These last few days I have been researching the many varieties of Indian sweets and desserts and have been amazed to see how so many dishes give or take influence from other types of cuisine. Mostly, although I was aware of the impact Middle Eastern food on Indian during the Mughal regime, I was surprised by the the huge relationship between their sweet dishes.
Having already looked into the varieties of Gulab Jamun found across the Middle East I was surprised to find Greek versions of Halwa that are identical in name and nature to the Indian version. Ful Khaja are also a popular Indian sweet, very similar to the Turkish Baklava, layers of thin pastry sheets baked with a pistachio stuffing and drizzled with a sweetened syrup.
Jalebi had to be the big surprise though! One of my favourite sweets when I was growing up, I was intrigued to see all the variations across Persia, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia to name a few! All with slightly different takes on the name, recipe and presentation but all essentially the same.
Heading Eastwards from India it is even more incredible to see Far Eastern takes on some 'Indian' sweets. The Vietnamese version of Gulab Jamun is Che Xoi Nuoc and the Chinese is Tangyuan in fact these are almost a cross between Gulab Jamun and Rasgulla.