Diwali Sweets

Diwali is a festival not just for lights, lamps and firecrackers, but for some mouth-watering delights as well. Each region of India has its own traditional variety of sweets and cuisines made specifically for this festival. So, for your dining pleasure we have collected these sweets recipes from the different states of India. It is a way of spreading joy and goodwill among both the givers and the receivers of these delights.

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(Sweetened yogurt with saffron)

Serves 6-8

2 cups plain yogurt (20 fl. oz.)

1 Tbsp warm milk

tsp saffron

tsp elaichi (cardamom) powder

cup sugar

2 tbsp raw pistachio nuts, skinned and chopped

1. Put the yogurt in a muslin bag and hand it up for 4-5 hours to drain whey. Soak saffron in milk for 30 minutes. Whisk the drained yogurt, sugar, saffron milk, and cardamom together until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Put in a dish and chill until set. Garnish with the nuts.

Cucumber Cake

Serves 4-6

2 Tbsp ghee (clarified butter)**

1 lb cream of wheat

1 lb cucumber (peeled and grated)

lb jaggery*

1/8 tsp sugar

cup cashews, finely chopped

6-8 cardamoms, peeled and powdered

grated coconut.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Fry cream of wheat in 2 Tbsp. ghee until light brown. Add grated cucumber, jaggery, sugar, cashews, cardamom powder and 1 Tbsp of ghee. Mix well. Pour in greased pan and bake for 30-45 minutes in oven, until nicely browned.


(Whole wheat pudding)

Serves 4-5

1 oz. of chapati dough

cup all purpose flour

1 gallon milk

cup sugar cardamom seeds*

few strands of saffron

(kesar), dissolved in 1 tsp milk

2-3 drops of Rose water

1. Shape the chapathi dough into rice grains by rubbing small bits of dough between thumb and forefinger (with the help of a little dry flour). Pithouries formed.

2. Meanwhile put milk in a microwaveable container and heat in the microwave on medium power for 45 minutes. Stirring occasionally. Add the rice shaped pithouries to boiled milk.

3. Continue cooking milk mixture until it becomes thick and creamy. About 20 minutes. Cool,

Add sugar and remaining ingredients. Chill completely in the refrigerator before serving.


Serves 6-8

1 lb. Ricotta cheese

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. cardamom powder*

1. Knead cheese into a fine, smooth paste. In a wok over low heat, cook cheese and sugar, stirring continuously. When sugar has melted and cheese starts leaving sides add cardamom powder.

2. Remove from heat. While still warm, divide into 25-30 portions. Mold each portion into desired shape. Serve at room temperature.


(Indian funnel cake)

Serves 6-8

2 cups of skinned urad dal.

1 cups of water

pinch of salt

oil for frying

6 inch square piece of cheese cloth/cake decorating bag

3 cups of sugar

tsp saffron

orange food coloring

vegetable shortening for frying

1. Soak the dal in water for 4-5 hours. Drain. Grind the dal with very little water, to a fine paste, add a pinch of salt.

2. Heat oil in a deep pan on medium heat. Make a small hole in the middle of the cloth and stitch to form a round button hole. Put the soft dough in the cloth and gather the four corners and gently squeeze into the hot oil, while moving your wrist to make a flower shape. Fry it until light brown. Remove, drain on a paper towel, and keep it aside. Continue until the dal paste has been used up.

3. Bring water to boil in a medium sized saucepan. Add sugar and let it melt. Then boil it for 4 more minutes. Check consistency by taking a little syrup in between 2 fingers, the fingers should separate easily and syrup should form one string, otherwise cook a little longer. Do not overcook the syrup. Add saffron and orange color to the syrup. Stir. Dip fried jhangries in warm syrup and soak for 2 minutes. Remove from syrup and arrange in a plate. Can be served at room temperature.

Kheer Mohan

(Stuffed cheese balls)

Makes about 20 balls

Paneer** of 1 gallon milk

cup khoya** ?

cup mixed nuts, crushed (almonds, pistachio, cashews and currants)

seeds of 2 cardamoms, crushed


4 cups sugar

4 cup water

4 strings of saffron* seeds of 2 cardamoms*

1. For filling mix khoya, crushed nuts and cardamoms. Set aside.

2. Divide paneer into 20 equal portions. Shape into balls. Make a well in the center of cheese ball and fill with tsp of filling. Close well opening with surrounding paneer. Balls should be smooth. Repeat the above process until all the cheese and filling are used up.

3. Make syrup by bringing all the syrup ingredients to boil, in a large saucepan. Boil for 12 minutes on medium heat. Put cheese balls into syrup. Cover and lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Cool.

