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Posts Tagged ‘Diwali’

Diwali greetings!

Diwali is celebrated with tiny lamps called diyas, lit and placed in people’s homes signifying light overcoming darkness. Diwali is the brightest and most joyous of celebrations in India and it is a time when new beginnings are embraced, people let go of the past and ask for blessings of prosperity and spiritual wealth for the coming year.

Diwali translates to

Diwali translates to “a row of lights” and signifies light over darkness.

Arvinda’s celebrated Diwali with the Canada AM crew this week. Watch the segment here and see how we celebrate with a cup of spicy Masala Chai (3 ways, might we add!).

Arvinda’s masalas are on sale until 11/12! Diwali greetings to all.

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Chai Spice Medjool Date mitai using Arvinda's Chai Masala

Chai Spice Medjool Date mitai using Arvinda’s Chai Masala

Over the weekend we celebrated Diwali, India’s festival of lights. The celebrations are vibrant, joyous and lit with illuminated tiny lamps called diyas. It is a custom to cook many varieties of snacks and sweets and share them with loved ones.

Although this is the only time of year we eat specific Indian sweets (this is definitely a time of year for treats!) I wanted to make something different as well as “healthy”, if you can call a sweet treat that! Maybe the word I’m looking for is healthier than the typical syrupy and overly sugary Indian mithai (sweets) we often indulge in.

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Reflecting on the month of October, I’m remembering the events we did and all the indulgent (and yummy) food I ate. With Thanksgiving, Diwali~India’s festival of lights and Hallowe’en all behind us now, I’ve come to the conclusion that October is the most delicious month of the year!

It all started off at Soupalicious on October 1st…with our South Indian Coconut Vegetable Curried Soup with Coconut Oil Infused Curry Leaves. This was a spin on a traditional South Indian vegetable coconut dish that we turned into a soup. Although I was serving a wide audience with 20 litres of our soup, I didn’t want to tame the Indian flavours down by making the dish mild. South Indian cooking is the hottest of the Indian subcontinent, so I kept it authentic using Arvinda’s Madras Masala. Those who sipped our soup were indeed the curry lovers looking for authentic and bold flavours!

Here's our South Indian Coconut Vegetable Curried Soup with Coconut Oil Infused Curry Leaves I served at Soupalicious 2011.

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Hello on this very auspicious Diwali weekend! Many people celebrated Diwali on Friday and celebrations continue today as well.

Pumpkin Ka Halwa for Diwali

This weekend is one of India’s most vibrant and biggest festivals, Diwali (or Deepavali), the festival of lights.

“Deep” means light and “availi” means row, so as the translation suggests, streets, houses and pathways are lit up with endless rows of lights, with everything in full illumination, and the skies are dotted with lights and crackles of firecrackers.

Happy Diwali!

What I would pay to be in India right now! Check out this clip of Diwali celebrations in India. Being in India during Diwali festivities is definitely on my bucket list…but for now I’ll keep that thought for the future!

Diwali’s significance and history is many but in short, it signifies the triumph of good over evil. The lit lamps symbolize going from darkness into light which is to bring about happiness, prosperity and goodwill to ourselves and to others, moving us one step closer to divinity.

President Obama does a nice job of summarizing this in his Diwali greetings. He seems to be a fan of “mithai” (Indian sweets)!

For Diwali we celebrate with lights, decorations and of course, sweets!
During Diwali we light “diyas” small decorated lamps with a cotton wick immersed in ghee (clarified butter).

A diya is a lamp. We use a cotton wick immersed in ghee.

You may have heard the word “rangoli” from famed chef, Vikram Vij’s take-out restaurant in Vancouver. Rangoli (“rang” meaning colour) is a beautiful floor decoration of intricate designs made from coloured chalk, flour or spices like turmeric. A rangoli is often found at the entrance of a home or temple as a welcoming.

A rangoli is an intricate design using coloured chalk, flours and powdered spices.

And of course we celebrate with spreads of Indian sweets known as mithai. We make an immense variety of mithai and offer them to guests in colourful or decorated boxes.

A favourite Indian sweet is Gulab Jamun – milk based balls, deep-fried and immersed in a saffron and rosewater syrup. Many other cultures seem to also have deep-fried desserts, and in Indian cuisine, this sweet is by far the most popular and traditional. For that reason, no Diwali table is complete without Gulab Jamun!

