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Queens Sweets Shops Do Big Business During Diwali

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

People are lined up to get their sweets at Delhi Palace on 74th St. in Jackson Heights. People are lined up to get their sweets at Delhi Palace on 74th St. in Jackson Heights. (Abbie Fentress Swanson/WNYC)

The houses of many New Yorkers of South Asian descent will be lit up with colorful lanterns this week for the Festival of the Lights. During the Diwali holiday, which is observed by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains for five days, sugary confections and snacks are given as gifts and shared at home among family and friends.

While some people make their own ladoo, mithai or barfi or order them from India or Nepal, many buy their sweets in Jackson Heights, Queens.

"It has been busy for the last four days," said Sukhdev Bawa, the owner of Maharaja Sweets and Snacks, which sits at 73-10 37th Ave. between 73rd and 74th St. "I don't say, but people say that our sweet is — the quality is — No. 1. That's why we have a lot of people waiting in line."

Kulwant Deol waited in the back of the shop with his friend Gurcharan Baring to buy eight boxes — about 14 pounds — of sweets to give away to friends and relatives.

"We're buying the sweets and rasgulla, ladoo and other stuff," said Deol, a Sikh from Punjab, India who now calls Jackson Heights home. "We celebrate Diwali today, one of the best festivals for our community."

Around the corner at Delhi Palace on 74th St., lines for sweets were out the door at lunchtime.

"We are selling here traditional sweets like ladoo, jalebi, millet cake — very traditional sweets," said Sonia Challa, who works at the shop. "Yesterday very busy. Today also."

Challa's shop has a Diwali special going this week: $6 gets for one pound of mixed sweets that includes sohan papdi (a flaky sweet with cardamum), mysore paak (made of ghee, sugar and gram flour), barfi (a fudge-like sweet that comes in many colors/flavors with or without silver or gold leaf), pink cham cham (made from cream, sugar, rose water or saffron), gulab jamun (a spherical ball made with rosewater syrup or saffron syrup or honey), chandrakala (which contain almonds, powdered sugar, cardamom and saffron) and kalakand (made from sweetened milk and cottage cheese).

Another sweets shop and restaurant near the corner of 74th St. and 37th Ave. has also been doing good business during Diwali.

"Everybody wants to buy sweets because this is a tradition," said Roosha Javed, who works behind the sweets counter. "They give gifts to each other so we are selling a lot of sweets."

Javed said though she was Muslim from Rawalpindi, Pakistan, she wished her Hindu friends well for Diwali.

"It's a Festival of Lights," she said. "It's very important to our Hindu friends. We are from Pakistan but we celebrate with them."

Check out a slideshow of sweet Diwali eats below.

Delhi Palace on 74th St. in Jackson Heights, Queens has been busy selling sweets during Diwali. Here, chandrakalla, green and yellow sweets with silver foil and pink cham cham.
Abbie Fentress Swanson/WNYC
Delhi Palace on 74th St. in Jackson Heights, Queens has been busy selling sweets during Diwali. Here, chandrakalla, green and yellow sweets with silver foil and pink cham cham.
More pink cham cham, gulab jamun and burfi with gold leaf await buyers.
Abbie Fentress Swanson
More pink cham cham, gulab jamun and burfi with gold leaf await buyers.
People are lined up to get their sweets at Delhi Palace on 74th St. in Jackson Heights.
Abbie Fentress Swanson/WNYC
People are lined up to get their sweets at Delhi Palace on 74th St. in Jackson Heights.
Delhi Palace has a Diwali special: one pound of mixed sweets for $6 (not including kaju rolls, kaju barfi and kaju katri).
Delhi Palace has a Diwali special: one pound of mixed sweets for $6 (not including kaju rolls, kaju barfi and kaju katri).

Top row (left to right): sohan papdi (a flaky sweet with cardamom), mysore paak (made of ghee, sugar and gram flour) and barfi (a fudge-like sweet that comes in many flavors with or without silver or gold leaf).

Bottom row (left to right): pink cham cham (made of cream, sugar, rose water or saffron), gulab jamun (a spherical ball made with rosewater syrup or saffron syrup or honey), chandrakala (which often contains almonds, powdered sugar, cardamom or saffron), and kalakand (made of sweetened milk and cottage cheese).

The Delhi Palace is a small sweets shop on 74th St. between 37th Ave. and 37th Rd.
Abbie Fentress Swanson/WNYC
The Delhi Palace is a small sweets shop on 74th St. between 37th Ave. and 37th Rd.
Sukhdev Bawa, the owner of Maharaja Sweets and Snacks, handles several Diwali orders.
Abbie Fentress Swanson/WNYC
Sukhdev Bawa, the owner of Maharaja Sweets and Snacks, handles several Diwali orders.
The buffet at Maharaja Sweets has been turned into a holding area for besan ladoo, mysore paak and patisa.
Abbie Fentress Swanson/WNYC
The buffet at Maharaja Sweets has been turned into a holding area for besan ladoo, mysore paak and patisa.
Diamond shaped pistachio burfi for sale at Maharaja Sweets.
Abbie Fentress Swanson/WNYC
Diamond shaped pistachio burfi for sale at Maharaja Sweets.
A worker carries an order of 14 pounds of sweets to a customer.
Abbie Fentress Swanson/WNYC
A worker carries an order of 14 pounds of sweets to a customer.
Sweets dressed up with silver leaf.
Abbie Fentress Swanson/WNYC
Sweets dressed up with silver leaf.
Kulwant Deol samples a chandrakalla before purchasing eight boxes of mixed rasgulla, ladoo and chandrakala to give to friends and family for Diwali.
Abbie Fentress Swanson/WNYC
Kulwant Deol samples a chandrakalla before purchasing eight boxes of mixed rasgulla, ladoo and chandrakala to give to friends and family for Diwali.
A mixed box of chandrakala, which contain almonds, powdered sugar, cardamum and saffron, among other ingredients.
Abbie Fentress Swanson/WNYC
A mixed box of chandrakala, which contain almonds, powdered sugar, cardamum and saffron, among other ingredients.
All sweets -- like these cham cham and burfi -- are priced by the pound.
Abbie Fentress Swanson/WNYC
All sweets -- like these cham cham and burfi -- are priced by the pound.
The Maharaja Sweets and Snacks shop has been selling pounds of pounds of sweets for the past four days.
Abbie Fentress Swanson/WNYC
The Maharaja Sweets and Snacks shop has been selling pounds of pounds of sweets for the past four days.
A Happy Diwali banner hangs on 74th St. in Jackson Heights, Queens.
Abbie Fentress Swanson/WNYC
A Happy Diwali banner hangs on 74th St. in Jackson Heights, Queens.

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Comments [2]

fardowsa

eid mubarak asxabey

Oct. 25 2012 01:21 PM
Daljeet Singh Sidhu from Chandigarh

Unfortunately, in India news about adulterated milk and milk products have kept large number of people away from sweets made from milk. This year we mostly exchanged dry-fruit like the California almonds with friends and family instead of mithai.

Oct. 27 2011 08:02 AM

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