Diwali. This is one festival that brings friends and families together across India. It’s the same in most parts of South India from Tamil Nadu to Karnataka to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, where the festival of lights is one of the biggest events on the religious and social calendar. It’s also the time for traditional sweets and savouries that are shared during celebratory meals through the Diwali season. While sweets sourced from sweet shops might dominate the ‘sweetscape’, many sweets are still prepared at home during this season. Check out these traditional South Indian sweets this festive season.
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Here Are 7 Mouth-Watering South Indian Sweets That’ll Light Up Your Diwali Celebrations:
A favourite during festive occasions in parts of Karnataka, this sweet delicacy is also served at weddings and religious functions. The key ingredients in this sweet are maida and chiroti rava or sooji. This is one of the sweets that was made famous by MTR in Bengaluru in the 1950s. It was originally called the ‘French Sweet’ and eventually took its name from the 1954 NTR starrer of the same name (Chandraharam). Back in the 1950s, this trademark MTR dessert was served only on Sundays. A dough with maida and rava is folded into a triangular shape and then fried before being served with sweetened milk.
2. Teepi Gavvalu
The name translates to sweet shells (gavvalu is the Telugu name for Sea shells). It might remind you of the Goan Kalkal, a favourite around Christmas. This sweet is a popular festive option in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. This shell-shaped delicacy requires great skill to prepare. A maida-dough is fashioned into shells and then deep-fried. These shells get a sweet finish with jaggery syrup which is the distinctive element. Some other sweets with fried maida are usually dusted with sugar powder or soaked in sugar syrup. The Teepi Gavvalu gets its mild sweet flavour from the jaggery syrup.
These pillow-shaped deep-fried dumplings are a sweet fix across India. From Karanji in Maharashtra to Gujiya in parts of North India, they are an integral part of India’s sweet landscape. This Andhra-style sweet samosa is typically filled with coconut, nuts and pounded sugar. In Tamil Nadu, they are sometimes called sweet somas or Chandrakala while some versions in Karnataka also include poppy seeds. The Andhra version is also made with jaggery and includes cardamom powder in some homes.
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Kajjaya in Kannada, Ariselu in Telugu, the Adhirasam is deeply embedded in the culinary history of many southern states. This deep-fried sweet treat is essentially a combination of two ingredients – jaggery and rice flour; the flavour is enhanced by the quality of the oil. I’ve always had a predilection for jaggery sweets, one reason this was a regular part of the Diwali sweet mix at home during my childhood.
5. Mysore Pak
Multiple theories exist about the origins of one of South India’s best-known sweets. One back story originates in Ramanagara, a popular stop on the Bengaluru-Mysuru Road. But the story you’re most likely to hear in Mysuru is that Kakasura Madappa, one of the stars in the Mysore Maharaja’s kitchen, invented this sinful treat. It’s essentially three ingredients – ghee, chickpea flour, and sugar, that come together for this delicate sweet with a golden hue. Mysore Pak takes its name from paka the local word for sugar syrup.
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The origin story of the Badusha points to the Mughals who are believed to have brought it to South India. It’s quite similar to the Balushahi, a popular delicacy in many states in Northern India. The Badusha is also similar to Rajasthan’s Makhan Bada which comes with an indent in the centre. The Badusha is slightly different from its Northern Indian cousins when it comes to the textures; it’s less crunchy and is equally soft and flaky.
A popular sweet in Tamil weddings and homes during Diwali, this sweet treat is very similar to the imarti or the Amitti (in Bangladesh). Just like in most parts of India, it often gets confused with a jalebi that is made with a mildly fermented maida batter. Just like the imarti, it’s made with a fermented batter of ground urad dal and is in a similar circular flower shape. The Jaangiri is soaked in sugar syrup and tastes good even after a couple of days once the syrup soaks in.
About Ashwin RajagopalanI am the proverbial slashie – a content architect, writer, speaker and cultural intelligence coach. School lunch boxes are usually the beginning of our culinary discoveries.That curiosity hasn’t waned. It’s only got stronger as I’ve explored culinary cultures, street food and fine dining restaurants across the world. I’ve discovered cultures and destinations through culinary motifs. I am equally passionate about writing on consumer tech and travel.