Wednesday, November 14

Food and traditions of Diwali

As a ultra multicultural, Vancouver is often home of many international ethnic cultural holidays and celebrations.
 Last week, Hindu population all over the world celebrated one of the biggest and the most important festivals of their culture and religion - Diwali/Devali, "festival of lights", and so did Vancouver. With a large Indian community, city held many events last week with traditional activities, music and dance. 
The Festival symbolise triumph of good over evil and is celebrated usually in family circles with a lighting of a clay lamps to welcome good goddess Lakshmi and loads of firecrackers to drive away bad spirits.
 It is also a tradition to wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks among friends and family.

Lakshmi goddess

Mehndi - henna hand decorations, represent awakening of inner light

Soma stones are believed to radiate energy

Diwali festival is the most recognizable and therefore most popular among not only kids, by endless amount of sweets and snacks.
I wanted to explore other popular recipes prepared for traditional family suppers at this time of celebration:

Some of those great, festive recipes I collected at a Festival to share here with you.

Carrot halva


4 cups Carrot grated
2 cups Condensed milk
2 tsp Ghee/butter
1/4 cup blanched almonds
1/4 raisins
1/4 chopped cashews (pistachios)
Khoya/khoa - 1/4 cup

Grate carrots on the medium setting at a grater. (It should not be grate on the smallest setting at it will turn into paste during cooking.) Cook chopped almonds, cashews and raisins in ghee/butter for couple of minutes. Add the grated carrot. Cook till soft, add water if necessary. Now, add condensed milk and cook until thick.
Add cardamom powder at the end. Transfer to a serving dish.
Serve hot with ice cream.

Onion bhajias


130 g chickpea flour
4 tbsp natural yogurt
2 tsp garlic, crushed
2 tsp ginger, finely grated
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp hot chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
12 fresh curry leaves*
4 tbsp coriander leaves, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely sliced
olive oil or sunflower oil for baking

Place the flour in a large bowl and add 4 tablespoons of water. Add the yogurt and beat together to create a thick paste. Add the garlic, ginger, cumin seeds, chili powder, turmeric, curry leaves and chopped coriander. Mix well and add salt to taste. Fold the onion slices into the batter, making sure they are well coated. Working quickly, take small pinches of onions well coated in the batter, drop three or four into the hot oil. Cook the bhajias for 20-30 seconds on one side before turning to the other. Continue cooking for about 1 minute, turning occasionally, until they are a golden colour. Remove and drain. Wet your fingers, then pick up another pinch of battered onions and repeat the process. Serve hot.

* If you don't have a curry leaves, substitute them with bay leaves. You can also leave them out of the recipe, but don't replace it with curry powder-that is a spice mix

Fish kofte masala

For kofte:
600 g fresh fish fillets, (cod or haddock, skinned and chopped )
1 slice white bread, soaked in water, squeezed 
1 small potato, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped plus 1 tsp grated ginger
1 tbsp coriander leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt

For the sauce:

4 tbsp olive or sunflower oil
6 tbsp finely ground red onions, processed to a paste in a blender
1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 tsp garlic, crushed
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 can of chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp coconut milk
1/2 cup water

Place all the ingredients for the kofte in a large bowl and combine thoroughly then roll into 5cm diameter balls.
For the sauce: Set a large pan over a medium heat. Pour in the oil and when it’s hot, add the onion paste. Cook for 2 minutes until it starts to turn translucent. Add the ginger and garlic. Cook for few more minutes. Add the cumin, turmeric, chili powder and one teaspoon of salt. Stir for 1 minute, then add the tomatoes. Cook for two minutes, then spoon in the coconut milk and 1/2 cup of water. Bring to the boil and then reduce to simmer. Place the fish balls in the sauce. Cook for 10 minutes, turning them occasionally, then serve.

Aloo paratha

(Potato stuffed flat breads)


For the stuffing:

600 g potatoes, peeled
50 g coriander leaves, finely chopped
5 tsp hot green chillies, finely chopped

For the parathas (flat bread):

300 g/1cup equal mix wholemeal/plain flour or chapatti flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tsp olive or sunflower oil
3-4 tbsp melted unsalted butter or ghee
0.2 ml water

For the stuffing: Peel the potatoes and grate them. Combine the potatoes, coriander, chili and a teaspoon of salt. Divide into 6 equal portions.
For the parathas: Put the flour and ¼ of a teaspoon of salt into a large bowl and pour in the oil. Sift the flour through your fingers to incorporate the oil. Add about 200 ml water little by little, combine with your fingertips until you have a soft but elastic dough. Knead well for about 5 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and cover with a damp cloth, or place in a plastic bag, and leave to rest one hour. Knead the dough once more before forming into 6 equal balls. Lightly dust a work surface with flour and roll out 1 ball into an even  round circle. Take a portion of stuffing and place it centrally on the dough. Pull up the dough around the stuffing until it is completely covered sealing the potato in. Pat the ball between your palms and flatten as much a s you can to a round patty shape again. Place the paratha onto the hot pan. Leave it to cook for 1 minute, flip on the other side. Flip and coat 2-3 more times until the paratha is browned all over. Remove to a plate. Make all the parathas this way.
 Serve with mango pickle.

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