What to eat at Diwali
Indian Cookaway Chef Nidhi Verma shares her favourite foods to cook and eat for the festival of lights.
Diwali, the festival of lights, is one of the most important festivals in Indian culture and certainly a food highlight of the year in our family.
Diwali is celebrated around the world by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs and the five-day festival takes place sometime between the end of October and November, depending on the Indian Lunar calendar.
This year, 2020, Diwali begins on 14th November, although preparations and will start much earlier. But what do we do and what do we eat at Diwali? Read on to find out.
Family, fireworks, feasting and fun
Normally at this time of year we travel to the North of India to celebrate with our family and friends. It’s a real holiday, a time to get together, relax, have fun and indulge in guiltless feasting! The markets are bustling more than ever with festival shoppers and the cheery vibe is infectious. It takes me straight back to my childhood days shopping for sweets and small cracker toys.
At Diwali there are always many parties to attend which feature tables heaving with vibrant and elaborate food, and beautifully lit with many tiny candles. We hold firework displays and exchange presents and sweets while the children become ever more frenzied with excitement!
A festival of sweets – sweet treats to eat at Diwali
Sometimes Diwali feels more like a festival of sweets, as we exchange these traditional Indian snacks as gifts and graze on them all day long with cups of masala chai. Since childhood, my favourites have been the melt-in-the-mouth Motichoor ke ladoo – the most quintessential Diwali sweet – made with besan (ground chickpea flour) and sugar syrup. Also nothing beats a warm bowl of homemade Carrot Halwa – a sweet Indian pudding made with carrots, milk, sugar, ghee and nuts.
The main menu – what I like to eat
A Diwali party would not be complete without a satisfying and fragrant tandoori dish. As a starter or for something to nibble on I love making Tandoori Paneer Tikka with my homemade Paneer, delicious served with emerald-green coriander mint chutney.
Traditionally we cook vegetarian food on the third day of Diwali as we welcome Goddess Laxmi, goddess of prosperity and wealth, into our houses. I love to make a true Punjabi-style Dal Makhani – creamy slow cooked black lentils with aromatic spices – served with jeera rice and a zingy pineapple mint raita. These dishes always make my Diwali recipe list because they are such crowd-pleasers.
Obviously this year our celebrations might be a bit different as we won’t be able to visit our family in India. Instead, I’ll take a trip to my wonderful local Asian market to buy my ingredients, lamps, and colours (coloured sand, rice, powder and petals) for making the traditional Rangoli patterns in front of our house. And I will probably stock up on some extra sweets, just to be on the safe side.
Wishing you and your family happiness, prosperity and joy this Diwali.
Your invitation to our Diwali Cookalong
Join Nidhi Verma in a live, online Cookalong to celebrate and indulge in the spirit of Diwali on Thursday 5th November, 2020 at 6pm GMT.
Nidhi will be showing you how to cook one of her favourite Indian menus – Tandoori Chicken with fragrant Lemon Rice and Coriander Mint Chutney.
You’ll learn new skills and discover more about Diwali as you cook along from your own kitchen, before sitting down to enjoy this delicious and authentic Indian menu.
The event is free to join, simply order your Tandoori Chicken box for delivery on Wednesday 4th November and we’ll email you the link to join us on Zoom. Your box will also include some free Diwali goodies so you can celebrate in style!
See you there for food, fun and festivities.