The whiz-bang sensory overload of Jackson Heights never ceases to amaze. One of the most diverse neighborhoods in Queens, the bustling blocks around 74th Street between Roosevelt Ave and 37th Ave are nicknamed "Little India" and cater to the area's many Indians, Bangladeshis, and Pakistanis. Amongst the dozens of hot buffets and sari retailers, there are a healthy handful of sweets shops, their display cases crammed full of fantastical, neon-colored, silver-laced Indian desserts, known collectively as mithai.
Mithai are not for the faint of heart—Indian cuisine is all about big, bold flavors, and their sweets are no exception. With few exceptions, almost all mithai are tooth-achingly sweet, and most can be boiled down to two main ingredients: some sort of sugar (raw, syrup, jaggery, etc.) and some sort of milk (liquid, solid, condensed, etc). While mithai vary across India, many boast flavors we've come to expect with Indian cuisine: mango, cardamom, rosewater, and various nuts. For cheap eaters, Indian sweets are a total steal: most are priced by the pound, which means that unless you're seriously gunning for diabetes, you can sate your sweet tooth for a few small dollars. Here's a look at a few of our favorites.
About the Author: Jamie Feldmar is a Brooklyn-based freelance food writer and editor. She enjoys ethnic eating adventures and has been warned by waitresses to stop ordering or the table will collapse. You can read more here and follow her (mis)adventures here.