Visiting a South Asian sweet shop during Diwali is a fun and chaotic experience. A line goes out the door.Employees furiously pack ornate boxes Radouse Ghee, spongy rasgullas, and all sorts of colorful sweets abound, often made with dairy products, sugar, and nuts, and sometimes topped with a layer of edible silver foil. They happen to gather around a display case and exchange good wishes. Diwali, celebrated across South Asia and its diaspora on his 24th October this year, commemorates the triumph of light over darkness. The centerpiece of the celebration is mitai, or sweets.mass production Mitai are readily available online, but these five independent shops create handcrafted sweets daily, offering flavors familiar to the local South Asian community. Diwali is their prime time.
Maharajah Suites, Jackson Heights, Queens
When Sukhdev Bawa moved to New York in 1981, his first job was as a taxi driver. “My wife thought it was too dangerous,” he said.there he snack I worked in two other stores before starting my own. Maharajah, who opened his 2000 in the bustling area of His Heights in Jackson, Queens, His Sweets offers sweet and savory round snacks of fried dough, such as matti (mati). .
Bawa’s employees frequently travel to India and bring back ideas for regional sweets to add to the menu. Examples include Anarkali, a Bengali sweet stuffed with cherries and pistachios, and Rose His Bahar, a square filled with rose-flavoured sugar.
Maharaja sells about 80 kinds of sweets. And while some shops use shortcuts such as powdered milk to produce large amounts of Mitai, Bawa prefers to use fresh milk.
Bawa estimates that Diwali business accounts for 20% of his annual turnover. He also ships his sweets nationwide, and recently opened a nearby factory that has allowed him to expand production.
Maharaja Suites, 73-10 37th Ave., Queens, New York, 718-505-2680, maharajasweetsny.us
Punjab Suites, Kent, Washington
Before opening Punjab Suites in Kent, Washington, in 2001, owner Iqbal Dar drove more than three hours to Canada to buy mithai, such as besan bahfi, made from chickpea flour. He said he was. milk cakeIt is prepared by cooking milk to a thicker consistency and mixing it with sugar.
Dha, who wears a colorful salwar kameez with her employees, learned to cook from her mother and from preparing langal meals, a Sikh tradition. “If I go to a wedding party, I never eat it because I don’t like it,” she said. “I like my food. I eat at Punjabi Sweets all the time. My employees too.”
All kitchen staff are women. “Only men clean up.”
During the pandemic, she has stopped serving indoor dining, but hopes to reopen and reopen soon. Like many Mitai shops, Punjabi Her Sweets is the watering hole of the local Desi Her community. “People are calling me home and saying, ‘I miss the Punjabi sweets,'” she said.
“People have been shopping here since they were kids,” she said. Her customers call her Auntie, Nani, Dadi and Grandma. “They went to college, got married, and still come to me for sweets and make me happy.”
Punjab Suites, 23617 104th Ave. SE C, Kent, Washington, 253-859-3236, punjabsweetsonline.com
Jayasri Sweets, Herndon, Virginia
Jayasri Sweets in Herndon, Virginia is known for its kaja, a flaky deep-fried dish. pastries Originally from Andhra Pradesh. The owner, Mr. Jayasri Gampa, molds the dough every day when the shop opens. You won’t find this region’s sweets in many other Mitai shops in the US. Her version is glazed on the outside and crunchy and sugary on the inside.
Kaja has also developed a reputation outside of the Washington, DC suburbs. “People started taking it back to India to show them what American kaja was like,” said Dilip Kumar, Gampa’s husband, who helps run the business. “It became very popular.”
Jayasri Sweets, 313 Sunset Park Drive, Herndon, Virginia, 703-787-9649, jayasrisweets.com
Brij Mohan Indian Suites and Restaurants, Sharonville, OH
Preparations for Diwali begin at least a month before the holiday at the Brij Mohan Indian Suites and Restaurant, located about 18 miles outside of Cincinnati. The Gabba family started running a confectionery shop in Punjab in the late 1970s.
The family opened Brij Mohan in 2005. The owner, his Sohan Lal Gaba, said that when he moved to the United States, milk, sugar, chickpea flour It was very different from what he was used to in India. “There was no one here to tell you the ingredients and everything,” he said. “I just figured out what I could do with the materials that were available.”
He has gotten used to using cow’s milk instead of buffalo milk.
“This year’s Diwali will be even busier than last year,” said Sakhi Glover, Gabba’s assistant manager and daughter-in-law, as people become more and more accustomed to hosting celebrations. Cooks work long hours preparing sweets and snacks. Panipuri“We start in the morning and continue through the night. We don’t close for three days.”