4. Serve at room temperature.

Pal Poli

(Crepes in milk)

Serves 16

3 cups all-purpose flour

water to make a firm elastic dough

1 quart milk

1 cup sugar

10 cardamoms, powdered

tsp saffron, soaked in hot water

oil for deep frying

almonds, shredded and fried

1. Make a firm dough with floor and water. Cover and set aside.

2. Boil milk in a heavy saucepan and keep simmering until thickened and reduced. Add sugar, cardamom and saffron.

3. Meanwhile, divide the dough into 1 to 1- inch-diameter balls and, using flour to dust the board, roll out into a thin 6" round. Fold in half and seal edge with water. Deep fry in hot oil. Drain on paper towel. Poli made.

4. Place polis in a shallow dish. Pour the hot milk over the polis and garnish with almonds. This dessert can be served hot or cold.

China Grass

(Agar-agar pudding)

Serves 4-6

2 Tbsp china grass (agar-agar)

cup water

1 cup whole milk

seeds of 2 cardamoms crushed

2-3 drops of rose water

3-4 drops of food color

6 tsp sugar

With a pair of scissors cut the china grass into 2 inch pieces. Put china grass and water in a large saucepan and cook on the medium heat. Cook until the chine grass melts (about 10 minutes).

Add milk and cardamoms and cook for another 5 minutes. Cool. Then add rose water and food color. Stir well. Pour contents onto a cookie sheet. Garnish with nuts. Refrigerate to set (about 2 hours).


(Cream of wheat cake)

Serves 6-8
1 cup cream of wheat

cup shortening

egg replacer for 4 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup sugar

2 cups coconut milk, extracted from a fresh coconut

4-6 strands of saffron, dissolved in 1 Tbsp warm milk

1. Roast the cream of wheat in 2 Tbsp shortening. Add the beaten egg replacer, sugar, coconut milk (keeping 4 Tbsp of coconut milk aside) and saffron. Set aside. Heat the remaining shortening.

Remove from heat and stir in the cream of wheat mixture. Heat the mixture again, and stir until it thickens.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put the above mixture into 19" pie dish. Pour the 4 Tbsp of coconut milk on top. Bake a crisp golden brown. Approximately 20 minutes. Cool. Serve.


(Home made ice creams with bean strings)

Serves 10-12

1 gallon whole milk

2-3 cardamoms seeds crushed

cup almonds and pistachio nuts coarsely chopped

tsp saffron, dissolved in 2 Tbsp of milk

1 14 oz. can condensed milk

8 cups water

2 oz. bean thread (falooda)

4 drops yellow food color

4 Tbsp sugar

cup Rooh Afsa (rose syrup)


10 ice cubes, crushed

In a large thick bottomed saucepan, boil milk, on medium heat. Keep boiling milk until it reduces to gallon. Stir frequently so that no milk sticks to the bottom of a the pan. Add cardamoms, saffron and nuts.

Cook for 5 more minutes. Then add, condensed milk, Stir and remove from heat. Cool. Put in Kulfi molds (or popsicle molds). Freeze overnight to set.

In another saucepan, boil 8 cups of water. Add food color and sugar and bean threads. Cover and turn off stove. Cool to room temperature.

To serve

Remove kulfi from mold. Slice with a sharp warm knife. On individual serving dishes, put sliced kulfi, cover with a little falooda. Cover falooda with crushed ice and add 4-5 drops of Rooh Afsa to the crushed ice.

Gul Gulay

(Fried Indian Donuts)

Makes 30 balls

2 cups sugar

1 cups water

juice of 2 lemon

cup baking soda

1 ripe banana-optional

2 cups all purpose flour

oil for frying

1. In a medium saucepan bring sugar and water to a boil. Add lemon juice and continue boiling for about 7 minutes. Dissolve baking soda in 2 Tbsp sugar syrup. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl sieve flour. To flour add liquid baking soda. Stir 2 cup of syrup at a time into flour. Mix well in between. Continue until a thick batter is formed. (If banana is being used mash and add to batter). Set aside for 1 hour.

3. Heat oil in wok. Fry by dropping tablespoonfuls of batter into hot oil. Remove with slotted spoon. Drain on a paper towel.

Serve hot.

The above recipes are from the Book DAVAT (A Grand Feast from India) courtesy of

the Association of Asian Women in Ohio

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More Diwali Sweets


Almond Diyas

200 gms. almonds, soaked and peeled,

120 gms of powdered sugar,

a few drops of yellow color,


1. Grind the almonds to a very fine paste. Mix sugar and almond paste in a heavy pan.

2. Cook on low flame, stirring continuously. Take care that the paste does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Cook till the paste begins to leave the sides. Remove from the stove and allow to cool till mixture can be handled.

