Diwali has begun, promising five days of celebration for Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world. It’s the first Festival of Lights (November 4-8) since the beginning of the pandemic that could actually involve spending proper time with family, friends and your wider community, meaning the feasting is likely to be spectacular, and the snacking even better.

Perfect bite-sized savoury mouthfuls – from paneer pakora to golden fried samosas – are all very well, but chief amongst Diwali fare are sweet things, and lots of them. A traditional and delicious way to greet and welcome people, Indian sweets (also known as ‘mithai’) are also a way to share happiness and a symbol of celebration. They taste incredible, too.

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While many families have been busy prepping sweets for Diwali in the run-up, it’s not too late to get involved, or to support local Indian sweet makers and go buy some (you won’t regret it). Here are just a few sweets to make, look out for and happily scoff…

Gulab jamun

These spherical delights are basically fried dumplings made using milk solids and flour, scented with cardamom, that are then soaked in a rose syrup with a hint of saffron. Eat them warm with a sprinkling of chopped nuts – or if you’re in the mood, a scoop of ice cream.

Jalebi

 
 
 
 
 
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More fried goodness, but this time in the lacy, burnished shape of jalebi. These crispy, swirled sweets rely on a fermented batter, that once cooked are doused in sugar syrup. You’ll get through a whole pile of them with a cup of chai on the side.

Malai kulfi

Kulfi
Kulfi (Alamy/PA)

Basically a dense Indian ice cream on a stick, malai kulfi is super creamy and usually studded with pistachios and cardamom, although you can really experiment with flavourings. Mango kulfi is particularly moreish, and rose can be light and delicate.

Gajar ka Halwa

The earthy sweetness of grated carrot is the crux of gajar ka halwa. The pudding features carrot cooked with milk, sugar and ghee, plus a hint of cardamom, that’s then topped with nuts – often whole almonds.

Coconut ladoo

Coconut Ladoo
Coconut Ladoo (Alamy/PA)

Ladoo are simple and satisfying to make, and you can pack practically whatever flavour you want into them – coconut is a classic, though. The balls are a mix of flour, sugar, ghee, and often jaggery (a coarse dark brown sugar made in India) and nuts, or rolled in desiccated coconut.

 

Kaju barfi

 
 
 
 
 
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These beautiful diamond-shaped north Indian sweets are often bejewelled with flakes of edible silver, and have a similar taste and texture to fudge, but tend to be made with cashew nuts and cardamom. Have a cup of tea on hand, they’re bound to gooily stick to the roof of your mouth.

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