These Diwali sweets are made in T&T to observe the Hindu festival of lights, Divali. A few are also made to celebrate Eid as well.
Some sweets like kurma and gulab jamoon are also sold by many street vendors year round.
Here’s more on these delicious Indian sweets.
Trini Divali Sweets
The most common sweets prepared for Divali include:
- gulab jamoon (sometimes called ‘fat kurma’)
- coconut barfi
- ras gula
- lapsi and suhari
I know barfi as ‘methai’ but the term is actually the Hindi translation for sweet. So, technically everything in the list above is methai.
Continue on to learn more about each sweet. I’m still working on the recipes to have photos for all… So bare with me!
Parsad or prasad is considered sacred because it is offered to God during prayer ceremonies. While we can’t exactly give God anything, parsad serves as a representation of giving a part of yourself to the lord.
Translating, ‘prasad’ means gracious gift, so it makes sense.
Trinidad parsad is made with ghee (clarified butter), flour, sugar, milk, raisins, and spices like ginger and cardamom. The result is a sweet, soft, crumbly dough.
My dad uses cream of wheat as well and you can find his parsad recipe here. It’s a scaled down version of what he usually makes. This recipe gives enough to fill a dozen parcels.
Kurma is a small, delicious, deep-fried dough that is made with flour, butter (or ghee), condensed milk and Indian spices like ginger, cardamom, cinnamon and more. The dough is often cut into small sticks before deep frying.
Once they are cooled, the kurma is coated with a runny syrup made with sugar, water and spices like ginger and cardamom.
Sometimes, we use coconut milk in our kurma recipe and sprinkle powdered milk over the syrup.
With such a sugary, spiced snack, it is no wonder kurma is made all year and sold as a street snack.
My mom’s recipe is coming soon to this blog. My mother-in-law’s recipe is on my other blog: https://zenhealth.net/trinidad-kurma-recipe/ (I can’t link to it here due to Google’s restrictions on linking to yourself).
Gulab jamoon is very similar to kurma, so much so that it is sometimes called ‘fat kurma’.
Like kurma, it is a small, deep-fried dough made with flour, butter or ghee, milk or cream, condensed milk and spices like cardamom and ginger. The dough must be squeezed together to ensure it doesn’t crack when deep frying.
Once cooled, the gulab jamoon is coated in the same runny syrup made with sugar, water and spices like ginger and cardamom.
By the way, people from India call rasgulla gulab jamoon. I don’t know if T&T’s version is a long lost type of sweet or if it evolved on the islands.
Check out eatahfood’s video on making this Diwali sweet:
Think of barfi as a milk based fudge with sprinkles on top.
Barfi is a square bar made with milk powder, sugar, and spices like ginger and cardamom. It is pressed down onto a tray to remove any air pockets and topped with rainbow sprinkles, chopped nuts, pistachios, and more. Before it hardens completely, it is cut into that typical square shape.
Natasha and Foodie Nation has a great video for this:
Coconut barfi is similar to barfi but has an added coconut flavor. It is also shaped differently.
Coconut barfi is made with powdered milk, cream, shredded coconut, sugar and spices like cardamom and ginger. Once mixed, it is rolled into a ball and a piece of maraschino cherry is pressed into the top.
JennaG has a great video for making coconut barfi
Ladoo is shaped like a rounded ball and has a unique, nutty flavor.
It can be made with dhal (split peas) and channa (chickpeas) that have been soaked, patched and ground to form a smooth paste. That paste is fried with peanuts and then ground. Other ingredients like sugar, ghee, condensed milk are added to form a coarse mixture. Small amounts are squeezed together to form the small, round ladoo ball.
Siddhi’s recipe is nice:
Peera is a square shaped Indian delicacy made with flour or rice flour, milk powder, sugar, condensed milk and spices like cardamom and ginger. The dough formed is deep fried, mixed with a spiced sugary syrup and pressed into a tray and cut in squares like barfi.
JennaG also has a video for making peera:
Rasgulla (or gulab jamoon as it is known in India) is a small fried dough ball that is served in a runny sugary syrup. The dough ball is made with flour, powdered milk, and spices. The syrup is spiced most often with cardamom and added to the dough ball. As everything cools, the ball soaks up the syrup and becomes a super sweet, melt in your mouth treat.
Take a look at Shamin Di’s video:
Jalebi is a unique Divali sweet that can be found year round, especially in Debe doubles establishments.
It is made with flour, yogurt and orange coloring and left to ferment overnight. The fermented batter is piped into hot oil starting as a dot and circling around to form a small spiral. It is fried until crispy, removed from the oil and added immediately to warm spiced syrup. The syrup crystallizes and creates a candy-like exterior around the fried dough.
Navin has a nice recipe on his Youtube channel:
Like parsad, roat is used in Hindu prayer ceremonies. It looks and resembles a thick, fried cookie.
It is made with flour, sugar, ghee and milk and shaped like a small disc before frying until golden brown. Roat is one of my favorite Divali sweets.
Check out Deepa’s tutorial on Youtube:
Lapsi and sohari
Lapsi and sohari are also important sweets used in prayers. Lapsi is a thick creamy paste made with flour, sugar, milk, ghee and spices. Sohari resembles a tiny roti and is made with flour, ghee and sugar. The dough is flattened and fried. To assemble, lapsi is pasted onto one sohari and covered by another one.
Taste of Trini explained how she makes them:
Those are the common Trinidad Divali sweets. Can you think of any others? Leave a comment and let me know.