Scottsdale's Pastries N Chaat showcases a wide variety of Indian sweets. For less than $8, walk in and sample a potpourri of the same desserts sold by small and large vendors in India. It's an adventure for the uninitiated, and evokes a sense of nostalgia for those who've already tried these delights.
During weddings and other special occasions, jalebi is a popular item to serve guests. Deep-fried fermented maida flour is soaked in a sugar syrup and served either hot or cold. Pastries N Chaat offers the cold version of the dessert, but the crisp texture wasn't compromised. The crystallized sugar coating wasn't overbearing, but harbored an ample amount of deliciousness.
The kaju rolls house a mixture of cashews and pistachios. They are often a staple during Diwali and other religious gatherings. Condensed milk, butter, rose water and cardamon are added to the blend and each roll contains a handful of chopped nuts. This Indian dessert is the American equivalent of fudge and neither the pistachios or cashews took center stage. Both flavors were equally represented. The rolls were soft and didn't have the aftertaste of ghee (clarified butter) - which is a sign they were fresh.
If you aren't ready for a more complicated, decadent Indian dessert, try kaju katli. The main ingredients are cashews, sugar and ghee. Cashews are soaked overnight and then grounded to make a paste. A separate sugar syrup is made and combined with the paste. Saffron and dried fruits are optional ingredients that can be added to highlight the flavors of the cashews. The paste is then flattened and cut into diamond pieces. It is the signature shape of kaju katli. It will appeal to the minimalist who doesn't want to analyze a fusion of flavors, but seeks to only feast on one predominant ingredient - cashews. The version at Pastries N Chaat wasn't unique or fancy, but captured the essence of this dessert.
In India, pedas are gifted to family and friends when a baby is born. It's the sweet that indicates auspiciousness. Usually cut into thick circles, pedas are made out of dried milk, cardamon, saffron and pistachio nuts. They are typically yellow in coloring, but can also have an off-color white hue too. Think of shortbread cookies, but flavored with exotic spices. This is an iconic Indian sweet, but some might find the it too sweet and overwhelming. These particular pedas were subtle, doughy and a hint of saffron added the right amount of sweetness.
The mawa barfi was a favorite. Topped with colored pieces of whole nuts, it magnified the dense snow-white squares. The contents are simple, but enticing. Condensed milk is combined with sugar and the barfi can take the personality of the ingredients you choose, from chocolate, peanuts or coconut. The textures are interesting as they land on your tongue, but comforting. This barfi tasted authentic, similar to what you could find in the pastry shops of India.
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We ended our tour of Indian desserts with boondi ladoo. Although on first glance, these didn't look as appealing, they tasted better than their appearance. These desserts are not for those who are watching their cholesterol - each small dot of batter is deep-fried and then doused into syrup and smashed together to create a rounded ball, a ladoo.
Pastries N Chaat
15050 North Northsight Boulevard, Suite #101, Scottsdale
Other locations include Phoenix, Tempe and Chandler
Monday – Thursday 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. / 4:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Friday and Saturday 11:30a.m. to 2:30 p.m. / 4:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. / 4:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.