Sweets and Savories For Diwali
Entertaining family and friends is a large part of Diwali, so every home needs to be prepared to provide tasty nibbles for guests at a moment's notice.
Diwali is a time of celebration and apart from the oil lights and candles which decorate homes, the puja and the prayers, special sweets, savories and snacks are central to the festival.
Sweets "mithai", of which the Indians are inordinately fond, are given as presents ". These sweets are made with a combination of any of paneer (similar to cottage cheese), semolina, chickpea flour, thickened milk, wheat flour, coconut, grated carrots and spiced with any of cardamom, nutmeg or cinnamon with nuts and raisins added for texture. Here's a favorite.
1 tin condensed milk
2 heaped tbsp full cream milk powder
Flavorings to taste
1 silver leaf (optional)
Mash the paneer coarsely with a fork and add the milk powder and condensed milk. Mix well.
Heat the mixture in a thick bottomed pan. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens.
Remove from the heat and spread onto a greased baking tray. Sprinkle cardamom powder or slivers of almonds or pistachio nuts on the top. Top with the silver leaf if using. Cool and cut into squares.
Makes: 15-20 pieces
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Sweet and savory snacks are consumed at home and might include pooris (deep fried bread, which puffs up almost to a sphere, made with cumin and green chillies or with sugar and cardamom), samosas (pastry triangles stuffed with spicy peas and potato), half-moon shaped pastries, filled with coconut, nuts, raisins and spices. Here's a taste of both sweet and savory.
250g Gram flour (besan)
300g Powdered sugar
400g Ghee or butter
3tsp Cardamom powder
2tsp Almonds, chopped
2tsp Pistachio nuts, chopped
Heat the ghee or butter in a frying pan. Add the gram flour and stir well to mix. Fry on a low heat until it is pale brown and the flour is cooked. Allow to cool.
Add the powdered sugar, cardamom powder, chopped almonds and pistachios to the flour mixture and form into small balls with your hands.
90g rice flour
120g cup white gram flour
1 tsp Sesame seeds
Sp tsp Cumin seeds
½ tsp Chilli powder
Sp tsp Asafoetida
3 tbsp Oil
Oil for frying
Mix the flours together and add the spices, seeds and salt. Rub in the oil and add water to make a thick dough. Twist the dough into circular shapes.
Heat the oil until a pinch of the dough dropped in, rises to the top with bubbles around it.
Fry until golden brown, turning sometimes and drain on kitchen paper.
Cool and store in an airtight container.
Another favorite snack, which is quick and easy to prepare for guests is Masala Cashew Nuts
Just deep fry large cashew nuts in ghee or oil, drain on absorbent paper and sprinkle with a mixture of salt, red chilli powder and garam masala. Be sure not to try to fry too many at a time or the ghee may initially bubble up too fiercely then cool too quickly, leaving the nuts very greasy.