In addition to being one of our 10 best vegetarian restaurants, Bhojan also sells some of Manhattan’s best mithai. The traditional Indian sweets are available in a glass display case at the front of the restaurant, where they lay in wait under a pale, flattering glow.
Bhojan offers several varieties of mithai; after stuffing ourselves senseless on dinner there last night, we restrained ourselves and picked out three to take home. We chose, pictured clockwise from bottom left, peanut and cashew peda, kaju pista, and saffron peda. They’re priced per pound, and the cost came to $5.75, including tax.
Peda originated in Uttar Pradesh and are traditionally made with khoa (a so-called milk food), sugar, and flavorings. The peda at Bhojan are mild and not overly sweet, and have the consistency of Play Doh, but in a good way. The peanut-cashew variety tasted faintly of peanuts, but the saffron peda had the unmistakable flavor of saffron, with a slightly savory edge.
The kaju pista — cashew rolls stuffed with pistachio and adorned with silver leaf — had an almost identical consistency to that of the peda, and their vibrant green innards were redolent with nutty warmth. Altogether, the mithai we sampled were a pleasingly mellow lot, comforting and unassuming in the manner of porridge or halvah.
But beware: Although their diminutive size could lead one to believe they easily rate only a pair of Skinny Jeans, these things are dense enough to take up significant gastro real estate. Swallowing them down in rapid succession can, we can tell you from experience, put a decisive end to an otherwise beautiful love affair. Proceed with caution, and reap the rewards.
102 Lexington Avenue
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