Indian Vegetarian Recipes (Collection #4: Sweets)

Jelebi (Deep Fried Batter Sweets)

Categories: Desserts, Indian

Yield: 4 servings


  • 2 c Plain flour
  • 1/2 c Rice flour
  • 7 g Fresh compressed yeast or 1/2 t Dried yeast
  • 1/2 c Lukewarm water
  • 1/4 t Saffron strands
  • 2 T Boiling water
  • 1 T Yoghurt
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Syrup

  • 3 c Sugar
  • 3 c Water
  • 1 T Light corn syrup
  • Rose essence to flavour
  • 1 1/2 t Liquid orange food colouring
  • Sift the flour and rice flour into a large bowl. Sprinkle yeast on the warm water in a small bowl, leave to soften for 5 minutes and stir to dissolve. Put saffron strands in a cup and pour the boiling water over. Leave to soak for 10 minutes.

    Pour dissolved yeast and saffron with its soaking water into a measuring jug. Add tepid water to make up 2 1/4 cups. Stirring with a wooden spoon, add the measured liquid to the flour and beat well until batter is very smooth. Add yoghurt and beat again. Leave to rest for 1 hour. Batter will start to become frothy. Beat vigorously again before starting to fry jelebis. (While batter stands make syrup and leave it to become just warm).

    Heat vegetable oil in a deep frying pan and when hot use a funnel to pour in the batter, making circles or figures of eight. Frying, turning once, until crisp and golden on both sides. Lift out on a slotted spoon, let the oil drain for a fews seconds, then drop the hot jelebi into the syrup and soak it for a minute or two. Lift out of the syrup (using another slotted spoon) and put on a plate to drain.

    Syrup: Heat sugar and water over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Raise heat and boil hard for 8 minutes; syrup should be just thick enough to spin a thread. Remove from heat, allow to cool until lukewarm, flavour with rose essence (about 1.2 tsp of good quality essence is sufficient) and colour a bright orange with food colouring.

    *Jelebis are coils of crisply fried batter with a rose-scented syrup inside the coils. How the syrup gets into the coils is a mystery unless you do some research on the subject.

    This is a traditionally festive sweet. (Moghul custom)

    Gulab Jamun (Rose Sweets)

    Categories: Desserts, Indian

    Yield: 6 servings

  • 8 T Full cream milk powder
  • 3 T Self-raising flour
  • 1/4 t Bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 t Ground cardamom
  • 1 T Soft butter or ghee
  • 3 T Water (approx.)
  • Ghee or oil for frying

  • 2 c White sugar
  • 4 c Water
  • 5 Bruised cardamom pods
  • 2 T Rose water or few drops rose Essence
  • Sift milk powder, flour, bicarbonate of soda and ground cardamom into large bowl. Rob in butter or ghee, then add enough water to give a firm but pliable dough which can be moulded into balls the size of large marble, or into small sausage shapes.

    Fry slowly in hot ghee until they turn the colour of unblanched almonds. The frying must be done over gentle heat. Drain on absorbent paper.

    Have ready the syrup, made by combining, sugar, water and cardamom pods and heating until sugar is dissolved. Put the fried gulab jamun into the syrup and soak until they are almost double in size, and soft and spongy. Add rose water when they have cooled slightly. Allow to cool completely and serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

    Seviyan (Sweet Vermicelli)

    Categories: Desserts, Indian

    Yield: 4 servings

  • 1 1/2 T Ghee
  • 125 g Fine vermicelli
  • 1 1/2 c Hot water
  • 1/4 t Saffron strands
  • 1/2 c Sugar
  • 2 T Sultanas
  • 2 T Slivered blanched almonds
  • 1/8 t Ground cardamom
  • Break the vermicelli into small pieces less than 2.5cm (1 inch) in length. They need not be uniform, but longer pieces make stirring difficult.

    Heat ghee in a heavy saucepan and fry the vermicelli intil golden brown, stirring so it colours evenly. Add hot water and saffron and bring to the boil, then turn heat low, cover and simmer gently until vermicelli is cooked. Add sugar and sultanas and cook uncovered until liquid is absorbed. Stir in the almonds and cardamom, stir well and serve warm with cream.

