food

RW Mithai Mandir, Little India: “What better way to celebrate the sweet taste of victory than with dessert, right?”

Last Updated: November 4, 2021

Written by Sonia Lourdes

Diwali, or Deepavali, is an ancient Indian festival of lights—a celebration of good triumphing evil. The colourful occasion is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains all around the world yet its food is rarely talked about. So, what better way to celebrate the sweet taste of victory than with dessert, right? 

I braved the crowded and wet streets of Little India to head down to RW Mithai Mandir, a mithai (sweet) shop to get a range of sweets apart from the common ones you may know about. Move aside gulab jamun, laddu, and jalebi, today’s a day for the masses to learn more about the traditional Indian sweets which have been in the shadows for far too long. 

Photo of stall front Photo of sweets in stall

There are other mithai shops around the area but this quaint gem—located directly opposite the Indian Heritage Centre—is one of those that’s been left behind due to the popularity of the bigger names. Well, not on my watch. 

Disclaimer: this piece may trigger your sweet tooth. 

What I tried

Photo of mixed sweets

This is why I love Diwali. The colours, the lights, and most importantly, the sweets. The sweets usually range in shape, colour and flavour, and they all taste simply divine; I can only think of stuffing my face with everything at one go right now. A ½ kg box of sweets from RW Mithai Mandir will set you back only S$25

Photo of Barfis

Let’s start with Barfi; usually cut in a diamond or square shape, barfi is a milk-based sweet with fudge-like consistency that’s popular in Northern India. They’re made with khoa (or condensed milk) and sugar but it’s also common to find them mixed with many flavours like coconut, chocolate, almonds, pistachios, and topped with edible silver leaves. 

Photo of Milk Barfi

Milk Barfi is my go-to during Diwali or weddings. Pop a piece in your mouth and you’ll realise the soft little milk-based fudges taste like baby formula, I’ve no idea why but they just do. It’s not too sweet or crumbly but this treat will make you wonder how two simple ingredients can be elevated into something so pretty yet taste absolutely divine. One thing is for sure, the one at RW Mithai Mandir sure takes me to a happy place. 

Photo of Chocolate Barfi

Like the milk barfi, Chocolate Barfi is milky and flavourful however, it’s more on the sweeter side. This one’s for all the chocolate lovers and kids out there. Personally, I’m not a fan of chocolate, so I usually skip this. 

Photo of Dodha Barfi

Here’s one that’s usually unheard of, the Dodha Barfi. This soft and grainy barfi is made with milk, heavy cream, sugar, nuts, or dried fruits and oodles of ghee. Dubbed Punjab’s pride, it is extensively prepared during winter and is additionally chewy than the other two. Taste-wise it’s not as sweet as the chocolate barfi and definitely pairs well with your afternoon tea. I guarantee it will please your taste buds with every bite as it did with mine. 

Photo of boondi laddu

Okay, I know many of you know what a laddu is but did you know that there are various types of laddu around? 

Here you have a Boondi Laddu. Similar to the usual yellow balls of goodness you can find during Diwali or at weddings, the boondi laddu has one exception, they are deep-fried, soaked in a simple syrup then formed into little balls. They also have a dark orange tint, are sweeter and have a little bit of a crunch to them which is amazing. Boondi? More like, bomb-di because they’re explosive!  

Photo of kalakand

Another popular Indian sweet is the Kalakand. Also known as milk cake, it is soft and moist, and has a delicate yet grainy texture—made by the reduction of milk and sugar with the addition of cardamom powder. The complex and highly fragrant cardamom powder takes a little bit of getting used to but one thing’s for sure, it definitely melts in your mouth. 

Collage of kaju roll

Kaju Roll is essentially a cylindrical-shaped mithai prepared from powdered cashews and pistachios and is very popular during Diwali. Personally, I love kaju rolls a lot because it’s not too sweet. The creaminess of the roll also gives off a well-balanced yet nutty aftertaste, just the way I like it. Having too much of it during one seating will definitely leave you parched, so remember to go easy. 

Photo of balushahi

Ever heard of Indian doughnuts? Well, here they are. The Balushahi—also known as Badushah—is made of all-purpose flour, and deep-fried in ghee then dipped in sugar syrup. One piece is usually enough because they are very sweet and have a slightly flaky texture. However, if you can’t get enough of extremely sweet treats, this one is definitely for you. 

Photo of Kesar Peda and Milk Peda

Peda is a round, semi-soft and grainy milk-based fudge that’s usually made with condensed milk or milk powder. They are commonly distributed in temples but they can be eaten at any time anywhere. 

Photo of Milk Peda

Like barfi, peda’s are milky but more sticky and chewy. The original consists of just milk and sugar, which makes it taste eerily similar to the White Rabbit candy that we can easily find in supermarkets. 

Photo of Kesar Peda

Another commonly found peda flavour is the soft and creamy Kesar Peda. They resemble mini sunflowers and are made from milk, sugar and saffron. Saffron, as you know, has a sweet and floral taste but when it’s added to milk, it produces a sweet flavour akin to honey. This is one sweet treat, you can’t miss out on.

Photo of jangiri

Often mistaken as a jalebi baby, we have the Jangiri. The thick, flower-like shaped mithai is made of urad dal as opposed to all-purpose flour and is known to be jalebi’s healthier cousin. Although both are fried in hot oil then dipped in sugar syrup, their preparation differs. The Jangiri’s here are more gooey and chewy, as they should be and have a sweet rose-flavoured aftertaste which is brilliant! 

Final thoughts

Not subject to being devoured only during Diwali, you can also have the various sweets on a regular day with a hot cup of chai at RW Selmor Restaurant which is located behind their mithai stall. I do hope your next mithai-indulging experience will be a fulfilling one especially now when you know the various types of names and flavour profiles of each sweet treat.

It’s quite difficult to find a stall that serves really good mithai but RW Mithai Mandir has lived up to giving us only the best to satisfy our taste buds. This is one mandir (temple) I’ll religiously visit. 

Expected damage: S$3 – S$40 per pax

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Price: $ $

Our Rating: 5 / 5

RW Mithai Mandir

48 Serangoon Road, Little India Arcade, #01-68, Singapore 217959

Price
Our Rating 5/5

RW Mithai Mandir

48 Serangoon Road, Little India Arcade, #01-68, Singapore 217959

Operating Hours: 10am - 10.30pm (Daily)

Operating Hours: 10am - 10.30pm (Daily)

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