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Diwali Specials
The Diwali spirit is catching on. Schools are closed. Shops are offering festival discounts. Buyers are on a shopping spree. Buildings and streets are already lit up... The much awaited festival of lights is here -- and so is the festivity, fun and those special Diwali mithais.

Traditionally, Diwali is a series of four days of celebration. Beginning with Dhantraiyodashi, little clay lamps are lit as an offering to God to ward off evil spirits and to usher prosperity.

The second day is Narak Chaturdashi. It was on this day that the evil demon Naraksura was slayed by Lord Krishna.

Laxmi Pujan is celebrated on the third day when the family gets together to pray and thanks God for all the blessings of the previous year. This is also to welcome the New Year the following day, when businessmen start new account books. Families visit relatives and friends and exchange gifts and sweets. It is an auspicious day for new beginnings and also marks the beginning of the wedding season.

Like other festivals, food plays an important part in Diwali celebrations. Traditional dishes are painstakingly prepared for the family to relish. Jalebis, karanjis, chaklis, fafdas, chirotis, shankar palas, milk and dry fruit based sweets are the most common and favourite delicacies.

Nowadays, however, most people buy their Diwali goodies from various shops stocking ready-made fare in keeping with the break-neck speed of living. Just mention preparing time-consuming traditional sweets, and today's home-maker is likely to tell you the merits of the friendly aunt who sells these home made goodies. Alternatively, she is likely to give you some advice about the demerits of fat-laden traditional sweets.

Liberalisation has brought with it a sea of change in the life of the common man, widening horizons in every possible area of his life. Our food habits have been greatly influenced due to this exposure but in keeping with the true Indian spirit, we have imbibed the better part of these influences hence enriching our heritage.

To retain the spirit of festivity as well as combine it with today's pace of life, I have worked towards creating recipes that adapt to changing tastes using healthier ingredients. Yet as time moves on and tastes change, the demand for variety is ever growing. Part tradition and part culinary innovation blended into successfully tested combinations and colourful presentations set these Diwali delicacies apart. There are some mithais that generations have savoured over all these years. Here are some Diwali favourites:

Mango Pie

Preparation time: 40 minutes.
Cooking time: 10 minutes.
Serves: 6.

For the crust:

8 to 10 Marie biscuits
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

For the filling:

1 litre milk
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon fresh cream mixed with 1 tablespoon milk
1/2 tea cup mango juice 1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Other ingredients

1/2 tea cup mango pulp

For the crust:

  • Crush the Marie biscuits lightly in the dry grinder.
  • Mix the crushed biscuits, butter and sugar and press the mixture evenly into a 175 or 200 mm diameter tin.
  • Place in the refrigerator until firm.
  • For the filling:

  • Put the milk to boil. When it starts boiling, switch off the gas and wait for a while. Add the lemon juice and when it curdles, drain.
  • Add the cream, milk, sugar and mango juice immediately and grind in the grinder.
  • How to proceed:

  • Spread the filling over the crust.
  • Chill for half-an-hour.
  • Just before serving, spread the mango pulp on top. If you like, pipe some cream on the border and decorate.
  • Serve Cold
  • Kaju Barfi

    Preparation time: 15 minutes.
    Cooking time: 10 minutes.
    Makes: 20 pieces.

    50 grams cashewnuts
    400 grams sugar
    1 tablespoon rose water
    a pinch saffron
    a little milk
    silver foil


  • Soak the cashewnuts in 1 litre of water for 2 to 4 hours.
  • Drain and grind them into a paste in the grinder.
  • Add sugar and cook the mixture on a slow flame until of a dough-like consistency. Add rose water if the mixture is too hard.
  • Warm the saffron in a small vessel, add a little milk and rub until the saffron dissolves.
  • Cool the dough mixture slightly and add the saffron mixture. Mix very well.
  • Spread the mixture evenly on a smooth surface.
  • Spread silver foil over it.
  • Cut into diamond shaped pieces and serve.
  • Pistachio Roll

    Preparation time: 10 minutes. No Cooking. Makes 4 to 6 rolls

    100 grams paneer
    4 teaspoons milk
    2 tablespoons powdered sugar
    2 tablespoons roasted pistachios
    1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
    a few drops rose or kewra essence (optional)

    For decoration:

    chopped nuts or silver foil

  • Put the paneer, milk, sugar and cardamom powder in the grinder and blend well.
  • Grind the pistachios in the grinder.
  • Shape the paneer dough into small rolls.
  • Roll into chopped nuts and cover with silver foil.

    Tarla Dalal

    Design: Dominic Xavier