Malaiyo – Seasonal Varanasi Dessert Foam

By Mark Wiens 10 Comments
The lively streets of Varanasi, India
The lively streets of Varanasi, India

While walking around the main streets of Varanasi, I couldn’t help but notice huge pots and pans full of a yellow fluffy substance topped with little green sprinkles.

A vendor in Varanasi serving maiyoo - a foam milk dessert
A vendor in Varanasi serving maiyoo – a foam milk dessert

Every now and then someone would stop by, grab a quick clay cup full, and speedily nurse it down with a sigh of satisfaction, before smashing the clay cup on the ground (just like the chai in Kolkata).

It's not hard to spot a vendor that serves maiyoo in Varanasi
It’s not hard to spot a vendor that serves maiyoo in Varanasi

I was of course interested to test it for myself, and without having a clue as to what this Indian street food was, I ordered a serving.

Soon I learned it is a sweet Indian dessert called malaiyo, and it’s a winter sweet treat specifically famous in Varanasi as opposed to other parts of India.

Ready to eat Maiyoo!
Ready to eat Maiyoo!

In order to handle the crowds of pedestrian foot traffic on the streets of Varanasi (video), the malaiyo vendor had dished out about 20 or so clay cups and lined them up on the top of his street food cabinet, all of them waiting to entice a customer.

I grabbed one from the line, paid my 10 Rupees ($0.18) and stood on the side of the extremely chaotic road for my first taste.

Maiyoo - delicious suds!
Maiyoo – delicious suds!

It tasted like egg nog, thick and creamy, but had the texture of airy foam – it was that light. Within the milk there was lots of cardamom, giving it a lovely flavor and on top were a few slivers of pistachio nuts.

I really thought I was eating soap suds, but it was creamy, buttery, and full of cardamom.

If you are traveling to Varanasi in the winter month, take a walk away from the Ganges River and onto the main streets where you’ll find vendors serving up huge pans of malaiyo!



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  • Apurv Mishra

    3 years ago

    Hey Mark, thnxs for pstn Malaiyo.
    Iam n hyderabad right nw, studyn and miss Varanasi vry much ur post brought bck the memory tht how me and my frnd use to go erly n morning arund 4-4:30 am, jst to hv ths.. ;);););)

    • Mark Wiens

      3 years ago

      Hi Apurv, thank you very much for reading, hope you’re doing well.

  • Arti

    4 years ago

    The post brought back memories of my multiple visits to Varanasi!! Its a very delicious dessert 🙂

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Thanks Arti, glad it brought back memories, I really enjoyed how light it was!

  • Franca

    4 years ago

    I must go to India, the food simply looks (and I’m sure tastes) amazing! I had a taste of Indian food in other part of the planet, but I’m pretty sure that it’ll be different and hopefully better in its own country!

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Hey Franca, glad you love Indian food too, you will definitely enjoy eating in India!

    • Pratik

      1 year ago

      Well.. You must visit India at least once in your lifetime
      And if you are a foodie and a lover of Indian culture you must visit Kolkata!