Eating Sweets At Diwali
Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, celebrates the triumph of good over evil. The festival is traditionally associated with fireworks, decorations and lights. It is a time when Hindus around the world take time to remember the story of the God Rama returning home after spending 14 years in exile. As well as being celebrated by the Hindu community it is also part of the annual calendar for Sikhs, Jains and other religious groups.
Diwali is a time for friends and family to come together and spend time in each other’s company. And as with any big festival in India,food plays an integral role. Mithai, or sweets, are made by the entire family in the lead up to Diwali – and these are the sweetest of sweets. Sugary, syrupy, soft, and flavoured with coconut, nuts and saffron – they are every sweet-lovers dream. Here is a pick of some of the favourite sweets eaten, gifted and enjoyed at Diwali.
Jalebi: With their vibrant orange colour and irregular pretzel-like shape, jalebis have a crisp yet chewy texture. The batter is deep-fried in oil to give the sweet its distinctive crunchy outer shell. Eaten either hot or cold, jalebiare a firm favourite during Diwali – as well as any other time of the year, too.
Laddu: A sweet treat enjoyed at many a festival, there are a number of different varieties of laddu. The balls of dough made from flour and sugar can be flavoured and decorated with grated coconut or ground almonds. These balls are fried in ghee until they are golden.
Rasmalai: Hailing from the state of West Bengal, rasmalai is made from powdered milk, eggs and flour. This dough is moulded into flattened balls before being soaked ina milky cream flavoured with cardamom, saffron, rose water or pistachios.
Kajukatli: Made from a mix of cashew nut paste, sugar and cardamom which is cooked and then spread across a flat plate or dish. The mixture is then cut into diamond shapes – a characteristic of the sweet – and decorated with silver leaf. A variation of this sweet is kajupistakatli which also contains pistachio nuts.
Peda: These are the sweets that are traditionally offered to the gods and then distributed to festival revellers. Made from thickened milk and sugar, peda are flavoured and decorated with cardamom, pistachio or saffron. The end product comes in all shapes, colours and sizes.
If you are keen to get involved with this year’s Diwali celebrations, but don’t have the time to make your own sweets, you can always buy them. London’s popular chain of Indian brasseries serves a range of delicious Indian sweets which are reasonably priced. You can buy the sweets to eat yourself and to give as gifts – so make sure you purchase enough. These Indian brasseries also do a fantastic selection of street food, thalis and authentic Indian dishes too. Diwali takes place just once a year so you might as well make the most of it -and the best way to celebrate is with food.