If you go down to Hoppers today
You're sure of a big surprise,
If you go down to Hoppers today
You'd better close your eyes,
For every sweet that ever there is
From Gujurat, Bengal or Uttar Pradesh
Can be found right here at Sweet India's counter.
I wish I could tell you that I am in the habit of cruising lonely industrial estates in the outer suburbs (well, actually, I am glad that I cannot tell you that!) but this was a tip-off from my dear friend Sue. She told me tales of how at festival times on the Indian calendar, the lines outside this Hoppers Crossing factory snake right down the block.
Sweet India make all their Indian sweets and savouries on the premises, just out the back. To get served, you grab a deli-counter style ticket before picking and mixing the sweets you'd like. Remember getting mixed lollies as a kid? This is just as fun!
I am a big fan of Indian sweets wherever they might be, but Sweet India's really are at the next level. It's hard to get good pictures through glass, but check out the beautiful, cassata-like "kaju bullets" rolled in edible silver...
...or the ones on the top right, like big chunks of sweet salami.
When I was writing this story, I had a great chat to Venkat Kollu, who is director of marketing at Sweet India. He is very proud that all the sweets are made with whole milk that is reduced to the required consistency (a laborious process by all accounts) versus using shortcuts like condensed or evaporated milk.
Sweets in India have regional variations, and Sweet India aims to cater to all. The south is represented by these laddoo, studded with raisins (on the left in the pic above), as well as Mysore pak, a fudgy variety made with ghee and lentil flour.
Venkat let me try some dhokla, a specialty from Gujurat in the west. In this part of India, folks particularly enjoy the contrast of sweet and savoury flavours.
This is a cool, spongy, savoury cake made of chickpea flour, served in a sweet/tangy dressing and dusted with mustard seeds, green chillies, coriander and coconut. Very different and very delicious!
Sweets from eastern India are a weekend-only affair at Sweet India. This region likes its sweets very juicy and moist, which means they have a shorter shelf life than fudge-like burfi or Mysore pak. I loved these katcha gola - don't they look like the most divine hors d'oeuvres, like little quail's eggs sprinkled with parsley?
Venkat insisted I try this ras malai - a cool, spongy cake in cardamom-flavoured, sweetened milk. It was luscious.
Here was my haul! On the left is ice-cream burfi, so called because it melts in your mouth like ice cream. This burfi really is sublime - it alone is worth the drive.
How squee-worthy are these?! They are made of cashew paste (like marzipan), painted with edible paints and have a clove for a stem. They're actually quite plain in flavour, but aren't they just gorgeous to look at?
Sweet India do a range of savouries like spicy masala cashews, crunchy fried chickpeas and lentil flour twists, but the one thing I saw everyone leaving with was a bag of samosas. Yes, the filling may not look that enticing, but these are fantastic samosas, with chunks of potato and cashew, entwined with fenugreek leaves.
Factory 9, 1-3 Kilmur Road, Hoppers Crossing
Phone: 9369 6694