Yesterday marked the beginning of Diwali, the celebration commonly known as the “Festival of Lights”. It involves lighting small oil lamps (called diyas) and placing them around the home, in courtyards, gardens and on the walls built around the home.
The word Diwali is derived from Deepavali meaning “a row of lights”. Diwali is celebrated for five days. The uniqueness of this festival is it’s harmony of five varied philosophies, with each day dedicated to a special thought.
Many reasons can be attributed for the use of Diyas in Diwali. Lamp or “Deep” is the symbol of knowledge. Lighting the lamp of knowledge means to understand and reflect upon the significant purpose of each of the five days of festivities and to bring those thoughts into day to day lives. The lighting of lamps is a form of obeisance to God for the attainment of Health, Wealth, Knowledge, Peace and Fame.
Another legend says lighting of lamps symbolizes the spiritual light pervading the earth and the destruction of darkness and ignorance.
It was only when I moved to London that I learned about Diwali as I had a few friends that were celebrating the festival. This year I wanted to make something to pay tribute to my dear friends who are celebrating this week. When I asked a good friend what she likes to eat during Diwali, she replied either very sweet treats or savoury snacks that more often than not, tend to be deep fried. Ah! Oh Dear! I’m not really a fan of very sweet delicacies and there is a reason I don’t own a deep fat fryer (cue image of ballooning waistline!).
After doing a bit of digging I came up with two ideas: Spicy Masala Cashew Nuts and Carrot and Cabbage Bhujia. We always have a reserve of unseasoned nuts at home, whether it be pine nuts, cashew or walnuts and I love using spicy condiments to enhance the flavour. I am always on the lookout for eating alternative vegetarian side orders and the Carrot and Cabbage Bhujia fit the bill nicely. I know it’s not traditionally Diwali fare but I do like to experiment with different flavours and ingredients.
Firstly for the Spicy Cashew Nuts:
Ingredients: 150g whole unseasoned cashew nuts, 2 tsbp of butter, 1/2 tsp of red chilli powder, 3-4 pinches of garam masala, squeeze of lemon juice and salt to season.
Next for the Vegetarian Side Order of Carrot and Cabbage Bhujia.
I thought this was also a good way to incorporate my 5 a day.
I wanted to extend all my warm wishes to my friends celebrating Diwali around the globe. Happy Diwali!
For those of you participating and observing the festival, images of Diwali celebrations are being captured by CNN here
If you are looking for further Diwali inspiration, head on over to Monica’s delicious blog : A Life of Spice
Like How to be a Gourmand on Facebook
What dishes would you make for Diwali? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below.