As a child the festival of Diwali was always about the celebration of food, friends, shopping and of course Lakshmi Pooja. Praying to Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity is a big part of this festival. And because no way is India a homogeneous country there are many stories surrounding Diwali. Communities around the world have their own traditions but the one common thread, the one thing that this festival usually revolves around is delicious food.
I remember how a few days before the start of the big festival my mom would make festive treats to share with friends and family. Special decorated trays would be assembled and my brother and I would take them around the neighbourhood. A lot has changed over the years. For one we drive around to exchange gifts!
Since my hubby and I moved to Canada we’ve tried to retain many traditions of our childhood and at the same time create our own new ones. That’s why you’ll often find me in my kitchen recreating the flavours of my childhood so my kids can experience the same warmth that I did growing up. At the same time I seek out shortcuts to get OUT of the kitchen, so I can catch up with the fun my kids are having outdoors.
Homemade Diwali Snacks
The years of moving around the world has taught me that often the best Indian food is made at home. This is especially true in the case of Indian sweets, mithai. So a few years ago I started to cook traditional sweet dishes at home. Simple, wholesome and delicious sweets and snacks that I knew the kids would love. And because I’m a great believer in achieving the same results faster, healthier I’ve found quick shortcuts so I can actually get to enjoying Diwali as it should be – not in the kitchen.
Here are my 4 favourite Diwali sweets that together will make an impressive tray to share with your loved ones.
Plain or Almond burfi. Cardamom-scented creamy ricotta burfi with just a hint of sweetness, topped with toasted almonds. This elegant Indian sweet has a smooth fudge-like texture and made at home means one can control the sugar and fat. These little pieces of heaven will never be a health food and take time and patience to pull together. But with homemade khoya (the building block of so many Indian sweets) that you can make from scratch using ricotta cheese, you can impress even the most discerning palate (Mom, are you reading this?)
On the other end of the spectrum of elegant Indian dishes are these Rustic pedas. Made with chopped pistachios this dessert is forgiving and oh so homey. The caramelized colour camouflages all mistakes and with their grainy-fudge-y texture, the peda is both decadent and easy to make.
Pumpkin seeds are delicious snack bites on their own. When toasted and candied these are full of flavour and make a perfect addition to any Diwali tray. And once Diwali is over they can be used in a ton of different ways – on top of salads, and curries, on hummus and all kinds of soups.
Roasted and candied nuts are a traditional gift for loved ones on Diwali. Considered both luxurious and nutritious, nuts are a popular snack in many parts of India. And when you toast them with brown sugar (using the same recipe as for pumpkin seeds), the end result is a delicious gift that you will be proud to share with your friends.
I hope these homemade Diwali snacks have inspired you to make your own Diwali trays this year. My advice though is to make more than you think you will need because there will be sampling. That’s it from me! From my home to yours, Happy Diwali!