‘Diwali’ translates as ‘rows of lighted lamps’, and in India it is known as the festival of lights because the custom is to fill homes and buildings with ‘diyas’, or earthenware lamps. It’s a wonderful festival to introduce into your family calendar, not least because it brings some brightness and cheer to darker nights. It is also a great learning opportunity for the family: finding out about some of the colourful and magical Hindhu deities; getting crafty; and making and eating delicious food!
Check out our five ways to celebrate Diwali:
1). Fill your house with light!
Solar powered fairy lights make a wonderful addition but to really capture the magic, why not light candles around the house – out of reach of little fingers of course! Indians traditionally use ‘diyas’ which are small earthenware oil lamps. You could try making your own from clay: roll a ball of clay and make a depression in it for a tealight candle, or for older kids, you can use the coil pot method. Decorate with coloured paints.
2). Create Rangoli floor pictures
Rangoli is a traditional sacred folk art from India used to decorate floors during Hindhu festivals. Patterns are created with materials such as coloured rice, sand, flour, or flower petals. Try making your own using “these ideas to get you started”:http://www.deepavali.net/rangoli.php.
3). Make a Diwali lantern
This is a really fun project for little ones and you can really enjoy yourselves and fill the house with strings of coloured lanterns. You can also decorate your lanterns with sequins and shiny paper. Check the latest edition of The Green Parent for a “lantern project”:http://thegreenparent.co.uk/about/subscribe or BBC have some “simple instructions”:http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/lets-celebrate/makes/lets-celebrate-diwalilantern/ for a basic lantern.
4). Learn a mantra together
Mantras are sounds, syllables, or words chanted repeatedly with the intention of creating positive transformation and peace. Research shows that they have a profound effect on our wellbeing. Why not learn or write a mantra for your family and set it to a simple tune. “This one”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbCBJ05gdwc is lovely to sing together.
5). Have an Indian feast
Perhaps one of the most well-known but misunderstood cuisines, Indian food is more than just biriani and bhajis! There are so many different feasts to enjoy from across this vast subcontinent – why not get together with friends and family and bring a dish each.
OUR FAVOURITE DIWALI RECIPES TO CELEBRATE THE INDIAN FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS
Start your day the Indian way with a mango lassi. This delicious yoghurt drink is a meal in itself.
Large pot of plain organic yoghurt
I large mango
Honey to sweeten if desired
Ice cubes to serve (optional)
A few sprigs of mint (optional)
Peel and dice mango and blend with the yoghurt in a mixer. Strain through a sieve and serve in glasses with ice and a sprig of mint. Yummy!
Diwali is not only a festival of lights, it’s also a festival of sweets! And Indian sweets can be VERY sweet. So we’ve come up with an alternative to the sticky sugary delights on offer – still tastes delicious but a little more nutritious!
2-3 fresh apricots
Large handful of dried fruits of your choice
1 tbsp ghee
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
Unsalted pistachio nuts, to decorate (optional)
1) Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
2) Blanch the fresh apricots in a pan of hot water for a few minutes, the remove the stones and whiz in a food processor.
3) Add the dried fruits, ghee and cardamom and continue until ingredients have formed a soft dough.
4) Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough onto the baking sheet and chill for a couple of hours in the fridge.
5) When ready to eat, cut into squares and decorate with pistachios.
VEGETABLE NILGIRI KORMA (from www.indianfoodforever.com)
1/4 cup coriander leaves (dhania patta) chopped
10-12 curry leaves
1 tblsp garam masala powder
1 potato (aloo)
1/2 cup green peas (matar) shelled
10 french beans
12 tblsp groundnut (moong fali) oil
2 medium onions
1 capsicum (shimla mirch)
salt (namak) to taste
1 carrots (gajjar)
2 tomatoes (Tamatar)
for masala paste
1” ginger (adrak)
1 tsp cumin seed (jeera)
2 tblsp poppy seeds (khuskhus)
12 cloves (lavang) garlic
6 red chillies whole
1/2 cup coconut (narial) scraped
2 tblsp coriander seed
2 tblsp fennel (saunf) seed
How to make vegetable nilgiri korma:
1) Wash and cut all the vegetables into equal size pieces.
2) Cut the onion.
3) Wash and puree the tomatoes.
4) Heat up two tablespoon of oil and fry the paste ingredients till light brown, cool and grind to a paste with little water.
5) Wash and cut the coriander leaves.
6) Boil the potatoes, cauliflower and carrots till half done in salted water.
7) Remove and keep aside.
8) Heat up oil in pan and mix in the onion and fry till golden brown.
9) Wash and mix in the curry leaves and masala paste.
10) Fry till the oil separates.
11) Mix in the vegetables and continue stirring.
12) Pour out the tomato puree and bring to boil.
13) Mix in two cup water and simmer (boil slowly at low temperature) till the vegetables are cooked and the gravy is thick.
14) Sprinkle the garam masala, stir well.
15) Serve nilgiri kurma hot.
BEETROOT HALWA (from www.padhuskitchen.com)
Prep time-under 15 min
Cook time-under 30 min
Serves - 2
Beetroot grated - 2 cups heaped
Sugar -3/4 cup
Milk - 2 cups
Cardamom powder -1/4 tsp
Almonds/Badam - 10
Cashew nuts - few
Ghee - 1/4 cup
Unsweetened Khoa/khoya - 100 grams (optional)
1) Wash, peel the skin and grate beetroot.
2) Put almonds in boiling water (blanch almonds), remove the skin and pat dry. Cut into thin strips.
3) Heat a tsp of ghee, fry cashew nuts and put them aside.
4) In the same pan, heat a tbsp of ghee, add grated beetroot and fry it till the raw smell goes.
5) Then add 2 cups of milk and cook the beetroot on low flames, stirring in between. Cook till the beetroot becomes soft and all the milk evaporates.
6) Then add sugar, khoa and cook till sugar dissolves and gets mixed well with the beetroot.
7) Add cardamom powder, remaining ghee and cook for a few more seconds.
8) Garnish with cashew nuts, almonds and mix well. Serve hot or warm.
Note - Khoa is prepared by boiling milk in a heavy bottomed pan in low flames until it is thickened. I boiled 2 cups of milk in low flames until it thickened. You get ready made khoa also. Khoa is added just to give richness to the halwa and it is totally optional.
Using full fat milk gives richness to the halwa.
You can add blanched almonds or roasted almonds.
You can grate beetroot using the grater with fine holes or bigger ones according to your preferences.