Thursday, February 5, 2009

Indian Sweets & Spices

Indian Sweets & Spices

Another strip mall treasure trove, Indian Sweets & Spices offers groceries, toiletries, a weekend lunch buffet, and a great selection of succulent mithai, Indian confections made fresh on the premises every other day. Whereas many mithai I've had in the past were almost narcotically sugary, ISS's are not quite such a piledriver to the pancreas. They have a mild sweetness that allows flavors like cardamon, saffron, pistachio, and rosewater to flourish.

Here are a few of the dozen-or-so varieties usually available (although I've done my best to match names to pictures, note that ISS is a relaxed place where it is perfectly acceptable to point at whatever you want):

ISS's most popular sweet, gulab jamun, is also a good choice for mithai-curious first timers. Plump, doughy balls of Indian cottage cheese are given a thin brown skin in the deep fryer, then soaked in spicy honey syrup.

Chum chum are essentially oblong gulab jamun, slit open lengthwise and stuffed with flavored, sweetened cream cheese.

Jalebi are big looping swirls of blaze orange dough, deep fried and soaked in sugar syrup.

Gajrela is a North Indian carrot cake, particularly popular in winter. The pudding-like carrot base is topped with pistachios and khoya, a creamy "cheese" made from reduced milk.

Kalakand is a tender, crumbly fudge made from ricotta-like cheese, condensed milk, and sugar, topped with crushed pistachios.

Other choices include laddoo (made from chickpea flour), burfee (creamy slabs topped with edible silver leaf, flavored with rose water and kewra water, a distillate of pandanus flowers), and in the freezer, rasmalai (milk-soaked dumplings flavored with dried fruit and saffron).

ISS sweets range from $5.99 to $7.99 a pound--and they're so dense and moist that a pound notches up quickly. I've found that an assorted box is fun to take along to a party; cut each sweet into smaller pieces so everyone can have a taste.

Indian Sweets & Spices
18002 15th Ave NE
Shoreline WA 98115

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Julia - Hi from Mizonokuchi!!What a great page and lovely pictures, as well. You lucky thing - I can't find fresh Indian sweets anywhere in Tokyo... I honestly think that the real reason I find myself in Bangkok so often has something to do with the wonderful Punjabi sweets in Little India. Gajrela, Khoya, and Kalakand absolutely make my toes curl. Let's meet in Bangkok and eat! (Thai sweets are amazing and just everywhere!)