The Pakistani culture is full of festivals and celebrations. There is the custom of a hearty serving of traditional sweets and desserts, whatever be the occasion-wedding or festival like Eid.
Pakistani sweets and desserts are mostly sugar and milk based. Some are served cold and some, hot. Some are dry and some wet. Cakes are also popular as seen in the increase in cake delivery in Karachi.
But traditional remains close to the heart of Pakistanis. No festival or grand occasion is complete without the following traditional sweets and desserts:
- RICE PUDDING OR KHEER:
It is the star dessert of festivals like Eid- ul- Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha. This dessert has been around since last 2000 years and is popular in various versions all around the world. Pakistani kheer is made of rice, milk, and sugar combined with the fragrance and flavor of saffron, kewra or green cardamom. Kheer has a milky white color and a texture that is smooth. Tow popular versions of Kheer are ‘Firni’ and ‘Gajrella’. Firni is prepared like Kheer except that rice flour is substituted for rice and so is much smoother. Gajrella is a version of Kheer combined with grated carrots which provide it with a nice, fruity flavor. Kheer is often served in clay pots.
- SHEER KHORMA:
It is a hot, breakfast dessert loved by Pakistanis, served after prayers offered in the Eid festivals. It is made with vermicelli, milk, dry fruit, nuts, sugar, and ghee as well as fragrance and flavor of Saffron, Kewra, and cardamom. It mostly has a color of milky golden and may be thick or thin based on the method of cooking. It is served hot.
- GURWALI CHAWAL AND ZARDA:
These desserts are served on the festival of the birthday of Prophet Mohammed. Pakistani Muslims prepare sweet rice (either gurwali chawal or zarda) for celebrations with friends and family. Zarda is made of dry fruit, sugar, rice, yellow food coloring and spices like cinnamon and cloves. Gurwali Chawal has the same recipe except that jaggery is substituted for sugar. No color is added as Gur (jaggery) has its own typical brown color. Both items are served hot.
It is a sweet and dense dessert. It may be made with or without milk but contains a prolific amount of ghee and sugar. Pakistani Halwas come in many versions. Homemade Halwas include Carrot Halwa, Lentil halwa, Pumpkin Halwa, Gram flour Halwa and Semolina Halwa. These Halwas are enjoyed when served with a cream topping. But other much-loved Halwas like Habshee Halwa and Sohan Halwa are tough to prepare at home and so are bought from sweet shops. Some Halwas are made based on occasions like carrot halwa for winter weddings and breakfast special like Semolina Halwa. Halwa making is an elaborate process and large quantities are usually made.
- RAS MALAI:
A delectable dessert derived from another sweet- the Rosgollah. It is popular in the entire subcontinent. It is made of velvety, soft, white balls dunked in creamy milk. It is made with sugar, milk, curd, cottage cheese (paneer) and flavored with rosewater, kewra, saffron or cardamom.
These are some of the best sweets and desserts from Pakistan. These beat the best of cakes in Karachi. They are superior in taste and cultural value.