Brij Mohan Indian Sweets and Restaurant, 11259 Reading Road, Sharonville, Ohio, 513-769-4549, brijmohancincinnati.com
Surati Farsan Mart, Artesia, CA
Surati Farsan Mart has continuously expanded its products. Khaju Khatri Coconut-rich copra packs — to meet the growing demand of South Asian Americans in Artesia, California.
“It takes about two weeks, maybe 20 hours of work a day,” says owner Ashvin Patel. He hires security guards to do crowd control. “It’s crazy. It’s an adrenaline rush.”
Patel’s parents, Ramila and Nathu, started the shop in 1986 after immigrating from Leicester, England. Mr. Patel now runs the store and is focused on modernizing the store’s design and expanding its online presence.
Traditional sweets like kaju katli are the shop’s top sellers, but Patel offers more modern varieties, such as green and pink watermelon barfi, which are pistachios, cashews and raisins shaped like fruits. We also offer It’s already happening in India. “They’re probably more advanced than us when it comes to fusion ideas,” he said.
When it comes to Mitai, Patel said freshness is everything.Surati sweets, like sweet and fuzzy rolls flavored with almonds and pistachios, are made every two days and served hot soaked in syrup. Jalebi made daily. Patel asks him about opening other locations, but Patel doesn’t want to.
Surati Farsan Mart, 11814 E. 186th St., Artesia, California, 562-860-2310, suratifarsan.com.
These round treats are a coconut lover’s dream. coconut laddu Mitai, or a type of sweet, is commonly found in South Asian shops and served on festive occasions. Many varieties of mithai are milk or nut based, but this one has coconut that does all the talking and a dash of cardamom provides a floral edge. This particular variety is popular at Jayasri Sweets in Herndon, Virginia and the recipe is provided by the shop’s owner, Jayasri Gampa. This recipe works best with fresh coconut (frozen works fine). Dry coconut doesn’t have enough moisture to hold the mixture together.
Priya Krishna and Cathy Law
Yield: about 16 laddus
Total time: 30 minutes
4 cups/480 grams of lightly wrapped unsweetened grated frozen (thawed) coconut or grated fresh coconut
4 cups/804 grams of sugar
1/4 teaspoon cardamom (optional)
1. Place the coconut and sugar in a large thick-bottomed pot or Dutch oven and mix well. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently and scraping the sides and bottom of the pan, until the sugar melts and begins to bubble, about 15 minutes.
2. Remove from heat and, if using cardamom, stir until dissolved. Allow to cool slightly, undisturbed, until mixture forms a very slight crust on surface, but is still moist and sticky underneath, 20 minutes.
3. With your hands, shape the mixture into 2-inch balls (you can make smaller balls if you prefer). Chill for 10-15 minutes until the laddu is firm.Serve coconut laddu immediately or store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
badam barfiThis version was developed by Ashvin Patel, who runs the Surati Farsan Mart in Artesia, California. , is an even more decadent sweet that incorporates caramel and tastes somewhere between a mithai and a candy bar. These treats are eaten throughout the South Asian subcontinent for celebrations big and small, from Diwali to high-scoring tests. If the almond base looks a little dry, hand kneading will help the milk mixture mix more thoroughly.
Priya Krishna and Jesse Sagek
Yield: 35 (1 1/2 inch) pieces
Total time: 20 minutes + cooling
non stick cooking spray
2 cups/16 oz whole milk
1 cup/200 grams of sugar
1/4 ounce yellow liquid food coloring (optional)
6 cups/671 grams finely ground almond flour (from blanched almonds)
11 oz/311 g soft caramel candies (such as Kraft brands), about 1 3/4 cups, unwrapped
10 oz/283 g raw almond (about 2 cups)
1. Coat a 9 x 13 inch metal or glass baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and drape parchment paper over the two long sides to form a sling.
2. Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, add the milk and sugar, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 minutes.
3. Remove from heat, add food coloring (if using) and stir. Then add the almond flour little by little until you have a thick dough-like paste. almond flourIf the mixture is too thick to stir, knead by hand. (Be careful, the mixture will still be a little hot. Allow to cool for 2-3 minutes if necessary.)
4. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and press with your hands to form an even layer.
Five. caramel 2 tablespoons of water in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring often, until the caramel is completely melted, 6 to 8 minutes. Pour the caramel over the almond base and use a heat-resistant spatula to spread it evenly.
6. Sprinkle the whole almonds evenly over the warmed caramel and press with the back of a spatula to adhere. Refrigerate, about 2 hours, until the caramel is firm and firm to the touch. Cut into small squares using a serrated knife and serve.
This article was originally published in The New York Times.
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