The festival of lights is one of the highlights of the Indian calendar. But also of all communities of the island! This Hindu festival commemorates the return of Lord Rama and his wife Sita, in their capital, Ayodhya that has win the fight against the demon Ravana. Diwali (or Divali or Deepavali), which means “row of lights”, said the lights path made by the inhabitants of Ayodhya to illuminate the return of Rama.
On this occasion, houses are decorated a bit like for Christmas. The low voltage electric garlands have replaced many traditional terracotta lamps but it the illuminated houses remains very beautiful and are a pure bliss to the eyes.
A multicultural festival
Whether one is Indian or not, Divali enchants everyone, who isn’t ecstatic at the sight of beautiful light decorations adorning the homes and gardens? Each year, many people enjoy walking, during the evening in the bright streets illuminated by thousand lights. Along the way, you will have the chance to admire the sublime Rangoli kolam or these traditional Indian designs made with ground rice, and are a sign of welcome to the guests.
You will rarely leave a hourse of the island without taking back the famous Divali cakes, which are the other stars (after the lights!) of this highly coloured celebration. The Gulab Jamoon, coconut or pistachio Barfi, Ladoo, Nankatai and Sweet potato cakes among others are the essentials of Divali which is not only based on light but also on sharing.
Those who have the time, prepares the Divali cakes themselves since the recipes were transmitted from generation to generation. And if you want to celebrate Divali anywhere in the world along with the cakes, we got some recipes that might taunt you.
Ingredients (for four people)
-1 cup + 2 tablespoons powdered milk
-1 tablespoon flour
-¼ teaspoon of baking powder
-½ teaspoon of powdered cardamom
-4 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon of Ghee
-1 cup of sugar
-1 teaspoon lemon juice
Mix milk, flour, baking powder, cardamom and four teaspoons of Ghee in a bowl.
Heat the sugar and one cup of water in a pot to prepare the syrup. Add some lemon juice and transfer to a serving dish.
Heat the remaining Ghee in a saucepan. Add water to milk powder mixture to form a paste. Shape into small balls and put them to fry over low heat.
Once they are browned, remove from heat and place them in hot syrup. Allow Rasgullas to soak in the syrup before serving.
Coconut Barfi Recipe
Ingredients (for four people)
-2 cups grated coconut
-1 tablespoon Ghee
-1 cup of Castor Sugar
-1 cup of milk
-1 pinch of saffron threads
-1 pinch of ground cardamom
– Crushed Pistachios or peanuts
Grease a rectangular mold with Ghee.
In a non-stick pan, melt the sugar. Add milk, stir, and cook until the sugar dissolves. Add the saffron and stir again.
In a mortar, crush the cardamom and add them to the mix.
Add the grated coconut, stir constantly and cook until the preparation thickens. Move off from the heat, add the Ghee then mix again.
Pour the mixture into the greased pan. Level out, sprinkle with pistachios or crushed peanuts and cardamom powder.
Once the preparation has cooled, cut and serve.
The Must-do Divali Cake – Gato Patate
The cakes made by women in the morning are deposited when cooked as an offering on an altar installed in a room of the house, and at night you eat them with family and friends who go from house to house to share them. Yet, Divali remains incomplete without the famous “Gato Patate” – sweet potato cake. And here is the Recipe for you!
For a dozen potato cakes
For the dough
-3 sweet potatoes medium size
-1 cup of flour (1 cup = 250 ml)
For the filling
-1 fresh coconut (or powder if you do not feel you grate the coconut)
-1/2 cup of sugar
-2 cloves of green cardamom (dry roast a few minutes in the pan and then mix them to the mill) or 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
Open coconut. Take-out the flesh and grate it using the fine grid. Mix the grated coconut with sugar and cardamom. The mixture should be dry (moisture-free). Reserve aside.
Wash the sweet potatoes, chop roughly and immerse them in boiling water. Allow to cook for about 1 hour / 1:30 on low heat. Prick with a knife to check for proper cooking. They should be tender.
Once cooked, remove their skin and mash them with a fork, while they are still hot. Spread the puree in a large flat dish or on a baking sheet. Sprinkle 3 to 4 tablespoons of flour over the mashed sweet potatoes. Mix. Once it is fully amalgamated, repeat until you have used up all the flour.
The amount of flour will vary slightly depending on the size of sweet potatoes and cooking. To get the right consistency, we need to form a ball of dough that is not too dry. It must agglomerate.
When you feel like you have obtained the perfect dough consistency, form small balls the size of a tennis ball. Roll out each ball using a roller (thickness of a pastry). Using a pastry cutter (7-8 cm in diameter, a small inverted bowl can do the trick), draw circles of dough.
Put about 1 tablespoon of coconut filling in the pancake and fold it in half. Place it on the worktop and seal the borders with a fork. It must be very tight.
Heat the sunflower oil in a wok ( a spoon of ghee oil can be added to the oil for more authenticity).
Once the oil is hot, dip the potato cakes. Cook for 1 minute on one side and then turn them over and cook for 1-3 minutes. It’s a bit like a donut. In the end, the potato cake should just be golden.
Enjoy your sweet delicacies and Happy Divali!