Come November and the festival of lights Diwali is here to light upto not just your home but also your dining table.
An important part of Diwali festivities is food and this is the time when tradition rules the roost. While there is an immediate association with special sweets or mithai, savouries, snacks and vegetarian fare is also on the menu. In many households in India, the five day celebration sees different food being made as well. This is also the time when food becomes a key part of the celebrations – so it is time to loosen up and soak in the food in all its glory.
Being one of the most loved festivals in India, Diwali is the time to binge and the time when traditional sweets come to the forefront. Kheel Batasha, a sweet puffed rice with sugar drops is a popular sweet in Delhi while Mawa Kachori from Rajasthan a delectable deep fried Kachori stuffed with dry fruits and dunked in sugar syrup is a must have in Diwali. Moti Pak a specialty of Rajasthan and Gujarat made with sugar, khoya and chickpea flour, Chiraunji ki Barfi and Madhya Pradesh’s chironji ki barfi is a must on the occasion of Diwali. Teepi Gavvalu (Andhra Pradesh), Anarsa, Karanji and Shankarpale (Maharashtra) and Gulgule which is a wheat flour dumpling is eaten across North India. In Tamil Nadu, deepavali marundu or legiyam, a dessert that helps in digestion of all the excess food typically eaten on the festival while Ukkarai a Chettinad dish made from chana dal, jaggery and roasted is also a festival special. Thenkuzhal that means ‘tubes of honey’ is another special in Tamil Nadu. An Oriya specialty Rasabali made with cottage balls soaked in sweet thickened milk is another regional specialty.
Apart from sweets, the main food cooked during Diwali is essentially vegetarian. While North Indian cook, dishes like Alu Channa made with potato and chick peas, Saag (a spinach based dish), Dal Maharani, a dal dish with three variants of dal, Navratan Korma made with vegetables and paneer, Khasta Aloo or curried potatoes, usually eaten with Pooris, Malai Wali Subzi Kofta made with diced cabbage and spinach balls and Nariyal Aur Badam Wale Chawal which is coconut Basmati rice dish that teams with Raita or plain yoghurt with raw onion and cucumber. Vegetarian curries like Undhiyu a mix of seasonal vegetables is also popular. Poha, or flattened rice locally known as fau is prepared in five different ways on Diwali in Goa. Dumvale Suran made with yam is eaten on the night of Diwali in the central part of India. Bengalis eat Choddo Shaak on the day before Kali Puja which is made using 14 different leafy greens. South Indians have a meal that comprises varieties of mixed rice dishes, dry vegetable preparations called thoran usually tempered with coconut, rasam, sambar and payasam, a milk based dessert that can be made in many ways. Traditional meals are usually well balanced and include many natural digestives too. Savouries made with refined flour like Mathari is also a must in the season. Diwali is the time to bond with family and food is a great leveler. This Diwali make that connect at home and what better way to build a relationship for a lifetime than through food?