Sweet treats to celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights

Diwali is one of the most important Indian festivals, a five day celebration, full of lights and sweets, crackers and new clothes. Here are some of my favourite sweet recipes by my favourite South Asian food writers and chefs to give you a taste of what the festival is all about!

Diwali is one of the most important Indian festivals, a five day celebration, full of lights and sweets, crackers and new clothes. Celebrated primarily by Hindus, it still sweeps everyone up in the festivities: As a child I remember waking early and waiting impatiently to start lighting some of the crackers we’d been bought. Later in the evening we’d get all dressed up, lamps would be lit all over the house and plates of sweets made over the last few days carried out.  

Sweets are one of the most important aspects of Diwali: making them, gifting them, sampling them. My mother always made a whole variety of them, carefully storing them away in large containers, to be brought out once the festivities started. There was always so much to choose from, and each was different from the other in colour and texture. From deep mustard to brown, creamy white to bright orange; some were pleasantly chewy, others crunchy from being deep-fried, and yet others meltingly soft, dissolving on the tongue.

To commemorate this beautiful, joyful festival here are a list of some of my favourite sweets with recipes from my favourite South Indian food writers and chefs. They’re a great introduction to the subtlety and vast universe of Indian sweets and can be made at Diwali and beyond. 

Madhur Jaffrey’s rice kheer, an aromatic, creamy rice pudding

Tejal Rao’s shrikhand; a creamy yoghurt-based dessert scented with ground cardamom

Junoon’s shahi tukda, one of my absolute favourite desserts growing up: Toasted bread soaked in a syrup, covered with a slow-cooked cardamon-flavoured condensed milk blanket.

Cheeti Kumar's chikki (Peanut-sesame brittle) made with smoky jaggery

Meera Sodha’s gulab jamuns, fried milky little dough balls soaked in a cardamom-rose water syrup

I hope you enjoy making these sweets and sharing them. Have a bright and joyful Diwali! 

 

Image above by Ty Mecham from Food52

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