Diwali: The Festival of Lights is a five day celebration amongst Indians and also marks the onset of a New year in accordance with the Hindu calender. It is celebrated with much gaiety and grandeur.It is aptly called so,as celebrations are marked with fireworks and lighting of lamps called “Diyas”, signifying the triumph of good over evil and ushering prosperity, success and good cheer into one’s homes.
Worship ceremonies include that of praying to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, making of sweets and savories, visiting family and friends with gifts and partaking in indulgent feasts.These can be quite extravagant, with the table filled with special dishes and desserts.A true celebration of fun, frolic and sweet treats!
This year however ,our Diwali celebrations in Toronto have been quite subdued due to the challenging times we are living in.Our family had a quite celebration at home with a few sweet treats that I managed to make up, and wished our family and friends virtually.
“Gratitude Is The Healthiest Of All Human Emotions. The More You Express Gratitude For What You Have, The More Likely You Will Have Even More To Express Gratitude For” -Zig Ziglar
Here Are Some Of The Sweet Treats That We Celebrated With This Diwali:
1. Gajar Ka Halwa:
Any celebration is not complete without a traditional Gajar ka Halwa.This is essentially a delicious and rich carrot pudding made with grated carrots, milk, ghee (clarified butter),sugar, dried fruits and homemade mawa ( recipe included) to be cooked together. The carrots used for a halwa should be preferably the red variety most often found in the winter months (available in the Indian stores in Canada) You could however use the orange ones if the red are unavailable.
What is Mawa?
Mawa or khoya is dried evaporated milk solids. The milk is simmered in a large cast iron pan until all its moisture evaporates and it reduces to solids. Mawa forms a base of almost all Indian sweets.
- 500 grams Carrots (peeled and grated)
- 550 ml Milk (full fat)
- 100 grams Ghee
- 200 grams Sugar
- 8-10 Almonds ( blanched and slivered)
- Few raisins
- Pinch of saffron
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
- 60 grams mawa (crumbled)
- Heat the ghee in a heavy bottom pan.
- Add the grated carrots and sauté them for about 8-10 minutes.
- Next add in the milk and cook this mixture till the carrots softens and the mixture is dry. Keep stirring till milk is fully condensed.
- Then add in the sugar, it will seem quite wet again and hence keep cooking on a low flame till the halwa looks fairly dry.
- Now add in the cardamom powder and the saffron.
- Lastly stir in the crumbled mawa.
- Turn off the heat.
- Mix in the raisins and cashew nuts.
- Garnish with slivered almonds.
- Can be served hot or cold.
Mawa: Dried whole milk
Easy way to make up some mawa:
- 200 grams milk powder ( full fat)
- 40 ml Milk
- Muslin cloth
- Knead the milk powder with a little bit of milk at a time.
- Keep doing this till a soft dough has been formed.
- Tie the ball into a muslin cloth
- Add water into a pressure cooker. Place a trivet in it.
- Keep the muslin cloth in a small bowl over the trivet.
- Shut the cooker without using the weight and steam the dough for about 15-20 minutes.
- The mawa is now ready.
2. Date Cake with Rabri:
Have you attempted combining a couple of recipes together? I must admit I’ve turned into quite the experimental junkie of late,turning my kitchen into a food lab of sorts. Here I have created a fusion recipe of sorts. Almost to the point where I don’t quite follow a particular recipe but happy to tweak it and create a unique new combination all together.This one defies any categorization as I’ve followed the classic Sticky Date Cake recipe (made into smaller individual portions by using a removable bottom cheesecake mold) and instead of the usual Toffee sauce (which is quite decadent in itself) have combined it with a traditional Indian twist.
A brilliant pairing of creamy Rabri drizzled over the mini cakes,makes it quite a delightful and an unusual dessert.
What is Rabri?
Rabri is a sweet, condensed milk based dish made by boiling the milk on low heat for a long time until it becomes thick in consistency. Sugar, spices and nuts are added to it to give it flavor. It is chilled and served as dessert.However I’ve simplified this process by making this in a microwave.
225 grams dates
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
85 grams Butter (softened)
170 grams sugar
2 medium eggs
170 grams Self raising flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
2 tablespoons Plain Yogurt
1 teaspoon grated ginger
Pre heat the oven to 180 C.
Put the dates in a bowl with the soda and cover with 200 ml boiling water.
Let this rest for about 5-9 minutes so as to soften the dates.
Drain off the water and puree the dates in a food processor.
Cream the butter and sugar till pale.
Add in one egg at a time and mix well.
Sieve the flour and cinnamon powder together and add to the above mixture.
Stir in the ovaltine and mix well and add the grated ginger.
Lastly fold in the yogurt and pureed dates.
Pour the mixture into a removable bottom mini cheesecake mold.
Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until done.
Once cool remove from the molds and pour some Rabri over each one.
For The Rabri:
1 Cup Milk
1 Cup Paneer grated (cottage cheese
1/2 Cup Condensed Milk
1/4 teaspoon Cardamom Powder
1 teaspoon Ghee
Mix all the above ingredients in a microwave safe bowl.
Microwave for about 6 minutes.
Refrigerate and chill for two hours.
Pour over the stick date cake.
3.Rice Phirni: Rice Pudding
Phirni is a traditional Indian sweet pudding made in north india on festivals like Eid, and on other celebratory occasions. Phirni is made with ground Rice, or if made with whole rice is termed as “Kheer”. The phirni made with whole rice is also similar to Chawal Ki Kheer. Traditionally served in small earthen bowls but can be served in ramekins as well. Phirni is one of the most favourite indian dessert recipes to make on occasions.
Ingredients of Phirni: Milk thickened with rice flour and flavored with cardamom, almonds and pistachios. I have used some strawberries as well. This popular dessert is served in most Indian households on various festivals and celebrations.
- 250 Ml milk
- 2 tsp rice flour
- 2 tbsp almonds, chopped
- 2 tbsp pistachios, chopped
- 2 green cardamom (crushed)
- 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
- Fresh strawberries (for garnish)
- Heat the milk in a pan till it come sto a boil and then the heat to low.
- Next add in the rice flour and sugar. Stir it.
- Continue stirring till it is fairly thick.
- Add the chopped dry fruits.
- Pour the mixture into ramekins.
- Garnish with chopped dry fruits and crushed cardamom and fresh strawberries.
- Chill for 2-3 hours and serve.
Wishing all those who celebrate a very Happy Diwali. Hope this festival of lights illuminates our lives with much love, peace, happiness and good health. All good wishes for success and prosperity. Let us be kind and gentle with each other as we could all do with that in these challenging times.
We celebrated a quite Diwali this year, all the same I have a heart that is filled gratitude and feel blessed to be with my family and friends here in Toronto.