Nothing says festivities like a box of mithai. The past few years have witnessed the humble Indian sweets undergo a metamorphosis and the dessert category is responding to the demand for healthier choices. Luxury brands are answering this call by taking popular sweets such as besan laddoo, kaju katli and khoya barfi, and swapping their ingredients for healthier ones.
Salaluddin Ahmed, chef with Namaste Dwaar, shares that there has been a 30-40 percent shift in food consumption pattern with healthy food, especially healthy sweets, becoming a top priority. “Till a few years back, requests for vegan or gluten-free sweets were few and far between, but now, specifically after the pandemic, people are all for healthier options.”
Chef Anand Panwar, Executive Pastry Chef, Roseate Hotels and Resorts, agrees. “Owing to this trend, we introduced several alternatives that are gluten-free, or sugar-free. People are loving things such as flaxseed laddoo, roasted channa laddoo, coconut laddoo, hazelnut peda, walnut peda, and bal mithai.”
Oil-free, no-dairy laddoos?
Gita Ramesh, Managing Director Kairali Ayurvedic Group, says it’s possible. “Jaggery is a hit. Palm sugar comes next as it has less glucose content that keeps blood sugar level stable.” Chef Vidushi Sharma, Founder of Truffle and Co., a bespoke desserts company, has been making things in almond milk or oat milk, cashew butter, or coconut oil. “Almonds are a versatile ingredient that go well with vegan desserts,” she says.
Given the growing concern over food adulteration with the use of synthetic colour, wax, and preservatives in food, especially desserts off-late, people are ever more concious of what they consume. “We will see more of plant-based and plant-forward foods in the future,” says Jasjit Singh, Co-founder, and Business Partner, La Marinate.
If nothing else, the pandemic has increased people’s awareness for nourishment. Food is not seen just as an indulgence but also as a value addition to one’s health. “That’s why, a sweet dish has to find the right balance between healthy and decadent,” says Chef Himanshu Taneja, Culinary Director, South Asia, Marriott International, adding, “In the past two years, I have received more requests for steamed and low-fat dessert than ever before. Dates and figs are in great demand.” From sweet potato halwa to ragi sheera, you won’t have any regrets the next day.