In our experience, Indian kuih embraces the same philosophy as the rest of Indian culture: colourful and over-the-top. The sweet kuihs, in particular, are very sweet and are known collectively in India as mithai. Laddu is one of the most common types of these and is a confection made from different combinations of grains, fruits and sugar, which is cooked in ghee (clarified butter) and moulded into a bite-sized ball. You’ll often see these at celebrations or religious festivities.
This flour, sugar and ghee combination forms the basis of many other mithai. Mysore pak is fudgy, while sohan papdi is flaky and uses milk, but the ingredients are nearly identical otherwise. Confusingly enough, there are even variants within one type of kuih: the picture above shows both the flaky sohan papdi and another type that looks like a Swiss roll, but feels harder. Then you have the brightly-coloured coconut candy that crumbles in your mouth; we recommend small bites to avoid sugar overload!
Savoury-wise, the vadai is popular – another collective term to describe fried snacks. Different varieties of lentils, called dal (if you’ve ever had roti canai, that’s what the yellow gravy is made from) are often used to make these. The fluffy doughnut-like medhu / ulundu vadai is usually eaten for breakfast, while the flatter parrupu vadai is more flavourful. Then there are the triangular samosas, heartier snacks with fillings including minced meat and potatoes in a crispy shell. Eat these piping hot for maximum effect.
The fluffy doughnutlike medhu/ ulundu vadai is usually eaten for breakfast, while the flatter parrupu vadai is more flavourful”
1. ULUNDU VADAI 2. LADDU 3. MYSORE PAK 4. SAMOSA 5. PARRUPU VADAI 6. SOHAN PAPDI WITH MIXED NUTS 7. COCONUT CANDY