Bengali Sweets and Desserts

Indian desserts have an identity all their own. You won't see anything like them elsewhere and confections from the eastern region of Bengali are some of the most unique. If the popularity of Bengali sweets—known as mishti—such as rasgulla, sandesh, and mishti doi is anything to go by, the Bengalis from Eastern India know a great deal about sweet making. This seems only natural since they are, as a group, known for having a sweet tooth!

From simple puddings to slightly more complex confections, these favorite Eastern Indian sweets are sure to please and impress.

  • 01 of 05

    Sandesh Mishti

    Sandesh ready to be devoured

    Manubahuguna | Dreamstime.com

    Satisfy your sweet tooth with this recipe for sandesh, one of West Bengal's most popular desserts. It is very easy to make, but since it includes milk, the molded confection has a short shelf life. That shouldn't be too big of a concern because it's often gobbled up very quickly! 

    This recipe calls for paneer, a type of curd cheese used in Indian cooking for both sweet and savory dishes. The almonds, pistachios, saffron, and cardamom bring a truly ethnic flavor to this dessert.

  • 02 of 05

    Rasgulla

    Delicious rasgulla

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    There aren't too many Indians who haven't eaten rasgulla, and those who have remember it fondly. It's simply a magical dessert that melts in your mouth and leaves you wanting more.

    Rasgulla is a very unusual dessert, that starts off with homemade cottage cheese. That is then formed into spongy balls and soaked in a sweet syrup. Add some rose water and strands of saffron, let them chill, and enjoy!

  • 03 of 05

    Mishti Doi

    Sweet mishti doi served in a bowl

    Kirti Poddar / Wikimedia Commons

    Mishti doi is a sweetened yogurt dessert that's synonymous with Bengal. It's amazingly simple to make but has a taste that rivals the region's more complex sweets.

    The basic recipe requires just three ingredients—cream, yogurt, and sugar. The cream is boiled down, the sugar is caramelized, and the yogurt promotes the culture's growth. Putting this sweet treat together requires very little time, but you do have to wait for it to ferment and set up overnight.

  • 04 of 05

    Cham-Cham

    Cham-cham dessert presented on a green plate with fresh flowers

    Jehangir Hanafi | Dreamstime.com

    Sometimes called "pleasure boats," cham-cham is also a term of endearment for loved ones. This is not surprising because cham-chams are truly delicious and very sweet indeed.

    Cham-chams are also interesting to make. First, you'll heat milk until the curds separate from the liquid. After hanging the curds in cheesecloth for an hour, you then knead the cheese until the mixture is smooth, form it into balls, then cook those in sugar syrup. They are often presented in a boat-shaped dish, hence their delightful nickname.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Kheer (Rice Pudding)

    A bowl of kheer

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    Kheer is known as payasam in the south and payesh in the east (Bengali). It is a creamy rice pudding that is delicately flavored with cardamom and full of nuts. Kheer is often prepared for festivals and special occasions, but it is a great dessert for any time of the year.

    Simple to make, the rice is combined with milk, condensed milk, cardamom, sugar raisins, almonds, and saffron, cooked and then chilled. It's served cold and is particularly delightful with its rose petal garnish.