    Barfi Badam (Almond Cream Sweetmeat)

    Categories: Desserts, Indian

    Yield: 16 pieces

  • 4 c Milk
  • 3/4 c Sugar
  • 125 g Blanched almonds, pulverised In blender, or 1 cup ground Almonds
  • Pinch of ground cardamom
  • 2 T Blanched pistachio nuts
  • Edible silver leaf-optional
  • In a heavy-based saucepan or large frying pan boil the milk over fairly high heat, stirring all the time, until it is reduced and very thick. Add sugar and stir for 10 minutes on low heat. Add the ground almonds and continue to cook and stir until the mixture comes away from sides and base of pan in one mass. Remove from heat, sprinkle cardamom over and mix well. Turn on to a greased plate. Smooth top with back of butter spoon. Cool slightly, mark in diamond shapes with knife and decorate with halved pistachio nuts and sliver leaf.

    Before it is quite firm cut with sharp knife along the markings then leave to get quite cold before separating into pieces.

    Rassogolla (Cheese Balls in Syrup)

    Categories: Desserts, Indian

    Yield: 4 servings

  • 300 g Paneer
  • 175 g Ricotta cheese
  • 350 g Sugar
  • 1 1/4 l Water
  • Rub the paneer and ricotta cheese with palm of your hand until smooth and creamy. Divide into 16 balls.

    Boil the sugar and water for 5 minutes over medium heat. Put the balls into the syrup and boil for 40 minutes.

    Cover and continue to boil for another 30 minutes. Serve warm or cold.

    Paneer (Home-made cottage cheese)

  • 3.5 litres milk
  • about 250 ml warm water
  • about 5 Tbsp white vinegar
    1. Bring the milk to the boil, stirring constantly, over a high heat. Remove from heat.
    2. Combine the water and vinegar.
    3. Slowly add the vinegar solution to the boiled milk, stirring with a wooden spoon. As soon as the milk curdles, do not add any more. (The curd and whey will separate.)
    4. Place three or four layers of cheesecloth in a sieve and strain the curdled milk through them. Ties up the ends of the cheesecloth and squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible. Hang it up to drain thoroughly.

    Note: When adding the water and vinegar mixture to the milk, do not add more than necessary as this tends to harden the paneer.

    These first several all from:

    	I. Chaudhary

    Kheer (Vermicelli Pudding)

    Recipe from Dalbir Chadda:

    This has been my all time favorite dessert. Ever since I was very little, I can remember asking for seconds and thirds. What makes this dessert unusual is that it is not as sweet as most Indian desserts. It is fairly simple to make. Make sure that the vermicelli is very fine (angel hair pasta is ok but the very fine vermicelli that can be bought at chinese stores is the best).


  • 1 stick Butter
  • 2 handfuls Very fine vermicelli
  • 4 cups Milk
  • 1 pint Whipping cream
  • 1 handful Raisins
  • 3 tblsp Sugar
  • 4 Almonds (optional) peeled and thinly sliced
  • Method:

    Melt butter in a 4 qt pot. Break vermicelli into 3" pieces. Over low heat stir vermicelli into butter until it turns light brown. Pour in the milk and stir over medium heat until it boils. Put in the raisins, almonds and sugar.

    Continue to cook under low heat for 10 minutes. Add whipping cream and continue to cook for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat and, when cool, chill in the refrigerator before serving

    Rice Flour Pudding

    (6 servings)


  • 4 1/2 c Milk
  • 3/4 c Sugar
  • 2 oz Rice flour
  • 6-8 drops Rose water
  • 1 oz Almonds
  • 1/2 oz Pistachio nuts
  • Method:

    Blanch (optional) and shred nuts. Mix rice flour into the milk and mix until smooth. Cook over medium heat until a creamy consistency is achieved (20-30 minutes?). Simmer and add sugar and stir for 2-3 minutes more.

    Cool (in refrigerator for 30 minute) add the rose water, almonds and pistachios (maybe before it cools). Pour into individual dishes and serve.

    Besan Burfi


  • 1 c Besan
  • 1 c Shortening
  • 1 c Sugar
  • 4 seeds Cardamom
  • Nuts (optional)
  • Method:

    Melt shortening in a pan. Turn down heat and add cardamom and Besan. Fry, stirring constantly to prevent burning until it has changed to a brown color and smells done. (Test: a few drops of water sprinkled on it sputters instantly).

    Turn off the heat and stir in the sugar. Spread 1/2" thick onto a platter. Cut into diamond shapes after it has cooled down.



