The holiday Diwali or Deepavali, commonly known as the festival of lights, is celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs around the world and it’s a time to celebrate the victory of light over darkness, goodness over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. The food aspect is just one of the many fascinating elements of the vibrant occasion. Here are some of the most common foods of Diwali.
Sweets are very centric to Diwali and one of the most common kinds of food served during the celebration. Indian sweetmeats, known as “mithai” are a cross between snack, dessert and confectionery. They are nibbled throughout the day, on their own, with masala chai or as part of a meal alongside savoury items.
Some of the base ingredients that are used include chickpea flour, rice flour, semolina, lentils, carrots, thickened condensed milk and yoghurt; cashew nuts, almonds, pistachios, or raisins are then added. Spices like saffron, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves or nutmeg are common in sweets, as are ingredients like coconut, rose or kewra (pandan leaf) water, saffron and even vegetables. Expensive ingredients like pistachios and almonds are saved for Diwali and many of the sweets are deep-fried with sugar and ghee.
This Diwali festival food is a light and flaky dessert pastry. Chirote is prepared with flour, ghee, and suji, stuffed with a sugary filling, deep-fried, and either drizzled with sugar syrup or sprinkled with powdered sugar after being drained. If you’ll be making these treats from scratch, always remember to use hot ghee when you’re making the dough. If the ghee is not hot enough, it will affect the crunchiness of the pastry.
A samosa is a fried or baked pastry with a savoury filling, such as spiced potatoes, onions, carrots, peas, lentils, cheese, minced lamb or minced beef. Its size and consistency may vary, but typically it is distinctly triangular or tetrahedral in shape. Remember to make sure the oil doesn’t get too hot, though, to prevent the pastry shell from burning before the filling is cooked fully.
Many of the savoury dishes are fried, which means oil is used and the heating up of the oil is synonymous to the celebration of lighting and burning something for the event.
Large-grain cracked wheat sautéed with ghee and sugar known as “lapsi” is very popular, and may be accompanied by a curry of yard-long beans which, due to their length, symbolise longevity. Made of broken wheat pieces and ghee along with nuts, raisins and dry fruits, it is an easy to make and nutritious. Serve it hot and garnish with blanched almonds and pistachios.
Wishing a Happy Deepavali to all who are celebrating!