Diwali or Deepawali is, I think, one of the biggest and brightest festivals celebrated in India lasting for 5 days of festivities. It started as a welcome to Lord Rama from his 14 years in exile and his victory over the demon king Ravana. It symbolises the celebration of a triumph of good over evil, celebration of a homecoming of a Prince in his kingdom. His homecoming was lit completely with earthen lamps and lanterns, which is why we now have the festival of light.
For me, the festival is about love, gratitude and laughter. Homes are cleaned and decorated with lanterns casting a warm glow, garlands of bright marigolds and vibrant mango leaves and pretty designs of rangoli (a colourful art form where designs are created on the floor with coloured rice, dry flour, coloured sand or flower petals) adorn the porches. From fragrant oil baths before the crack of dawn to wearing new clothes, from lighting firecrackers with friends to exchanging gifts and sweets, Diwali is a time we find so many ways to honour and celebrate our relationships, families and friends. We gather together to exchange sweets and the wishing and of showing gratitude to goddess Lakshmi and our hope for a prosperous year ahead.
Just like any celebration, food is an integral part of the festival. Age old recipes are passed through generations and are used to create traditional sweets and snacks. Dried fruits and nuts are offered to the gods and exchanged as gifts alongside homemade sweets and snacks
I’m so excited this Diwali to be sharing a few of my favourite recipes which are perfect for the Australian spring/summer Diwali festivities. Please enjoy these recipes and show the gratitude you have for the people in your life by sharing these dishes with them.
Fragrant Spicy Rice
1.5 cups basmati rice (washed and soaked for at least 3 hours)
1/4 cup greek or coconut yoghurt
1/2 cup of vegetables (carrots, peas, cauliflower florets)
1 tbsp ghee or coconut oil
2 bay leaves
4 green cardamom (or 1 tsp cardamom powder)
1/2 inch cinnamon bark (or use 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder)
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/4 cup nuts (cashews and almonds) – optional
2 tbsp raisins
Pink Himalayan salt to taste
Pinch of coconut sugar or rapadura sugar
For the green paste
1 cup coriander leaves
1 cup spinach leaves
1/2 inch fresh ginger
1 small to medium chilli (depending on heat)
1. Blend the green paste ingredients with minimal water into a paste in a blender, nutribullet or food processor.
2. Add ghee or coconut oil to a heavy-based large saucepan, bring to low-medium heat and add all the whole spices.
3. Once the spices are fragrant add the green paste and sauté for a couple of minutes.
4. Next, add the vegetables and rice and sauté for a couple minutes to make sure the green paste coats everything evenly.
5. Add 3 cups of water (1:2 basmati rice to water mixture will give you the perfect rice every time) and yoghurt to the mixture.
6. Add the nuts and raisins, sugar and a good pinch of pink Himalayan salt then check the seasoning. You can adjust the spice or salt at this point to your liking.
7. Cover pan and bring to a boil, then reduce to low and cook for about 10 minutes, check that most of the liquid has been absorbed, if not leave on for a further 2 minutes, then set aside for 5 minutes to allow rice to absorb all of the steam. Use a fork to fluff up rice.
8. Serve with a garnish of fresh coriander and nuts with spicy tomato sauce and raita
1. Grate a cucumber and squeeze out all the water.
2. In a bowl whisk the yoghurt to remove any lumps
3. Add the cucumber, salt, cumin powder and sugar.
4. Cucumber continues to leave water so only add water if necessary before serving.
Spicy Tomato Soup/Sauce
Enjoy this dish as a soup, or serve with spiced rice and raita.
3 medium-sized firm tomatoes / 1 passata bottle/1 tin of diced tomatoes
1 tbsp ghee or coconut oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp peppercorns
3-4 curry leaves
1 bay leaf
1 small to medium green chilli (finely chopped)
1/2 inch ginger (grated)
1/2 tsp asafoetida
1 tsp turmeric
1 can of coconut cream
1/2 tsp Pink Himalayan salt (adjust to taste)
1/4 cup fresh coriander (chopped for garnishing)
1. If using fresh or tinned tomatoes, blend the tomatoes. (Skip this step if using passata)
2. In a heavy bottom pot, add ghee or coconut oil and add cumin seeds, peppercorns, curry leaves and bay leaf
3. Once the cumin seeds have cracked, add the chilli, ginger, asafoetida and turmeric.
4. Add the blended tomatoes/passata to the pot and 1/3 cup water and cover and cook for 3-4 minutes.
5. Now add coconut cream. Fill the empty can with water and add it to the pot.
6. Season with salt and bring it to the boil before checking the seasoning.
7. Once cooked, add chopped coriander and serve warm.
This article was written with thanks to our wonderful community member and The Wholefood Collective 21 Day Challenge mentor, Manasee Arpan Roy. Manasee is a mama and food lover from Melbourne who often shares her beautiful home cooking creations and wholefood journey with us in our Facebook community group, The Wholefood Collective Community, become a member now!