By Jena Branco, Marketing Coordinator, Brand & Marketing Communications, SECL
Diwali is India’s biggest, most important, and well loved holiday of the year. It is known as the Festival of Lights and symbolizes the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance”, which is particularly significant this year. It is generally a time for visiting friends & families, exchanging gifts, wearing new clothes, and feasting to your heart’s content. It is a five-day celebration, however on the third day (considered the main day of the Diwali festival), families will light candles and fireworks. Tomorrow, Saturday, November 14th, is the third day of Diwali, and the true celebration of sweets.
Although this year’s celebrations will be much quieter than it has been in the past, the tradition of celebrating with sweets will remain the same. It is customary to show up with a tray of mithai during Diwali, and one must accept (it’s consider rude not to) when being offered one of these delightful treats.
I’ve noticed that many of my Indian neighbours have strung ribbons of lights outside of their homes and the local Indian bakeries have set up make-shift tents outside their stores to accommodate beautifully adorned red and gold boxes containing baked goods and sweets for purchase. I tried going into the bakery earlier today to buy a couple boxes of mithai (wide variety of sweets), but unfortunately I wasn’t dressed warm enough to withstand the 25 minute line-up outside.
Since I did not have luck in bringing home a box of mithai, I wondered how easy (or difficult) it would be to make some of these Indian sweets that are synonymous with this festival of hope and prosperity. I knew a handful of Indian desserts only because I was introduced to them while dining at a nearby restaurant, but never attempted making them myself. But after watching through the tutorial (videos) from Tastemade, My Ginger Garlic Kitchen, and Banglar Rannaghor , I believe I can easily recreate them … which is sweet in my books (and glycemic index).
Wishing you a Happy Diwali. I hope this Diwali be an awesome celebration for you and your family and give you blessings of wealth and success always. Let’s celebrate the festival in the true sense by spreading joy, kindness and light to the world. Have a happy, safe, and blessed Diwali!
Gulab Jamun (Indian Doughnuts) from Tastemade
These Indian-style doughnuts (soaked in sweet syrup) can be enjoyed warm, hot or cold!
- 1 cup powdered milk
- 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 3 tablespoons milk
- Ghee, to grease your hands
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon rose essence (or 1 teaspoon rose water)
- A pinch of saffron
- Oil for frying (canola/vegetable)
- Combine powdered milk, flour, baking powder and salt.
- Stir to combine.
- Add melted butter and add milk, and gently stir until all ingredients are incorporated and form a thick dough.
- Allow formed dough to sit at room temperature for 5 minutes to slightly firm up.
- Prepare syrup by heating water and sugar, and simmer for 5 minutes until sugar has dissolved and slightly thickened.
- Add rose essence and saffron.
- Grease hands with ghee.
- Gently form small balls with dough (approximately 1-1 1/2 inches in diameter), making sure not to overwork the dough. (This can lead to a tough Gulab Jamun, so be careful.)
- Heat 2-3 inches of oil in a deep pan on medium heat.
- Add balls, and cook for 5-7 minutes until dark brown in color.
- Immerse the hot Gulab Jamun balls immediately into the syrup, and allow to soak for a minimum of 10 minutes. The Gulab Jamun will puff up as they soak.
- Serve warm, hot, cold – whichever way you like!
Jalebi (Indian style Funnel Cake) from My Ginger Garlic Kitchen
Jalebi is a quick and easy Indian style funnel cake recipe which is popular throughout India. This recipe can be prepared under 30 minutes, and is enjoyed by grown-ups and kids alike.
• 1 cup all purpose flour/plain flour (maida)
• 3/4 cup yogurt/curd
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• Water 2 tablespoons or more, if required
• A pinch of orange food color (optional)
- In a large bowl mix together flour (maida), and yogurt.
- Start whisking in one direction. You can use a wire whisk or you can use your hands.
- After 5 minutes of whisking, the mixture would start turning into a smooth and lump-free batter.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of water to the batter if the batter seems a little thick. ( It has to be thick, but of flowing consistency)
- Once the batter is smooth, add food color (if you are opting to use)
- Add baking powder and mix well.
- The batter is now ready.
