Diwali deepon ka thyohar hai (Diwali is the festival of lights). My class 2 essay on diwali hardly prepared me for the dhamaaka that the festival actually is.
I had my first taste of Diwali five years back, in Hyderabad. I had gone to Dadoos, my favourite sweet shop, to get a couple of jalebis. The shop was crowded to the limit, and as I waited in the long queue, I wondered about how much money people readily parted with, for all kinds of sweets, nuts and other savories during the festive season. The sales went on at a feverish pitch, with orders being shouted over the counter, sales men helping shoppers carry their purchase to awaiting vehicles, and new merchandise being brought in. I realised I had chosen a poor time to buy two tiny jalebis, but before I could move out, I had reached the head of the queue. "Two jalebis", I stammered to the shop keeper. He shot me an incredulous look, but wasted no time in yelling out the order. I was just glad I was not shouted at.
As evening approached, the sound of crackers could be heard everywhere and houses were decorated with lighted diyas. There were people of all ages lighting up fireworks everywhere - from the streets to the relative safety of their courtyards. What with the kids holding sparklers, the defeaning bombs going off every now and then, the sparkling flower pots that reminded me of christmas trees and the wide variety of beautiful and noisy firework display everywhere, it was impossible not to get sucked into the festive spirit. I watched with growing awe as the evening unfolded into a visually stunning display of lights that brightened up the entire night sky and went on till the wee hours of the morning. If the celebrations on the return of Lord Rama from his 14 year exile in the forest, after the defeat of Raavana are remotely comparable to the celebrations now, I am sure he must have felt overwhelmed.
I will leave you to the your preparations with a simple sweet recipe that you could try out this diwali.
Gajjar ka Halwa (Carrot pudding)
1) 5 cups carrot, grated
2) 4 cups whole milk
3) 4 tbsp ghee/clarified butter
4) ½ cup sugar
5) 50 grms raisins/kismis
6) 50 grms cashewnuts or badaam
7) ½ tsp cardamom powder
Fry cashewnuts or badaam in a tablespoon of ghee till lightly brown. Fry raisins for a few seconds and keep aside.
Pressure cook the grated carrot and milk till you hear one whistle. Heat the carrot mixture stirring continuously, till all the milk has been absorbed.
Add the remaining ghee, sugar, cardamom powder and fried nuts and raisins, and heat for a few more minutes.
I think gajjar ka halwa tastes best when it is warm. It could be served with icecream, whipped cream or as is.
Have lots of fun this Diwali, and a great year ahead !!!