Gulab Jamuns - one of the most popular Indian mithai.

Gulab Jamun is made with khoya (reduced, thickened milk), suji (semolina), baking soda, crushed cardamom seeds and saffron. We also added Arvinda's Chai Masala for extra flavour.

Deep fry...

...until they are golden brown.

Make a rose water syrup with saffron...

...and immerse into the syrup until they are completely absorbed.

A new recipe I made this year, was Pumpkin Ka Halwa (Pumpkin Halwa). Since I had all of that Hallowe’en pumpkin leftovers, I didn’t want it to go to waste!

Start with ghee, clarified butter...

...and combine with jaggery, an unprocessed cane sugar.

Combine together on low heat. Be sure not to burn the sugar.

Reduce on low heat for 45 minutes.

Pumpkin Ka Halwa
Ingredients:
4 cups pumpkin, shredded
2 tbsp. ghee or butter
¼ cup jaggery or raw cane sugar
½ cup cashew halves
1 tsp. Arvinda’s Chai Masala
¼ tsp. nutmeg, to garnish

Method: In a large skillet, melt ghee on medium-low heat. Add jaggery and dissolve into ghee.

Add shredded pumpkin. Place the lid on the skillet and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes, until pumpkin is cooked.

Remove lid and further reduce until all liquid is absorbed. Fold in cashews and Arvinda’s Chai Masala. Serve warm in a decorative glass with a freshly grated nutmeg.

Serve your Pumpkin Ka Halwa in a glass for a nice presentation.

Or press into a mould for a classic presentation.

A couple of questions for the day:
1) Have you ever celebrated Diwali in India? If so, what was it like?
2) What is your favourite mithai or Indian sweet?

Based on your feedback I’ll add those recipes to the site. Thanks and looking forward to hearing about it!

If you’re looking to purchase sweets for Diwali, try Sweet India. Their selection is amazing and they carry Arvinda’s masalas too! Wishing you a very happy Diwali!


A teaspoon of: Delerium featuring Kiran Ahluwalia. Listening to: Indoctrination.

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My perfect little pumpkin, ready to be carved.

Last night I carved my Hallowe’en pumpkin. After watching the episode of Food Network Challenge: Outrageous Pumpkins on Sunday night, I was inspired to try something outside the box of the typical Jack-o’-lantern carving.

October is pumpkin mania month!

Wow, those competitors made it look so easy! What started out as a mango design ended up being a paisley…

Paisley or mango?

…or was it the other way around?

It's not as easy as it looks!

With India’s Diwalifestival of lights celebrations just around the corner, my Indian paisley pumpkin is a perfect way to welcome in the holiday.

Okay, we're done. Now it's time for a party!

What’s not to love about pumpkins? Suitable for both sweet and savoury dishes, it’s a great source of beta-carotene, antioxidant-rich and packed with potassium. Muscle soreness or cramping during exercise is sometimes a result of potassium deficiency, so adding pumpkin to your diet during the autumn season is a sure way of boosting your potassium levels.

Hmmm…I’m thinking about a pumpkin curry or curried pumpkin soup with all this pumpkin talk. Recipes coming soon.

Edward Street's festive pumpkin display.

October is pumpkin mania pretty much everywhere you go! I love all the fall displays of pumpkins and gourds. This month we visited newly opened and highly anticipated Edward Street Market and Bistro in Aurora, Ontario.

Foodies need not look any further. As their slogan suggests, “One Stop Shop for Food Lovers”, this is the destination for foodie delights, ingredients and pantry staples.

Our first trip to Edward Street!

The intimate, warm and inviting space does indeed have a market feel and the tight yet concise product offerings, lends itself strongly to the notion of cooking.

Our guide, Chef Chris Klugman, Edward Street manager, gave us a tour of this foodie heaven - thanks Chris for making us feel welcomed!

The store is peppered with recipes and menu suggestions and with a friendly staff with the added scents of delicious aromas from the bistro next door, make Edward Street a place you can linger, sample and get inspired.

Destination for food lovers - the shelves are packed with all sorts of cooking ingredients and pantry staples. Look for lots of great recipes for cooking inspiration.

And of course, we love the spice section!

Although not perfect, my pumpkin is carved so there is more time left for Hallowe’en festivities. Still need a costume, ideas anyone?

A teaspoon of: The Smashing Pumpkins. Listening to: Perfect.

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