Alternative Bites for Diwali

by Jacqueline on November 12, 2012

Alternative treats for Diwali

Carrot and Cabbage Bhujia

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.

The biggest Indian Festival

Diwali – The Festival of Lights

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.

Method: Heat butter in a frying pan, add cashews, fry till light brown on a low flame. Drain on kitchen paper. In a separate bowl mix together the red chilli powder, garam masala and salt. Toss the warm cashew nuts well in the spice mix and finish by squeezing a touch of lemon juice on the mix. For best results, consume immediately but will keep for 24 hours if stored in airtight container.
You can of course, use ghee instead of butter for this recipe.
Masala Cashew Nuts

Spicy Diwali Snack

Next for the Vegetarian Side Order of Carrot and Cabbage Bhujia.

Carrot and Cabbage Bhujia

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Serving Size: Serves 2 for Side Order

A tasty side order which leaves a mild long lasting peppery heat. A good way of getting children to eat vegetables.


  • 2 tbsp of cooking oil
  • 1 tsp of whole black mustard seeds
  • 1 dried red chili
  • 200g of cabbage, finely sliced, I used Savoy Cabbage but any Cabbage will do.
  • 300g of carrots, coarsely grated
  • 1 green chili, cut into thin strips (remove seeds, if required)
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp chopped, fresh coriander
  • 1tbsp of fresh lemon juice


  1. Heats the oil in a frying pan
  2. Sauté the mustard seeds and dried red chili for about 1 minute
  3. Add the cabbage, carrots and green chili.
  4. Reduce the heat to low and stir-fry the vegetables for about 30 seconds.
  5. Add the sugar and coriander, stir-fry for another 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
  6. Add the lemon juice.
  7. Remove the red chili before serving.


Who would have thought eating cabbage could be so tasty?

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!

Happy Diwali

Happy Diwali to all those celebrating
Photo credit:

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.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Camilla @Fabfood4all November 12, 2012 at 10:06 am

What a healthy and tasty side dish Jacqueline, it sounds & looks yummy and the cashew nuts are gorgeous too (might have to knock these up for New Years Eve). My daughter did a poster project on China last year so I feel I know quite a bit about lanterns, dragons etc now!


2 Jacqueline November 12, 2012 at 10:44 am

Thanks Camilla – isn’t good when you get healthy and tasty on the same plate?
Yay! You’ll be able to join in with the Chinese New Year festivities then :-)


3 Mich Piece of Cake November 12, 2012 at 10:26 am

I love all Indian food and your cabbage and carrot bhujia just looks like the type of dish I would pick at an Indian restaurant.


4 Jacqueline November 12, 2012 at 10:45 am

Ah, you are very kind, thanks Michelle :-)


5 Karen November 12, 2012 at 9:18 pm

When my daughter was at university in Manchester, I would often visit her during Diwali as there used to be a huge festival in one of the parks near her halls of residence, and the trees were strewn with fairy lights and the air was heavy with the smell of sugar and spices, it was magical! I think your two recipes are wonderful and I am always a sucker for spiced roasted nuts! Karen


6 Jacqueline November 13, 2012 at 3:11 am

That sounds beautifully atmospheric Karen. The nuts are very addictive :-)


7 Katharine@leeksandlimoni November 13, 2012 at 11:03 am

A lot of my students celebrate Diwali but as you say, when I ask them about the culinary traditions, they mostly describe fried foods. I love your recipes, light but fragrant with spice – delicious!


8 Jacqueline November 13, 2012 at 11:31 am

Thanks Katharine – it was quite hard to find a healthy recipe which still honoured the tradition. Makes a really good side dish!


9 petra08 November 13, 2012 at 7:20 pm

I love the cashew nuts and the carrot and cabbage Bhujia sounds very tasty and healthy. Happy Diwali!


10 Jacqueline November 14, 2012 at 3:43 am

Thanks Petra :-)


11 rita cooks italian November 14, 2012 at 3:22 am

I am lucky to live in London and have the opportunity to celebrate many different Festivities. Diwali is one of my favourites. The music, the food, the colours, the people. I am glad that my children learn about other cultures and celebrations, not only C. Last night I cooked chicken Korma and chick peas/lentils Madras curry to celebrate the day. I added to my korma cavolo nero and spinach, next time I should try to stir fry my vegetables as you suggested…


12 Jacqueline November 14, 2012 at 3:47 am

I wish when I had been at school I was taught more about different religions. I recall an R.E.(Religious Education) lesson where we celebrated the Jewish Passover – this was a very informative,interactive and memorable lesson. I’m glad now children are being taught more about different religions in school. It all contributes to a well informed and respectful society. Your own interpretation of Diwali sounds delicious. Thanks for your comment Rita.


13 Heather @girlichef November 14, 2012 at 12:48 pm

I’ve heard of Diwali, but only through food blogging. I’d love to be able to experience it first-hand. These all sound like great bites…but those cashews are calling my name!


14 Jacqueline November 14, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Thanks Heather. The cashew nuts are very easy to make and very,very addictive :-)


15 Nancy/SpicieFoodie November 14, 2012 at 7:22 pm

I’ve been learning about Diwali today and it seems like a beautiful festival. Your bites sound delicious and perfect for any celebration.


16 Jacqueline November 15, 2012 at 1:23 am

Thanks Nancy and welcome to my blog :-) I see from your blog, you also love spicy food. Nice touch :-)


17 Laura@howtocookgoodfood November 15, 2012 at 11:25 pm

This is such a delicious sounding dish and carrots cabbage I haven’t tried together before but would love to. My children have been celebrating Diwali this week at school and have brought home some Indian sweets they made. Lovely that schools are discussing all the religions now, I never had that opportunity. I am trying to get them to love spices as much as I do too!


18 Jacqueline November 16, 2012 at 2:44 am

Thanks Laura. I think this would be a good dish to give them as the heat is released slowly with the mustard seeds. It’s so great that your children are embracing different festivals at school. It’s so important.


19 Nic November 30, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Must try the cashews, I usually just fry them with salt and pepper, those look fab!


20 Jacqueline November 30, 2012 at 4:47 pm

Salt and pepper fried cashews sound good too Nic :-)


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