Delightful Diwali Desserts For Kids

This post is part of MKB’s first annual Diwali for Kids series. Follow along as MKB bloggers share crafts, recipes, and activities to share the festival of Diwali with kids.

Living in Dubai, which has a large Indian expat population, meant I was invited to celebrate a number of Indian festivals throughout the years. I absolutely loved experiencing and learning more about their vibrant culture and heritage. Of all the festivals, I looked forward to Diwali the most.

Diwali, or Deepavali is the most significant of Hindu religious festivals as it celebrates the start of the Hindu New Year. Typical of all New Year celebrations, there are plenty of lights, firecrackers burst by children, clay lamps known as diva’s lit by families, and firework displays, which is why it’s often referred to as the festival of lights. The festival signifies the triumph of light over darkness, and good over evil.

During the five day festival, there are numerous rituals observed such as buying new clothes & jewelry, lighting diyas, decorating the home with lights, bursting crackers, and the one we enjoy the most, preparing traditional home-made sweets or mithai.

Our Indian friends that celebrated Diwali, would give us delicious Indian diwali sweets to try, some of which have become our favorites over the years. LouLou & Jaf love tasting them…they’re so different from American desserts, extremely rich in milk and sugar, which make them hard to resist!

Here are 5 Indian sweets that we love indulging in during Diwali.

Cashew Barfi

diwali sweetsOne of Jaf’s favorite Indian desserts, cashew barfi is a dense milk-based Indian sweet made from condensed milk and sugar. The ingredients are cooked until the mixture turns solid, and then they’re cut into the typical triangular squares pictured above. You’ll find a number of varieties such as besan barfi (made with gram flour), almond barfi, pistachio barfi, and our favorite cashew barfi aka kaaju barfi.
You’ll find them sold all year round, but are especially popular during the holidays, weddings and religious festivals such as Diwali.

Rasmalai

diwali sweetsIf I had to pick an Indian dessert, rasmalai would be it. It’s a wet dessert of indian cottage cheese dough balls soaked in a milk sugar-syrup with saffron and pistachios. Indian desserts generally have a unique flavor, but whenever I eat ras malai, I think of cheesecake that’s been soaked in a cold milky-sugar syrup…rich and delicious!

Jalebi

diwali sweetsJalebi is a bright-orange dessert that’s made by deep-frying wheat dough into a pretzel-shape before it’s soaked in a sugar syrup. We like them best when they’re fresh out the deep-fryer, though it’s perfectly acceptable to eat them cold. I recently learned that they didn’t originate in India, but were brought there back in the 1400’s, thanks to the Persians!

Ladoo

diwali sweetsThese common ball-shaped desserts are popular in India especially during festivals and religious ceremonies. They’re made from flour, sugar and depending on the variety can have almonds, pistachios, and saffron added to it. Our favorite, pictured above, is known as the boondi ladoo made from chickpea flour.

Kheer

diwali sweets

Kheer (known as payasam in the South of India) is a popular Indian rice pudding served on special occasions. Whenever we’re craving a taste of Indian desserts, we end up cooking up a batch of kheer.
A good friend of ours shared this recipe from A Brown Table, a spin on the classic that we love. I’ve tweaked the recipe, which you’ll find below, to suit the kid’s taste buds. It’s simple enough to prepare at home, and the use of quinoa instead of the traditional basmati rice means the dish is healthier and less calories. I find it best never to ask just how many calories are in a serving of any Indian dessert…I suggest you do the same! 🙂

Quinoa Kheer Recipe

Adapted from A Brown Table

diwali sweets

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
2-3 teaspoon butter
8-10 dates, pitted and chopped
8 tsp golden raisins
2 tsp unsalted pistachios, chopped
2 tsp almonds, roughly chopped
3/4 tsp ground cardamom seeds
5-6 cups coconut milk (or soy)
pinch of saffron (I used Spanish saffron)
6 Tbsp sugar (you can always add more if you want it sweeter)
4 tsp rose water
a little extra chopped pistachios as a garnish

Directions

  1. Rinse the quinoa thoroughly under running cold water until the water turns clear. You have to ensure that the rinsing gets rid of the outer, bitter saponin coating of the grain.
  2. Bring the quinoa and water to a boil over a medium flame. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, until the seeds become translucent. Usually the water evaporates from the pan, if not, discard remaining liquid. The quinoa will be fluffy.
  3. In a non-stick stock pot, melt the butter over a medium flame. When hot, add the chopped dates, raisins, pistachios, almonds, and cardamom to the pan and sauté for a minute.
  4. Stir in the cooked quinoa and saute for about a minute or two. I like it to brown a little.
  5. Fold in the milk, saffron and sugar. Bring the contents of the pot to a boil over medium flame. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the liquid reduces by about 1/3. Stir occasionally to make sure the milk isn’t burning.
  6. Cool cooked kheer to room temperature. Fold in rose water, and refrigerate before serving. You can either heat the kheer up before serving, or serve chilled. Garnish with pistachios and serve!
Quinoa Kheer
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Indian
Ingredients
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 2-3 teaspoon butter
  • 8-10 dates, pitted and chopped
  • 8 tsp golden raisins
  • 2 tsp unsalted pistachios, chopped
  • 2 tsp slivered almonds, roughly chopped
  • ¾ tsp ground cardamom seeds
  • 5-6 cups coconut milk (or soy)
  • pinch of saffron
  • 6 Tbsp sugar (you can always add more if you want it sweeter)
  • 4 tsp rose water
  • a little extra chopped pistachios as a garnish
Instructions
  1. Rinse the quinoa thoroughly under running cold water until the water turns clear. You have to ensure that the rinsing gets rid of the outer, bitter saponin coating of the grain.
  2. Bring the quinoa and water to a boil over a medium flame. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, until the seeds become translucent. Usually the water evaporates from the pan, if not, discard remaining liquid. The quinoa will be fluffy.
  3. In a non-stick stock pot, melt the butter over a medium flame. When hot, add the chopped dates, raisins, pistachios, almonds, and cardamom to the pan and sauté for a minute.
  4. Stir in the cooked quinoa and saute for about a minute or two. I like it to brown a little.
  5. Fold in the milk, saffron and sugar. Bring the contents of the pot to a boil over medium flame. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the liquid reduces by about ⅓. Stir occasionally to make sure the milk isn't burning.
  6. Cool cooked kheer to room temperature. Fold in rose water, and refrigerate before serving. You can either heat the kheer up before serving, or serve chilled. Garnish with pistachios and serve!
 

There’s no denying that we love Indian desserts, and this Diwali, we’ll be celebrating with our friends by making some delicious homemade kheer. Happy Diwali!

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