Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

mithai, meaning a “sweet,” derives from the Sanskrit mishta (sweet) and is a word universally understood in India, despite the country’s huge variety of languages and dialects. It is the most joyful word in the Indian culinary universe, not only connoting items with a sweet taste, but also evoking a sense of social communion, festivity, sharing, and celebration. Although items eaten during religious celebrations are often called mithai, the term has no religious overtones. For Hindus and Muslims, the two main religious communities of India, as well as for others, mithai constitutes an integral part of gustatory pleasure. See india.