  • 1/2 c Rice
  • 4 c Milk
  • 1/4 c Raisins
  • 3/4-1 c Sugar
  • 1 t Cardamom seeds
  • 1/4 c Shredded blanched almonds
  • 6-8 drops Rose water
  • 1/2 c Water
  • Method:

    Wash and drain the rice. Soak in 1/2 c water for 1/2 hour. Boil the rice in the same water until it is coated and the water dries up. Add the milk and simmer on low heat for 1 1/2 hours.

    Scrape the sides and bottom frequently to prevent sticking and mash rice while stirring. When it is creamy, add sugar and stir in well. Remove from heat and add crushed cardamom seeds, rose water and shredded almonds.

    Serve hot or cold decorated with silver leaves (optional). [Silver leaves are VERY FINE, tasteless sheets of silver.]

    Gulab Jamuns (easy method)


  • 1 c Bisquick
  • 2 c Carnation powder
  • 2 c Water
  • 1 1/2 c Sugar
  • 4 pods Cardamom
  • few drops Rose water
  • 1/2 stick Butter (4 T)
  • 1/8 c Yogurt
  • Milk
  • Oil for frying
  • Method:

    Heat butter and pour in a bowl. Add Bisquick, carnation powder and yogurt and blend together. Knead well adding milk if necessary. Make a smooth ball, cover and let rest (30 minutes?). Make 12-14 small balls.

    Heat the water, add sugar, bring to boil, add cardamom seeds and simmer. Boil, then simmer to reduce the water by half. Heat the oil until hot and fry the balls to a golden brown or until they are dark brown---almost black.

    Soak in sugar syrup until they double in size (1 hour or overnight). Serve hot or cold.

    Suji Halva (Semolina Halva)

    (4-6 servings)


  • 1/2 c Suji (semolina)
  • 1/2 c Sugar
  • 1/2 c Ghee
  • 1 1/2 c Water
  • 1 oz Sliced almonds
  • 1 oz Raisins
  • 8 Green cardamoms
  • Method:

    Boil sugar and water together for 5 minutes. Heat ghee add suji and stir on low heat until mixture becomes light creamy in color and ghee leaves the side of the pan. Add the syrup and stir briskly until it is absorbed in the semolina. Mix in crushed cardamom seeds, almonds, and raisins. Serve hot.

    Sewian (Vermicelli)


  • 2 c Sewian (vermicelli)
  • 3 1/2 c Milk
  • 3/4 c Sugar
  • 1/4 t Rose water (or 6-8 small cardamom seeds)
  • Ghee
  • Method:

    Fry the sewian in hot oil until golden brown. Heat the milk to boiling and add the sewian. Cook until the milk is reduced by half. Add sugar and cook on low heat until creamy (about 25 minutes). Remove from the heat. Add in rose water. Decorate with blanched finely shredded almonds and pistachio nuts and silver leaves if desired.

    Carrot Halva


  • 4 lbs Carrots
  • 1/2 gal Milk
  • 2 c Sugar
  • 2 c Carnation milk powder
  • 1 c Oil to taste
  • Nuts
  • Method:

    Clean and grate the carrots. Heat milk to boiling and add the carrots. Cook until liquid is almost gone, stirring to prevent sticking and burning (3 to 4 hours). Add oil and cook more, stirring often, to roast the carrots well (about 1/2 hour). Add the powdered milk and sugar and cook until all the liquid is gone and the mass does not stick to the sides. Add the nuts and raisins and turn off the heat. Pour in a serving dish and serve warm or cold. Will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.



  • 1 ltr Homogenized Milk
  • 2 tsp White Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 C Sugar
  • 3 C Water
  • Method:

    Bring the milk to a boil and add vinegar to the boiling milk to separate the whey. Throw away the liquid part by sifting the stuff onto a muslin cloth. Pour some cold water over the curd to cool and wash it. Discard the water and hang the cloth for 15-20 minutes to let the excess water drip off.

    Put the curd in a food processor or blender and blend at high speed to get a smooth consistency. You may add just a little (1 tsp or so) water while blending, if the curd is too dry and will not blend. Be very careful so as not to add any extra water. Remove the paste and make small balls (1-2" in diameter).

    Boil water in a wide vessel. Make sure that there is at least 2-3" of water in the vessel. If not, add more water and increase the quantity of sugar proportionately. Add sugar to the boiling water to make a light syrup.

