The special prayers offered to Goddess ‘Lakshmi’, the excitement to try the brand new ethnic wear, the mouth-watering sweets and savories, the visual treat of watching scores of oil lamps decorating houses, and finally the loud noises of the crackers which never seem to cease. Perhaps, these are the memories which most Indians would recite when asked about Diwali. This auspicious occasion is one of the most anticipated and popular of the dozen festivals belonging to Indian culture. According to sources of Hindu mythology, this festival was first celebrated by the residents of the kingdom ‘Ayodhya’ to welcome their king ‘Rama’, who returned home after a 14-year exile along with his queen ‘Sita’. These sources also claim that it’s since Rama’s return that this festival is being celebrated every year in a grand manner.
One of the most important aspects of Diwali, other than the lamps, and the tradition of gift exchange, is the preparation of sweets. In an era where most people pamper themselves with donuts and burgers, this festival also gives an opportunity for modern day Indians to explore the desserts which our culture has to offer. These are few such mouth-watering delicacies. Try venturing into the kitchen this festive season, and experiment with your cooking skills. Else, if cooking is a really Herculean task for you, these sweets are also easily available at confectionary stores.
Dry Fruits Burfi
This sweet which mainly consists of Almonds, Cashew nuts, walnuts and raisins, is not just nutritious, but is also low on sugar and fat. Hence you can pamper yourself with this Burfi without worrying much about the calories.
Coconut ‘Khoya’ Laddoo
Unlike most ‘Laddoos’, which is another popular Indian sweet, this one is prepared using grated coconut, and ‘Khoya/Khoa’ , a dairy product most commonly used in the Asian sub-continent, and easily available in the market. Fine balls are made out of the mixture of ‘Khoya’ and coconut. Chopped dry fruits or chocolate chips can also be added to this mixture to make this sweet tastier.
This sweet is made using maida flour. Maida flour is mixed with water, making it turn into a paste. Semi-circular molds are then made out of chunks of the maida paste. Grated coconut is mixed with Jaggery, and stuffed into these molds. The edges of the molds are sealed and deep fried in oil. This sweet is not just popular during Diwali, but also prepared during many such festivals.
Milk Peda, or the ‘Dudh’ peda, is yet another sweet which is famous during Diwali, and often given away as a gift to loved ones. Its prepared using condensed milk and milk powder.
You might have heard of this one. Most Indian festivals or auspicious occasions are considered incomplete without Gulab Jamun. This is yet another sweet where Khoya is required. However, if you don’t find Khoya to prepare this one, you can buy one of the instant Gulab Jamun preparation packets from the nearest store. These can be prepared using milk powder balls. These milk powder balls are deep fried until they turn brown, and are usually served with sugar syrup.
This is one of the most expensive sweets amongst the various options available at most confectioner stores. However, this sweet can be easily prepared at home at a significantly lower cost. Almonds have to be ground into finely powdered flour. The flour has to be fried in a pan, along with milk and sugar. The mixture has to be constantly stirred to make a fine paste. The paste is then removed from the stove, poured on a tray, and refrigerated. The refrigerated paste has to be removed from the fridge after a while and cut into desired shapes.
Another famous sweet belonging to the ‘Laddoo’ category is the Besan Laddoo. The key ingredients are ‘Besan’ or chickpea flour, crumbled Khoya, Sugar, cardamom powder, ghee and raisins (used for garnish). Sugar has to be finely ground into a powder. The Besan flour is heated on a pan along with ghee. The heated flour has to be removed from the flame, and mixed with Khoya, Cardamom and sugar. Fine balls are made out of this mixture and served.
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to adorn the cooking hat and get started. For all you know, this Diwali might turn out to be sweeter than intended.