Diwali immediately conjures up in the mind the rows of lamps lit outside one’s home, along with the small decorative colourful bulbs with an “Akash kandil” (lantern); and of course the sweet and savoury aroma in the air of loads of treats being made.
As the days of Diwali approach, each home goes into a frenzy; cleaning their homes, decorating it with rangolis (beautiful designs made with colourful powdered minerals) and then planning and cooking up a feast.
Just the full moon before Diwali, we celebrated the Kojagiri Purnima(full moon) which incidentally this year fell on Halloween! For us, it was the first time to carve out the pumpkins and enjoyed a foodie treat so very typical to this day back at home. The treat is the flavoured milk or basundi, served with pohe (beaten rice) chiwda or the hot batata vadas (the Bombay burger as mentioned by Anthony Bourdain).
This year too, as the moon was yet to make its appearance thanks to the overcast skies, we made do with the Jack-o-lantern and our feast of the day of Basundi and the piping hot Batata vadas; just the two of us sitting indoors with the spread on the dining table. Did we miss the fun? No, not at all! When it comes to the eating part, we had our fill and the satisfaction of having “milk”, Pohe, Vadas on the Purnima evening! Of course, reminiscing of our childhood memories, about how we spent this evening with families and friends outdoors enjoying the beautiful moonlight.
Coming to Diwali, we have had the spread of karanjis (A sweet dumpling made with coconut), ladoo (sweet balls made with roasted chickpea flour in ghee (clarified butter), shev (chickpea flour savouries), chiwda (made with beaten rice, tempered with curry leaves, peanuts, green chilies), chakali (spiral savouries), shankarpale (diamond shaped snack which could be sweet or salty), and then, of course, Mathias and Chorafali (the Gujarati snacks which have become a part of our lives).
This year along with the fried coconut karanjis, I tried making a baked version too, stuffed with paneer (cottage cheese) and homemade cranberry moramba (jam); and I must say that it turned out so well. For this recipe, I used the readily available pastry dough, and while it thawed to room temperature, I made the filling.
Paneer was grated and added to the pan over the stove, and to it I added some evaporated milk. As the mixture heated up, it got into a dough-like consistency which signalled the time to switch off the heat (a couple of minutes). I then allowed it to cool before I added the fresh, homemade cranberry jam – mixing it thoroughly. The sweetness was just right! The pastry was rolled and then cut into roundels. I filled them up with the stuffing, shaped them into a semicircle, and cut off the edges with the brass roller, a family heirloom. They were then ready to be baked for about 12 minutes on both sides at approx. 190 C. This greatly reminded me of the Jul stjärna or joulu tähti! The food memories that one carries from the places one has lived.
A feast was enjoyed this Diwali time which also brings back home memories and all the mythological tales as to why this is celebrated. An underlying thought is of it bringing light to our lives and the triumph of good over evil.
Happy Diwali folks! From our family to yours!
With the gleam of the Diyas, And the echo of the chants
May Happiness and Contentment Fill Your life…
Engineer by education,
passionate photographer & food enthusiast from India,
presently based at Burlington, Canada is happy to contribute this column
which combines her love of food & photography.