    Continue boiling the syrup and gently drop the curd balls in the boiling syrup. Cook the balls in the boiling syrup for 30-40 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the stuff cool down. Put the balls and the syrup in a storage container and refrigerate (don't freeze).

    Serve cold.

    Mango Ice Cream

    This is a great desert which can be made with very little effort. You can replace the Mango pulp with any other pureed fruit.


  • 1 can Condensed Milk
  • 12 oz. Whipped cream(Cool whip)
  • 1 can Mango pulp (Alphonso)
  • It is very confusing to describe quantities as 1 can. Well, I do not remember the exact numbers so let me describe the sizes. The Mango pulp can is about 6" high and 3" in diameter. I think it is the only size available in an Indian store. The condensed milk can is about 3" high and about 2.5" in diameter and should be available in your neighbourhood grocery store.


    Mix all of the pulp, condensed milk and whipped cream in a bowl. Put in the freezer for about 8 hours.

    There are no recipes for the kind of sesame halvah that you can buy here. These are more moist, mostly rich, and equally delectable in their way. Some have substantial amounts of protein along with the calories, from nuts and milk.

    This batch of recipes is from The Yogi Cookbook, by Yogi Vithaldas and Susan Roberts, Pyramid Books, 1968 (LCC 68-17117) and long out of print, unfortunately. It is a wonderful vegetarian Indian cookbook.

    I have made all these, using a Cuisinart for the donkey work, although not for a few years. The carrot halvah can be made by a child, with some help.

    Carrot Halvah

    (You will need a heavy saucepan, a kitchen stool and a good but expendable book, as well as the ingredients):

    2 cups washed (scraped if skins are noticeable) carrots: almost puree in Cuisinart, or grate finely.

    2 quarts milk: bring to simmering. Add carrots and cook over low heat, stirring, about 40 minutes. Read book while stirring. Scorching wrecks it.

    2 cups sugar: add to carrot mix, keep stirring until it all dissolves. It should be quite thick by now, almost leaving the pan.

    1/4 cup, 4 Tablespoons, ghee or butter: add and stir until it absorbs.

    Turn it out onto a platter and sprinkle slivered almonds and raw pistachios over it (a frill). Sprinkle a little rosewater over it (another frill). Cut into bite-sized squares. Keeps very well in fridge...

    An Indian restaurant we go to serves a softer Carrot Halvah in a dish at the buffet, to be spooned out for dessert.

    Nutmeat Halvah (Almonds, Pistachios, Cashews)

    1 cup skinned raw nuts (almonds, pistachios, cashews)

    puree with: 1 cup milk.

    To skin nuts, blanch almonds, soak pistachios in cold water 1 hour and rub the skins off --do this in a thin stream of running cool water to get the skins off you. Cashews have no skins... (chestnuts?)

    Boil to a thick paste (about 10 minutes). Then add:

  • 1 cup sugar and
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or butter.
  • Spread on platter and cut in tiny squares as above.

    I have also tasted halvah made with dhal and liked it. I have never made the next two recipes, from the same book:

    Moong Halvah

    You will need a candy thermometer.

    1 cup moong dhal (wash well, puree with water to make a pasty mixture

    1/4 lb butter (1 cube) --heat in deep pan. When it bubbles, add the moong paste and stir and fry until golden brown. Set aside.

    1 cup sugar

    1 cup water: cook together to 204 degrees F.

    Pour the syrup over the fried beans and stir very well. Pour onto platter and cut, as above; decorate with almond halves etc.

    Coconut Halvah

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh coconut: grate very fine and mix with:
  • 1 1/2 cups milk. Bring to boil, simmer 1/2 hour (stir frequently). Add
  • 1 cup sugar: keep cooking, stir constantly until very thick (15 min)
  • 1 teaspoon crushed cardamom seed --add and stir well.
  • Turn out, sprinkle Rosewater on it, cut.

    (I think I did make this once, with dried unsweetened coconut, health food market quality, very moist and fresh, and it was quite tasty.)


    "We call Ladu "Brain Tonic"... the Yogi says...

    it's not exactly halvah but more like it than anything else - there is something tricky about it, I think that it won't shape into balls as easily as the recipe would have you think. Another recipe you can make with a child (be sure the mix is quite cool before letting yours handle it).

    4 tablespoons butter (1/2 cube): Melt. Add:

    1 cup chickpea flour (from Indian or Health Food store).

