The ladoo are sweet fried crumbs arranged into little balls: tiny fried gram (chickpea) flour beads bonded and coalesced with the help of sugar syrup and bearing notes of cardamom. They’re almost nutty in flavor, sweet as a doughnut’s sugar-dusted outer edge, and chewy.
Other sweets are crumbly, syrupy, or presented in colors like hot pink and screeching lime. Some are made of boiled milk, others with palm sugar that melts in your mouth. Some are festive with sheets of silver foil.
Behold the counter at Royal Sweets, which glows as though lit from the inside, like some sort of sweets-centric operatic stage, with trays of options in all shapes and colors and sizes, spectacular and sweet enough to set your teeth a jangle.
There are rolls and pinwheels studded with nuts and dried fruits; diamonds of dense, sweet almond or cashew fudge (katli and barfi); fat, colorful, milk solids balls dyed pink, white, and green called “chum chums” and sometimes shaggy from rolling in coconut. Other milk-solids (cheese curd) specialties include fudgy kalakund and kheer mohan, juicy fritters filled with a kind of clotted cream (malai) that look like mascarpone stuffed dates.
There are half a dozen varieties of halwa, not just the iconic carrot halwa, shredded carrot with ghee, cream, and sugar; and two kinds of gulab jamun, the syrupy milk-powder balls soaked in rose syrup that you find on every Indian restaurant dessert menu. And this is one of the best places for ras malai, balls of curd like the softest cottage cheese, bathing in cream delicately flavored with rose water or cardamom and sprinkled with pistachio. They come in a plastic barquette that you carry carefully home.
And should all of this be too much sweetness, or if you simply cannot get over the thrill of pointing and smiling and seeing what turns shakes out (everything is sold by weight), there are also tubs of savory snack mixes, like spiced banana chips, cashews rolled in black pepper, crunchy roasted chickpeas or mung beans, fried little knots of dough, and the loose blend of spicy-crunchy bits and nuts called simply “hot mix.” And samosas and chaat. Let the ambitious be warned: Royal Sweets is overwhelming in the best possible way, and it’s impossible to take it all in during one visit.