In the words of Chef Edward Lee, “Dessert is like a feel-good song and the best ones make you dance”
Belonging to a family of digital nomads, I totally abide by this thought! Relishing the diverse flavours while hopping across borders can be considered as our hankering at work. It was my never-ending love for desserts which compelled me to peregrinate through southern India – land of temples, plantations, and uniquely-prepared sugary delicacies.
A large group of north Indians, including me, have had a misconception regarding the south Indians. Yes, I confess! Most of us have this perception that the two are vastly different and cannot gel well.
Even when it comes to south-Indian cuisine, we don’t shy away from stereotyping. For instance, when we hear or read the term south-Indian sweets, we can only picture white slurry payasam and nothing else. Even I believed it, until I discovered the divine sweetness of soul-stirring South India through its wide assortment of yummy delicacies during my meridional stopover!
As digital nomads, we sometimes fail to notice the hidden treasures of a city or town. Nevertheless, such facets can be identified in the narrow lanes of old cities which still hold the good-world charm.
My job or my passion (fortunately, it is the same for me), lets me unearth the hidden facades of the globe. You do not know what you can discover until you explore it. Thankfully, my brain seeds germinated in regard to the delectable south Indian sweets during my travel sojourn in major parts of South India.
Let me take you through my saccharine experiences and brief you about some lip-smacking sweets of South India which are sure to remain on your taste buds for hours.
1. Kozhukattai: from land of the Vedas, Tamil Nadu
These white and yellow dumpling-like offerings are available in every local market of Tamil Nadu. The presentation and taste of Kozhukattai makes one think of it as a distant cousin of our Maharashtrian modak.
These are prepared from rice and stuffed with a mixture of jaggery and coconut. Tamilians make it on special occasions and festivals. According to a few history books, Kozhukattai was a favourite dish of the deity Pillaiyar. You too must try this delicate-textured sweet of Tamil Nadu.
2. Khubani ka meetha: from the pearl city, Hyderabad
No Hyderabadi meal is complete without this dessert. Khubani or qubani is an Urdu term for apricots. It is a traditional delicacy prepared with dried apricots, cream, and dry fruits. This extremely soft and smooth treat will melt in your mouth the moment you put it in.
You ought to relish its magical taste when you are in Hyderabad or any part of Telangana. The mehman-nawazi in the Nizami city is deduced with lingo like ‘Kya miya, qubani ka meetha khaye?’ So, when you are in Hyderabad, do try this delicacy and give your reviews in Hyderabadi slang.
3. Mysore pak: from city of palaces, Mysore
The king of sweets in South India got the tag of ‘royal’ as it was discovered in Wadiyar dynasty’s royal kitchen. This delightful mithai has a rich taste which will steal your hearts right away. This sweetened concoction is made with gram flour, ghee, and is delicately flavoured with cardamom.
Every celebration in Mysore starts with Mysore pak, and this sweet is also packed in bulk amounts, to be sent to friends and family staying in different continents of the world. I am a fan of the mildly sweet taste and grainy texture of this grand south-Indian sweet.
4. Payasam: from Deccan Plateau
The list of south-Indian sweets is incomplete if I miss payasam. Payasam refers to milk in Sanskrit. In my digital nomad journey throughout southern India, I was pampered with varieties of payasam made with rice, vermicelli, coconut, and other ingredients. It is a popular sweet dish in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Telangana, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu. The treat is prepared on auspicious days and special occasions. Whether it is Onam, Pongal, Gokulashtami, Dasara, or any festival, payasam brings every member of the family together and spreads joy around with its sweet flavours.
5. Boorelu: from Andhra Pradesh
It is a sweet that represents Andhra Pradesh. The round, golden-brown boorelu will take you to a sugary zone with just one bite. My taste buds were dancing when I fed myself this irresistible sweet ball – made with jaggery, coconut, Bengal gram, sugar, cardamom, and rice – served with hot ghee. Andhraites love this classic recipe which is made on Ugadi and other auspicious festivals.
6. Mutta maala: from God’s own country, Kerala
The unique combination of ingredients puzzled me initially while I was travelling towards Kerala. My heart was dying to try this delicacy made with egg, water, and sugar. The Malabari dessert astounds one and all not just with the presentation but with the delectable taste as well. This distinctive dessert is sure to impress the food enthusiasts of the world.
7. Kajikaya: from Telangana & Andhra
It is a traditional Andhra sweet stuffed with a mixture of coconut, roasted chana, jaggery/sugar, and plenty of dry fruits. The deep fried kajikaya (kajikayalu – plural) is a must during Sankranti festival. Crispy from outside and soft inside – it is an absolute delight for a sweet tooth.
One can come across different variants of this delicacy in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. For instance, if you are health-conscious then try the baked version. And if you have no limits to eating sweets then go for kajikaya which is soaked in sugar syrup for a night. Sounds interesting right? Do give it a try!
8. Chiroti: from land of fragrance, Karnataka
It is a crispy, flaky, sweet round poori, popularly known as chiroti or pathir pheni. It is an authentic recipe of Karnataka and most-loved by Kannadigas; it’s so delicious that you will be pampered to the core. The party menu of every wedding in Karnataka gives prime importance to chiroti. Try it out and become its fan like me!
If you are already drooling then I suggest you walk in my shoes and spoil yourself with the sweetened choices offered across southern India. Let the sugary delights from meridional regions of India offer you the contentment that your heart craves, and give a boost to your digital nomad’s journey.
Keep nomading and do share your experiences!
Author Bio: Shikha Thakur, is a foodie, writer, and gym-enthusiast. She loves to cook food, and likes to explore different cultures of the world. She is a happy-go-lucky person, and serious about her work.