    Stir in heavy pan until it browns --about 10 minutes. Add 1 cup sugar -- stir until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat.

    When cool enough to handle form into small balls, about 15 of them (that should be about a tablespoon per ball).

    The following recipes are from "Indian Cookery" by Daramjit Singh, Penguin, 1970, a wonderful book which makes you understand not just recipes but the styles and "architecture" (author's word) of classic Indian cooking. I havn't tried them but anything I ever made from this book was outstanding. The authors consider that 8 ounces of sugar equals one 8 oz cup, which I doubt. However, I left it at that as the bananas, carrots, etc will vary in sweetness and the difference is unlikely to be enough to throw off the texture, which depends on cooking. These Halvahs are evidently meant to be served in bowls from which a portion is spooned out.

    Pumpkin Halvah

    (I think the wonderful dry sweet Kabocha squash would be ideal for this)

    You need about 1 lb of prepared squash or pumpkin. Peel (I use potato peeler and keep going over it until the green is gone), remove seeds, scrape seed cavity, and grate the squash. Weigh out 1 lb. Dry it out in a heavy pan.


  • 1 lb sugar (brown): stir and cook until stiff, then moisten with:
  • 5 fl. oz milk (1/4 English pint or scant 3/4 cup) and
  • 2 oz butter (1/2 cube): cook until it leaves the pan.
  • Add:

  • 2 oz slivered blanched almonds
  • 8 bruised cardamom seeds
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • Turn out into buttered ovenproof dish, smooth with spatula, heat in moderate oven for 10 minutes and serve.

    Since you will weigh the squash you may as well weigh the sugar but the author considers that 2 cups of sugar = 1 lb.

    Banana Halvah

    6 large ripe bananas: peel and slice in 1 inch pieces, fry in 2 oz (1/2 stick) butter for 7 minutes. Mash, then moisten with: 5 tablespoons (a little over 1/4 cup) water. Simmer 3 minutes more.

    Dissolve and add:

  • 2 oz sugar (1/4 cup by this book)
  • 5 oz water (1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons, or betw 2/3 & 3/4 marker)
  • Boil 10-12 minutes, stirring. When thick, turn into a bowl and whisk until smooth and light. Sprinkle with:

  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Ground seeds of 1 cardamom pod
  • Few drops almond essence
  • Almonds
  • Chill before serving.

    "The amount of butter can be varied according to taste. Really, it is necessary only to prevent the banana from sticking or burning. Any surplus can be drained off before cooking in water."

    Singh's Carrot Halvahs

    Gajjar Karrah:

  • (soak 1/4 tsp saffron in a tablespoon boiling water, a good pinch)
  • 1 1/2 lb carrots --grate or puree (raw) Add to:
  • 2 1/2 quarts boiling milk with
  • 1/2 inch stick cinnamon; reduce to less than 1/4, stirring; add:
  • 3 cardamom seeds
  • 2 oz washed raisins (about 1/4 cup)
  • The saffron and water: cook until dry, add:
  • 2 oz butter (1/2 stick); cook and stir until absorbed.
  • Add:

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 oz (3/4 cup) sugar; cook about 8 minutes, until a "rich translucent red".
  • Turn into a bowl and sprinkle over it:

  • 2 oz. blanched slivered almonds (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp rose water (optional).
  • "It may also be served chilled with cream."

    If you could get everything else set up while the carrots and milk started boiling this might not be so daunting as it sounds.

    Karrah Pehlwana (Halvah Titan!)

    You need a candy thermometer or good knowledge of when syrup is at "thread" stage. Also note that you will need one pound of blanched almonds which you are instructed to grind no more than 5 minutes before adding. (Make this recipe, support us almond ranchers!) I cut the recipe in half so you're making a very small amount of syrup which you'll need to watch carefully.

    2 lb carrots: grate or near-puree raw;

    Make a syrup with:

  • 4 oz sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 5 tablespoons (scant 1/3 cup) water
  • Boil to 217 deg. F, thread stage. Add: (or add to...)
  • the carrots and
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground saffron
  • Cook until moisture and syrup dries up. Add:

  • 2 oz (1/2 cube) butter (melt or add bits)
  • 1 lb blanched freshly ground or very finely chopped almonds.
  • "This is an extremely nourishing dish, said to be eaten by wrestlers and strong men in earlier times. It comes from an old Indian cookery book..."