June 30, 2023
Posted: October 24, 2022 8:49 am
Fall is a veritable festival of celebrations. From Halloween and Thanksgiving to Samhain and beyond, we find ways to hail vivid colors, shorter days, and the end of the year with frivolity and good food associated with these gatherings.
What is Diwali?
Diwali means, “Festival of Lights”. It symbolizes the triumph of light over darkness, knowledge, and good over evil and ignorance. Typically celebrated on the darkest night of the Hindu calendar, this five-day extravaganza celebrates goodness, love, and light.
People celebrating Diwali prepare for this days-long party by cleaning their homes, performing religious rites, participating in prayers, and preparing delicious feasts for family and friends. There is no standard fare in Diwali celebrations, and much of the food preparation is left to personal expression by those planning meals and parties. If you have the responsibility of hosting or planning a celebration, consider these delicious Diwali dishes guaranteed to wow your crowd.
Many sweets adorn the traditional Diwali table, signifying the concept of good over evil. It is not uncommon to see several variations of pillowy-soft goodness adorned with various sauces, creams, and nuts. Gulab Jamun is a perfect example of one of these confectionary creations.
Light, airy fritters are fried at a low temperature and soaked with an essence of rose, cardamom, and saffron. This ultra-sweet dessert will have you licking the serving spoon to make the experience last longer on the tongue.
An Indian staple, the samosa is one of the most popular savory snacks that is often featured at Diwali celebrations. An array of fillings is lovingly tucked between flaky pastry dough and served alongside both sweet and savory sauces.
A good samosa, such as the Samosa with Tamarind and Date Chutney, is both flaky and crispy, with a rich filling that is enhanced by a substantial sauce. This chutney boasts excellent flavor notes of tamarind and dates, offering a sweet/tart mixture that dances on the tongue.
Who says Diwali confections have to be bad for you? This special dessert is both subtle yet divine, with mild flavors and an overall sweetness that blends well with strong spices and hearty nuts.
Gajar Ka Halwa is a traditional Indian pudding comprised of sweet grated carrots and a warm array of spices. This labor of love allows you as a chef to display your culinary expertise as you seamlessly blend creamy, sweet, and nutty into one smooth and delicious dish.
Aloo Matar Tikki is a staple in many Indian households. Best eaten when piping hot, these delicious potato cakes are stuffed with peas on more festive occasions and adorned with an array of strong spices and pungent herb aromas.
The Aloo Matar Tikki served in celebrations are enhanced with a wonderful whipped pea mixture and dressed with spicy cilantro chutney. Although the recipe is a multi-step process, potato cakes can be formed and frozen ahead of time and deep fried when you are ready to serve.
Cheese is nature’s almost-perfect food. Used in dishes, sprinkled on dips to enhance flavor, and melted over any combination of ingredients, its presence is celebrated by young and old for the creamy texture and tangy flavor that it brings to the table.
Paneer is an uncultured, fresh cheese that is used in all types of vegetarian dishes. A wonderful addition to malai kofta and saag paneer, you’ll love the simple preparation and clean ingredients that go into this flavorful, creamy Diwali staple.
While you’re able to get a serving of freshly-prepared Jalebi on the streets of India any day, they are typically prepared for special occasions such as Diwali, Holi, and Eid. Originally brought to India by Persian explorers, they have been officially adopted as one of the most delicious confections in India.
The ideal Jalebi is comprised of a fermented batter, crispy on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside. As the fermented batter is fried, a delicious little miracle occurs when saffron-flavored syrup slips inside the hollow dough. Delicious!
Chaat means “to lick” in Hindi. The flavor combination of this dish is certainly clickable. Crispy chaat is composed of besan, rice flour, sweet potato, and a warm, spicy cocktail that warms the soul.
This Sweet Potato Pakora Chaat’s warm flavor is perfectly balanced by a sweet-tangy mixture of tamarind chutney and cool yogurt. Perfectly adorned with pomegranate seeds, sev, and cilantro, the multitude of flavor layers will fast become a crowd-pleasing favorite.
It is not uncommon for various types of Ladoo to adorn Diwali tables in an array of sizes, colors, and flavors. A festive, hand-held treat, the ladoo is a tightly packed round of crunchy, moist goodness that packs a small yet powerful punch of flavor.
A succulent combination of coconut powder, condensed milk, and pistachios makes for a sweet, creamy ending to a Diwali meal. Small enough to justify more than one treat, the ladoo tradition will continue to grace Diwali celebrations for years to come.
Tikka is a traditional kebab dish that is usually made with chicken. Originally introduced to India by the Moghuls, the dish was quickly adapted to feature local tastes and variations of traditional Indian spices and seasonings.
Paneer Tikka Kebabs are a wonderful option for your vegetarian guests. Thick slices of paneer are marinated in traditional tikka spices and charred with vegetables. Decadent, rich, and smoky, this dish can be served as an appetizer with fresh chutneys or as a main course.
Although Indian cuisine takes much of its inspiration from the transient Moghuls, much of it had to be adapted to meet Hindu vegetarian dietary requirements. This rich meatball dish can fool the most discriminating carnivore.
Malai Kofta is a vegetarian meatball served in a rich, pungent, cream sauce. The “meatballs” are actually a clever vegetarian combination of potato stuffed with a mouthwatering mixture of nuts, paneer, and dried fruit.
Kheer is considered the gold standard of rice puddings. Traditional variations of this dish involve slow simmering milk for hours until it reaches a custard-like consistency and rich flavor.
Thanks to the innovation and creativity of this recipe’s creator, cooks can escape the kitchen in a fraction of the time it takes to make traditional Kheer. Although this recipe is every bit as creamy and delicious as the standard, adding rice to the milk before bringing it to a boil helps form its thick, creamy texture in half the time.
Papdi Chaat falls into the category of savory street snacks enjoyed across the Indian countryside. Papdi are fried wafers that add a wonderful crunch to the soft ingredients of this dish.
A savory, creamy mixture of soft-boiled potato, chickpeas, and spices stands in stark contrast to crunchy papdi. Out of papdi? Substitute round tortilla chips in their place, and you’ll still be getting rave reviews at your next Diwali feast.
Burfi is another Diwali tradition. Gold leaf-lined trays hold its fudge-like goodness, with a base recipe of whole milk, sugar, ghee, milk powder, and spices setting the stage for confectionary genius.
A simple addition of grated coconut, lemon, pistachio, or almond can kick up the flavor of burfi, elevating your dessert experience. Some new burfi recipes include the addition of rich, dark chocolate, which is never a disappointment.
Beans and lentils have been a staple in Indian diets for centuries. A largely vegetarian diet calls for creative ways to ingest protein and complex carbs, and dishes featuring beans simmering in rich sauces have taken center stage at simple meals and festivals alike.
Dal Makhani is a creamy, buttery bean and lentil dish with a long history. Rumor has it that this dish put India’s first restaurant, Moti Mahal, on the map. Cooks who attempt to slow simmer this dish can customize the spice factor and cater to taste preferences. Regardless of how hot or mild you like it, you’ll appreciate the way this delicious dish sticks to your ribs.
Get Ready to Celebrate!
This array of rich Diwali dishes presents you with a myriad of options with which to wow your family and friends at any fall gathering. Open the door to wonderful Indian culture and cuisine, and let the fun begin!
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