Staff, 2022-10-20 12:00:57,
Visiting a South Asian sweet shop during Diwali is a joyous and chaotic experience. Lines trail out the door. Employees furiously pack ornate boxes containing laddoos enriched with ghee, spongy rasgula and all manner of colorful sweets, often made with dairy, sugar and nuts and sometimes topped with a layer of edible silver foil. Friends and relatives meet around the display cases by happenstance, exchanging good wishes. Diwali, which will be celebrated within South Asia and among its diaspora on Oct. 24 this year, commemorates the triumph of light over darkness. Central to that celebration is mithai, or sweets. Mass-produced mithai are readily available online, but these five independent shops make their sweets by hand every day, offering their local South Asian communities a taste of the familiar. Diwali is their prime time.
Maharaja Sweets, Jackson Heights, Queens
When Sukhdev Bawa immigrated to New York in 1981, his first job was driving a taxi. “My wife thought it was too dangerous,” he said. So he switched over to the sweets business, working for two other shops before starting his own. At Maharaja Sweets, which he opened on a busy stretch of Jackson Heights, Queens, in 2000, he prepares snacks like mathi, deep-fried dough rounds that can be sweet or savory.
Bawa’s employees travel to India frequently to bring back ideas for regional sweets to add to the menu, like anarkali, a Bengali sweet filled with cherry and pistachio, and rose bahar, squares filled with…
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