It is that time of year again.Curtains are being washed, cupboards organised, long forgotten corners swept clean and ceilings brushed. New clothes are bought and stocks of diyas inspected while paper thin layers of cotton are rolled to make wicks. Pungent bottles of mustard oil are stocked up, ready to fill the diyas for the the first day of Diwali.
Besides the traditional meaning of the festival, the victory of good over evil and light over darkness, the beginning of a New Year, a prayer for the forces of light, prosperity and wisdom to enter our lives, it is , for me, a remembrance of time past, of family and ancestors with whom we each have celebrated this glorious season.
One way to do that is through food ofcourse.
For us Diwali sweets mean just three of the best, all made in the old way like my mother made them. Her recipe and old notebook are pictured above. The Old Way is labour intensive and there's the joy, as it's a labour of love.
The kitchen staff ( me) goes into high gear. First a mixture of coriander seeds and jaggery makes the Naivedya , an offering to the Gods.Then out comes all the paraphernalia for "The Making of the Sweets".
The ghee, the gehu, the copra, the coconut, dried fruits, spices and sugar, sugar, sugar. There is nothing like cooking in quantity that brings about a complete sense of abundance and satisfaction.
The cornucopia of ingredients are ground,roasted, fried, stirred and fashioned into delicately garnished sweets. These are packed away in large boxes for the five wonderful days to come, when family arrive and lamps are lit and we worship together for new beginnings with a glance over our shoulders to those who taught us all these things.
My Mothers recipe for Karanji-
1/2 fresh coconut ,grated
1/4 cup sugar, powdered
1/4 cup almonds, powdered
8 elaichi / cardomom, powdered.
Mix all these ingredients and saute in a heavy bottomed pan or kadhai till all the moisture from the fresh coconut has dried up.
1 cup flour
1/4 cup suji / semolina
1 tbs ghee
Salt to taste
Mix these ingredients and add water to make a dough.Knead the dough. Divide into 14 pieces. Roll out to make 3 " circles. Hold the circle in one hand and fill with a tablespoon of the filling.Fold over and seal the edges with a bit of water.
Deep fry in hot ghee.
Double , triple or quadruple the quantity depending on the number you want.