• 2 cups sugar
• 1 1/4 cups water
• A slice of lemon
• 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
• 12-15 saffron strands
- Add sugar and water to a pan.
- Stir well and let it boil over medium heat until sugar is fully dissolved.
- Once it comes to boil, add a slice of lemon and boil for a few minutes.
- Now add saffron strands and boil until you get the sticky syrup.
- The syrup we need here has almost 1-string consistency. To check sugar syrup consistency, pour a drop of syrup in a plate or bowl. Allow it to cool for a few seconds. Touch the syrup with the index finger and then touch your thumb and index finger together and gently pull apart. If the syrup is sticky then your syrup is ready.
- Add cardamom powder and stir well. Turn off the heat and keep aside. We need warm syrup for jalebis, so keep it on very low heat while you fry the jalebis. (You can add 1-2 tablespoons of water if it starts to thicken.)
• Oil or clarified butter (ghee)
- Heat ghee or oil in a broad pan over high heat. Once hot, turn the heat to medium. You can check if the oil is hot enough by dropping a small portion of the batter if it sizzles and comes up within seconds than the oil is ready.
- Now fill the squeeze bottle with the batter and pour spiral shapes or concentric circles in the hot oil.
- Fry Jalebis over medium heat until they are crisp and golden from both the sides.
- Once fried, drain jalebis on a cooling rack and let them cool for a couple of minutes.
- Now add fried jalebis to warm sugar syrup and soak them for 1-2 minutes.
- Next, remove jalebis from the syrup and place on a cooling rack or a tray lined with paper.
- Garnish with chopped pistachios and serve warm with some rabri or warm milk.
1. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water to sugar syrup every time you are heating it up. This way, the syrup will maintain it’s sticky uniformity and won’t get thicker.
2. Make sure the oil is hot enough before you drop the batter. To gauge the temperature for frying, simply drop a tiny piece of batter. If it sizzles and comes up without browning then the oil is perfect temperature. You can also use a wooden spoon, if you see bubbles around the wood then the oil is ready. If your test batter sinks to the bottom, then the oil is too cold, therefore your jalebi won’t be crispy, but soft and oily. If the batter turns brown and rises right away to the top, then the oil is too hot, your jalebi will brown on the outside too fast and inside uncooked.
3. Always fry jalebi on medium heat. If your jalebi has shrunk, then that means you over-fried your jalebi. If your jalebi turns flat, then it means that jalebis were fried on low heat or the batter was too thin. If your jalebi comes out thick & soft, the batter is too thick.
Boondi Ladoo from Banglar Rannaghor
Boondi ladoo is a delicious and popular Indian sweet made from gram (ground chickpea) flour. These ladoos are called boondi ladoos, since the batter is poured through a ladle or sieve with perforations while frying. These give rise to round shaped droplets, called boondi (derived from the word ‘boond’ in hindi which means water droplets). This soft textured boondi ladoo is a crowd pleaser.
- 1/2 cup gram (ground chickpea) flour
- ¾ cup water + 2 tbsp
- ¼ tsp orange food color
- 1/8 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp ghee
- ½ tsp rose water
- 2 tbsp cashews
- 2 tbsp pistachios
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup water
- ½ tsp lime juice
- Gradually mix water to gram/chickpea flour in a bowl until smooth consistency
- Add baking soda and orange food coloring
- To create boondi, pour batter over a skimmer spoon with round shape openings onto hot oil. After each batch, wipe the perforated ladle with a clean piece of thin cotton kitchen towel from both sides.
- Fry until golden brown and set aside. NOTE: Fry the boondis till they are cooked. Don’t make them too crispy. When the oil stops sizzling, remove the boondis. This step is also important because if boondis becomes crispy, then the ladoos won’t be soft and they won’t be able to absorb the sugar syrup.
- Prepare syrup by mixing water and sugar in a pot until sugar is completely dissolved then boil for 3 minutes and squeeze lime juice
- Transfer the fried boondi to the syrup pot
- Allow the boodi to absorb the syrup
- Add ghee, rose water, cashews and pistachios
- Mix and form into small ladoo shapes
- Garnish with crushed nuts before serving 11.
- Now you are ready to enjoy!