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Sweets have been an integral part of celebrations the world over. With the popularity of various forms of desserts, be it the Russian honey cake, the Turkish baklava, or the famous French entremets, it is evident that people associate sweets with happiness.

Who Invented Sweets?

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Since prehistoric times, honey has been the oldest type of sweet consumed by humans. The ancient Egyptians, who created sweets by blending fruits, nuts, and honey, are credited with developing confectionery, around 2,000 BC. 

Sesame seeds were used in Chinese, Greek, and Roman confections. Over three thousand years ago, the Aztecs in Mexico made a bitter beverage out of cocoa beans. After 1500 years, sugar was used to sweeten this beverage.

Since ancient times, sugar has been farmed in India and has been the primary ingredient in all Indian sweets. Even the words for sugar and candy have their origins in Sanskrit, an ancient Indian language.

You would be surprised to know that the Indian subcontinent has a greater variety of sweets than any other country. India not only has a rich and long cultural past, but it also has a long-standing connection to sweets.

India’s love for sweets

Sweets have been an integral part of Indian cuisine through generations. There are many sweets that stand out as the pride of the place, regardless of which part of India one visits. This is mostly because of the ancient stories linked to the sweets, and how the secret recipes were handed down from grandparents to grandchildren. Many families have recipes that they do not share with everyone, keeping family traditions alive. While many new names have been added to the list of Indian sweets, some of the traditional ones are on the verge of oblivion. 

Malpua, Elaneer Payasam, Sarbhaja, Thaen Mittai, and Kharwas are some of the oldest sweets that have gained a legendary reputation worldwide. Although they have been quite popular in the past, they seem to be increasingly replaced by other, more popular varieties.  

Think India, and the image that comes to mind is a land of exuberance and celebration. At any time of the year, Indians have something to celebrate- a festival, a wedding or the birth of a new member of the family. And we love to celebrate it all with sweets. Gulab jamuns, rasgullas, kaju katlis and jalebis are exchanged, fed and consumed to add to the merriment and joy. But what has happened to the deliciously healthy ingi mittai, or the extremely crunchy and nutritious kadalai mittai, or even the humble but never simple then mittai? 

We present to you some of the richest, most exquisite, and almost-forgotten Indian sweets, each with its unique texture, flavour, and richness. 

If you are from the south of India and have been around before the turn of the millennium, this post is going to take you down a sweet memory lane. And, if you are one of those people who were born after 2000, here is a list of things that you would have missed out on, were it not for sweet makers like Anandhaas Sweets.