Monday, 16 October 2017

Indian expats set for a big bang Diwali

It's that time of the year again. Diwali is upon us. While South Indians celebrate "Deepavali" with murukku and legiyam, North Indians commemorate "Diwali" with chakli and gujiya.

Indian homes will flaunt their best lights, diyas and rangoli until some guest literally walks over your hard work and talent. The new 'abstract art' leads to more laughter. The rangoli is of utmost importance, owing to its symbolic welcoming of Goddess Lakshmi's first steps into the home - the age-old celebration draws its roots from an interesting belief that the goddess (representing wealth and prosperity) will grace homes on the auspicious day.

Getting rid of the old and bringing in the new is the mantra. Families join hands and work as a team days in advance to go on a Diwali cleaning spree. Shopping instantly becomes an integral part (read: ritual) of the festival as people stock up on sweets, flower petals, coloured rice and dry flour to decorate as well as cook up scrumptious treats. Regardless of staying in a 'home away from home' environment with shops that specialise in Diwali offerings, some families prepare sweets and savouries at home.

Stores that sell special Diwali items are generally crowded ahead of the festival. The city's prominent Indian designers exhibit extravagant, beautiful Diwali outfits. People throng shops to choose from a wide, colourful range of diyas, jewellery, clothes, candles, sweets, flowers, and wall or door hangings. Al Adil, Puranmal, Choithrams, Madhoor, Lulu Hypermarket, Bikanervala, and Kamat Shireen should tick all the boxes in your Diwali checklist.

"We mostly go to Bur Dubai for Diwali shopping, and we buy Lord Ganesh and Lakshmi idols, items for the puja, a thali, diyas, dry fruits, and the requirements for a rangoli. The Bur Dubai market is always very crowded during the festival," Dubai resident Manju Rathore says.

Run by a Bohri family, Bombay Sweets & Bakery in Al Nahda sports an unmissable spirit during Diwali. Days in advance, the restaurant shuts its usual catering service to specialise in sweets and cater to families that celebrate the festival.

"Family time, colourful rangolis, diyas, gorgeous dresses, and mouthwatering sweets are the things that sum up my Diwali. After cleaning and dusting every corner of the house, we decorate the doorstep. We tie the 'toran' (decorative door hanging) to the front door. It's made of marigold flowers and mango leaves. It is essential that diyas made of mud are lit at the entrance and in front of the tulsi plant in the house," shares another Dubai resident, Vidya Adivi, about her South-Indian household celebrations.

Dhanteras marks the beginning of this five-day-long festival that culminates in Diwali. It's an equally significant day when people buy items made of metal to 'do away with any negativity and bring in good luck'.

"We make our homes spick and span, and the delicacies cooked are a test of time. Family and friends can't wait to eat. Kids are ready and well-dressed, to show their sparkles are the best. Lanterns and candles glow at night, as we approach the festival of lights," shares resident Kavita Bhatt with her poetry.


What's Diwali without a lot of sweets?

We learn how to make a Diwali Dessert Platter from Chef Shashwat Shivam, Jodhpur Royal Dining, Roda Al Murooj.

PHIRNI BRULEE with Fresh Fruit and Mithai Petit Four

40g moong dal, soaked and ground

20g khoya

30g ghee

30g sugar

For the Phirni

100ml milk

35g sugar

15g rice, soaked and ground

2 strands saffron

For fruits for garnishing

Chop watermelon, dragon fruit and papaya into 1" cube each.

To serve:

For phirni brulee, sprinkle sugar on top of the phirni and caramelise it with a blow torch.

Cut the pinni and kaju barfi into 1" cubes and place it in cubes of dragon fruit and watermelon respectively.

Cut the gulab jamun into half and place it on the cube of papaya.

On a platter, place a ramekin of brulee with fresh fruit and mithai petit fours.


20g khoya

10g paneer

20g sugar

10g semolina

10g flour

50g ghee, for frying

Grate paneer and mash it with khoya until smooth.

Add flour and semolina and mix again.

Make sugar syrup.

Take the dough and roll it between the palms to make balls of 1/2" diameter size.

Heat the ghee and fry the balls in it until golden brown. Soak it in sugar hot syrup.


40g cashew nut, soaked and ground

20g sugar

Saute cashew nut and sugar until it becomes thick and sticky.

Grease a tray and transfer the mixture to the tray. Allow it to cool at room temperature for two hours.

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