3. Divide the mixture into two equal portions. Add yellow color to half and mix well. Shape into diyas (large, flat teardrop shapes) either freehand or with help of a mold. Fill the center with the yellow mixture, smooth the surface with the back of a spoon. Cover the outer surface with silver foil, or decorate as desired. Allow to dry well or refrigerate until well set.




Coconut Diyas

4 cups of desiccated coconut,

1 tin of condensed milk,

1 tsp. butter or ghee,

1/2 tsp. cardamom powder


1. Pour condensed milk into a nonstick or heavy bottom pan. Add 3 1/2 cups of coconut, mix well. Cook on low heat, stirring continuously till mixture leaves side of pan. Cool till it can be shaped by hand.

2. Grease palms with butter. Roll portions of mixture into pingpong sized balls. Shape carefully into diyas with a depression and mouth for the wick. Coat with leftover dry coconut powder to help handling. Place a thin long sliver of almond or pista at the mouth for wick. Decorate as desired. Chill to firm the shape.




Badam Katli

250 gms. almonds, soaked overnight or for at least 4 hours,

200 gms. sugar, powdered,

a few tbsp. of milk,

silver foil,

a pinch of saffron,


1. Peel almonds and set aside. Wash and remove any trace of brownishness. Grind to a fine paste, using as little milk as possible.

2. In a heavy, large skillet, mix the almond paste and powdered sugar. Cook on a low flame, stirring continuously, using a large spoon or spatula. Take care that the mixture does not stick to the bottom of the pan.

3. When the paste begins to leave the sides of the pan, take it off the stove. Add saffron and mix well. Grease a plate with a little ghee, pour the mixture in it, let it even out. If small lumps appear, settle the plate so that the mixture evens out. Do not use a spoon or spatula to even out the mixture.

4. The katli can now be decorated with a silver foil. Mark out diamond shapes with a greased knife. Allow to cool. When almost cool, remove carefully with a sharp edge knife. Let it cool completely before storing in butter paper.




Motichoor Laddu

3 cups gram flour,

2 cups water,

4 cups sugar,

3 tbsp rice flour,

oil for frying.


1. Mix gram flour and water to a smooth thick batter. Put water in a large bowl and keep it handy.

2. Heat oil in a kadai and line it with a strainer that fits in neatly. Using a slotted spoon, gently tap the gram flour batter through the holes into the oil.

3. When done, lift the strainer with the fried boondi and drop on paper towels to drain out the excess oil. Quickly dip the boondis in the bowl full of water kept ready and remove. Wipe the strainer dry, before tapping the next batch. When all the boondis are ready, bring water and sugar to a boil to obtain a syrup of soft ball consistency. Take 3 tbsp of the syrup, heat it in a thick-bottomed pan till frothy. Add the boondis and stir the mixture till it begins to leave the sides of the pan. While still warm, shape a little of the mixture into a laddu. Coat your hands with rice flour or corn flour for easier handling.  




Badam Ka Seera

1 1/2 cup of almonds, soaked overnight,

3 cups of hot milk,

250 gm of ghee,

1/3 to 1/2 cup of sugar,


1. Peel the almonds, wash and grind to fine paste. Heat the ghee in a heavy pan.

2. Add paste and cook on first high then low flame, stirring continuously. Allow the paste to turn light brown in color.

3. When the paste begins to give out a pleasant aroma, mix in the hot milk and stir with a long-handled spatula, since the mixture tends to splatter. As the mixture begins to thicken, add the sugar and cook, stirring continuously and gently till ghee begins to separate. Decorate with chopped nuts and serve hot.




Anarsa or Mitha Khaja

1 1/2 cup rice flour,

1/2 cup jaggery,

1 cup water,

1/4 tbsp cardamom powder,

3-4 tbsp poppy seeds or khus khus,

250 gms ghee for frying


1. Heat water in a pan and dissolve jaggery to make well. Strain and set aside to cool.

2. Add cardamom powder and ghee to the flour and knead the flour with jaggery water till the dough becomes stiff. 

3. Divide into 24 to 25 small portions, knead and roll it into 4" discs. Sprinkle poppy seeds on the discs. Set aside and allow them to dry a little.

4. Deep fry in ghee till the discs turn golden yellow. Cool the khajas till these become crisper. Serve or store in an airtight container.





2 cups gram flour (besan),

1/2 tsp. ajwain (omam) seeds,

1 1/2 tsp. red chilli powder,

1 tbsp. oil,

Salt to taste,

2-3 pinches of asafoetida,

Water to make dough,

Oil to deep fry.


1. Mix the chilli, oil, salt, and ajwain into the flour. Add enough water to make dough. It should not be pliable but sticky.

2. Grease the inside of a sev-press and fill with the dough. Press into hot oil, and fry lightly on both sides. Drain well and cool before storing. One can omit the chilli powder to make the sev bland. Or one can also add finely crushed dried mint to add flavor to the sev.


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