Bihari cuisine goes far beyond just litti chokha. A melting pot for several culture and influences, Bihar's gastronomy is a union of three sub-regional cuisines - Maithali, Magahi and Bhojpuri. It is largely influenced by the cooking styles of Eastern and Northern parts of India (especially Bengal and Uttar Pradesh respectively); and what strike a chord with us are the homogeneous flavours every dish offers! Although Bihari cuisine is majorly seasonal, one of the year-round constants is the wide range of scrumptious traditional desserts and sweet treats.
Today we will explore some of the most savoured 'mithai' in Bihari cuisine.
Here're 11 Must-Try Bihari Sweet Dishes:
Ask any person from Bihar about the most popular dessert of the state, thekua will be the most common reply! Also called thokwa (or thekariis), it is a deep-fried biscuit-like sweet dish made from atta, sugar (or jaggery) and ghee.
A wafer-like multi-layered sweet-treat, khaja is a wheat flour preparation, deep-fried in ghee or vegetable oil. The khaja is then dipped in chashni (sugar syrup), making the crispy dessert yet more scrumptious.
3. Parwal Ki Mithai
If you are someone who gets turned-off seeing parwal (pointed gourd) on your plate, then this sweet dish may change your perception about the veggie forever! Not just that, it will also make you fall in love with the vegetable. In this delicacy, the parwal is first de-skinned, deseeded and boiled to make it soft and tender. It is then filled with an appetising stuffing (made with khoya and dry fruits and nuts) and dunked in warm chashni. It surely is one of the most unique dishes the cuisine offers.
4. Khurma And Laktho
Quite similar to the North Indian shakarpara, these two dishes are stick-like snacks, well coated with jaggery or sugar syrup. The only striking difference between khurma and latkho is that while khurma is made of maida, laktho uses rice-flour for preparation.
It is one such dessert that every Bihari swears by! Looks somewhat like honey-glazed doughnut, balushahi is made of maida, baking soda, ghee and sugar syrup. It has a slightly flaky texture and is topped with slices of pista and almonds.
Also famous in Maharashtra, anarsa is a laddoo-like sweetmeat that includes soaked rice flour, jaggery or sugar and poppy seeds. It is also called adhirasam in Southern cuisine.
Another laddoo-like dish, laai is a crunchy round ball, made with puffed rice (murmura) and jaggery. It is also called moya in Bengali. Laai is one of the most common sweet dishes made in a Bihari household year-round.
A common dish in almost every part of India, malpua never fails to bring a smile on our face. Made with flour, milk, sugar and banana, malpua defines indulgence.
9. Kheer Makhana
A must-have during Chhat Puja, kheer makhana is a healthy and tasty amalgamation of fox nut (makhana) and milk.
Tilkut is similar to the widely available gajjak in North India. Also called til barfi, it is made with sesame seeds and is available in three varieties - the white one (that includes refined sugar), shakkar tilkut (made of unrefined sugar) and gur tilkut (includes jaggery that gives it a dark brown colour).
Although it has an origin in Mathura of Uttar Pradesh, peda is an equally famous mithai in the Bihari cuisine. Touted to be an ultimate treat for the ones with sweet-tooth, it is a semi-soft sweet-dough, which includes khoya, sugar, cardamom, saffron and pistachio.
So the next time you visit Bihar, or have a friend coming from the state, make sure you get a box of these sweet delicacies for yourself.
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About Somdatta SahaExplorer- this is what Somdatta likes to call herself. Be it in terms of food, people or places, all she craves for is to know the unknown. A simple aglio olio pasta or daal-chawal and a good movie can make her day.