Desserts are often used to convey gratitude, affection, respect, joy and reward. India with its rich heritage and diversified culture also varies a great deal in sweet preparations. Sweets are either prepared at home or eaten out (not limited to any one occasion). Most common are parties, lunch/dinner invitations, birthdays, festivals, anniversaries and, in general, eating out. There are numerous homemade and traditional sweets or desserts prepared which vary from region to region and place to place. They are usually passed on from generation to generation. The most common preparations that are region-specific but not limited to, are as follows:
South India: Payasam, Sweet Pongal, Laddu
East India: Rosogolla, Misti doi, Pithe, Sandesh, Rasmalai
West India: Besan Laddoos, Shrikhand
Irrespective of the region one belongs to, the main ingredients that are used in these preparations are sugar and milk and fats or oils. These ingredients are a source of carbohydrate and calories and must be eaten cautiously.
The first ingredient is usually sugar, a simple carbohydrate that is absorbed in the blood stream very quickly and raises blood sugar. It is a concentrated source of calories (1 tsp or 5 gms = 20 calories) and therefore is referred to as a Calorie Sweetener as compared to a non- caloric sweetener such as ‘Sweet and Low’ or ‘Equal’. Portion control is one big key to successfully manage diabetes.
The second ingredient most commonly used in the preparation of sweets and desserts is milk. The many homemade products that use milk are plain and sweetened yogurt, condensed milk fudge (khoa), fresh chenna and paneer cheeses, ghee and clotted cream. However most of these productswhen prepared from whole or even low-fat milk can raise blood cholesterol or contribute to heart disease. Most of the desserts or sweets are prepared by either whole milk or half-and-half for rich and creamy taste.