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Diwali kitchen: Top Indian-American chefs share their fav recipes

November 10, 2015 14:10 IST

Arthur J Pais invites North America’s leading desi chefs to offer their best recipes for Diwali.

Surbhi Sahni

Surbhi Sahni is the co-founder and owner of Bittersweet, New York City.

Her creations are inspired by her childhood as well as her knowledge of Eastern and Western styles, and her experience in various New York restaurants for the past 15 years.

She enjoys inventing desserts by using traditional Indian ingredients, such as curry leaf, cilantro, ginger and cardamom, and a blend of Indian, European and American pastry techniques.

Here she shares the recipe for cookies made from Besan ke ladoo.


Besan ke Ladoo ke Cookies

Here's an interesting fusion take on a traditional Diwali sweet recipe.

Yield: 2 dozen

Time: 50 minutes



Hemant Mathur

Michelin-starred chef Hemant Mathur is owner of the Tulsi and Fine Indian Dining Restaurant group, New York City.

This recipe was created for Diwali.


Soybean, Spinach and Lentil Croquettes with Tomato Salsa

A healthy, vegan Diwali snack!

Makes 24 patties

Time: 1 hour



Tomato Salsa



Monica Bhide

Monica Bhide calls herself a storyteller: 'I bring you a feast of tales about food, love, life and culture. I write cookbooks and novels.'



Semolina Idlis with Mustard Seeds

Yield: Depends on idli mould used

Time: 35 minutes


For the batter

For the tadka


How to make the the idlis

How to serve

Vikram Vij and Meeru Dhalwala

Vikram Vij and Meeru Dhalwala are chefs and co-owners of Indian restaurants Vij's and Rangoli in Vancouver, British Columbia.


Spiced Chopped Kale and Potatoes

This is a healthy and delicious vegetarian dish, or appetiser, for those of us living in North America, where organic kale is abundant.

The red tomatoes and green kale add a wonderful colour to this dish.

While all of the spices are Indian, the combination of ingredients is slightly different from the traditional curries with greens and potatoes

The kale will shrink in size after cooking, but you will have to use a large pot to accommodate the raw kale.

We normally serve this kale dish with chapatti at our restaurants, but at home we enjoy mixing this curry into 1 and 1/2 cup cooked Basmati rice and serving it as a Vegetarian Pilaf with Raita on the side.

Serves: 4

Time: 30 minutes



Vikas Khanna

Vikas Khanna is an award-winning, Michelin-starred, Indian chef, restaurateur, cookbook writer, filmmaker.

This recipe is taken from his cookbook Indian Harvest.


Diwali Persimmon-Vanilla Cobbler

During Diwali my maternal grandmother would always send a basket of fruits.

It would be wrapped in colour transparent paper and secured with golden ribbons.

Through it I could see the perfectly glossy persimmons.

Either too firm or too ripe. Either too astringent or too sweet.

In grocery stores they are available in the fall, generally of 2 types; hachiya or fuyu. You can use any firm kind.

Cobbler is one of my favorite desserts, easy to make with so many fruit combinations.

In this recipe, the tangy sweet delicate flavor of persimmons is enhanced by rich smooth vanilla and topped with buttery crispy pastry: A comforting end to a perfect meal.

Serves: 4 to 6

Time: 1 hour 15 minutes



Maneet Chauhan

Maneet Chauhan is a cookbook author, Iron Chef contestant and owner of the Chauhan Ale and Masala House, Nashville, Tennessee.


Malpua stuffed with Gajar Halwa and garnished with Rabri and Pistachio

A rich but traditional take on a typical Diwali sweet.

Makes: 5 cups batter, 1 quart halwa

Time: 1 hour


For the cake

For halwa filling

For rabri sauce

For pistachio dust


For the cake

For halwa filling

For rabri sauce

For pistachio dust

To assemble

Hari Nayak

Hari Nayak is a chef, restaurateur, cookbook author and culinary consultant.

He authored the best-selling book Modern Indian Cooking.

Recipe adapted from his latest cookbook The CafeSpice Cookbook from Tuttle Publishing 2015.


Coconut Fudge or Nariyal Barfi

Diwali all about gift giving and sweets. I wanted to combine both.

The recipe is so easy to make that it can make a great handmade special gift to your friends and family.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

Time: 40 minutes



Raghavan Iyer

Bombay-educated, Emmy-winning chef Raghavan Iyer acquired a degree in chemistry before he switched career tracks.

A television docu-maker, restaurateur, member of The James Beard Foundation, he is the author of several award-winning cookbooks including Betty Crocker’s Indian Home Cooking.


Funnel Cakes or Jalebis in Saffron Syrup

No other sweet is more synonymous with Diwali than Jalebis and for that matter it is just as popular year-around.

Diwali evokes a need for labour in the kitchen, an extra bit of time to fashion something that is deemed time-consuming.

This recipe is all that without the labour. But it will generate a perception of being slaved-over anytime someone sees a platter of these at the Diwali table.

A common sight, especially on the streets in northern India, are vendors hunched over a gargantuan wok with hot oil as they pipe, with impressive dexterity, oodles of these funnel cakes, called jalebis, and flipping them in one melodious motion from the oil to the syrup, and then stacked onto platters.

Those juicy, crunchy cakes beckon passersby as they go about their business, and one is usually hard-pressed to turn that temptation.

Sweet, crunchy, aromatic, and slightly sour, this is one of my favorites, and it always leaves me feeling guilty because I cannot stop at one.

Makes: 8 to 10 funnel cakes, serves 4

Time: 1 hour cooking, 2 to 3 hours rising


For the funnel cakes

For the saffron syrup



Alamelu Vairavan

Alamelu Vairavan has worked in long-term care facilities and as a holder of a Wisconsin Nursing Home Administrator’s license she has been a consultant for many Wisconsin healthcare facilities.

She attempts to educate folks on the role of legumes and spices in creating healthy, delectable foods.

Vairavan has published a few books on South Indian cooking.

Excerpted from Recipe from Healthy South Indian Cooking by Alamelu Vairavan & Patricia Marquardt, published by Hippocrene Books, New York.


Bell Pepper and Tomato Rice with Cashews

This colourful, nutritious rice dish is delicious by itself.

A great rice dish to serve on festive occasions like Diwali and also with Thanksgiving dinner.

Serves 4 to 6

Time: 40 minutes



Jehangir Mehta

Jehangir Mehta is a television food show personality, cookbook author, executive chef and owner of New York City restaurants Graffiti, Me and You, and Mehtaphor.


Hibiscus Jamun

Flowers such as rose, hibiscus, lily are part of Persian culture, and pairing them with jamun, which is so Indian, is my way of showcasing my Persian Indian heritage.

The spongy texture of the jamun simply melts in the mouth, unleashing an intoxicating hibiscus perfume.

Makes 12 jamuns

Time: 30 minutes


For the hibiscus syrup

For the jamun




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Arthur J Pais
India Abroad