush (starting mid-December) on the occasion of Makar Sankranti, most pitheyscontain jaggery and coconut, a way to combat the cold weather. In recent times though, coconut is increasingly being replaced by khoya. The Gokul Pithey is a deep-fried roll, with a coconut and khoyafilling, dipped in sugar syrup. (read more)
The bafla is a whole-grain wheat bread, unleavened, with minimum water, cooked in boiling water like a dumpling. The dough is the same as the Rajasthani bati. The traditional way of preparing crispy deep-fried bafla is from wheat flour mixed with ghee and spices. This is usually made on special occasions. The old-fashioned maharajs, or cooks, still use dried cow dung as fuel because they believe that’s the only way to get the right temperature to cook this. While the standardized samosa, jalebi and peanuts are the common street snacks, bafla blurs the meal borders—it suits any time or mood and, with great versatility, accompanies dal, pickle or curry.
Recipes sourced by Amrita Roy, Arun Janardhan, Komal Sharma, Pavitra Jayaraman, Seema Chowdhry and Shreya Ray.
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