November 2010 eRecipes

Blog: Cooking with Madhu

November 2010 eRecipes


November 2010
Happy Diwali!

Dear Madhu,

It has been a year since The Indian Vegan Kitchen: More than 150 Quick and Healthy Homestyle Recipes was released. It has been a wonderful and exciting year for me. When you take on a huge project like writing a book you basically do it with blind faith that everything will work out and when it does you are pleasantly surprised. I am happy to report that the book has exceeded my dreams and I thank all of you for that!
Happy Diwali! Translated as the Festival of Lights, Diwali may also be written as Dipawali or Deepavali. It is one of the main Hindu holidays; celebrated with similar reverence and merriment in India as Christmas is celebrated in the United States. The celebrations start almost a month before with various religious and social events. The main components of the holiday include cleaning the house, visiting family and friends, lighting oil lamps, praying to the goddess Lakshmi for wealth, enjoying lots and lots of food, and to top it off—setting off fireworks. It is a celebration of victory of good over evil and signifies the uplifting of spiritual darkness. Diwali is celebrated based on the lunar calendar and this year it’s on November 5th.

Comfort in Traditions: Each family has its own traditions related to the holidays. I started having a Diwali party when my kids were small with the intention of educating them about their own holiday. After a couple of years all my friends started calling it Madhu’s annual Diwali party and looked forward to it. The next thing I knew, this annual Diwali celebraton became a tradition amongst my family and friends. I have been hosting this annual gala for over 20 years. The house is lighted inside and out. My son decorates the front yard with lights and my daughter strategically places candles around the house. My husband takes care of the drinks and of course I’m the cook and the organizer. And now my son-in-law fills in and helps all of us. It’s a family affair. And friends help too. Everyone comes to the party dressed to impress in colorful Indian clothes and we spend hours feasting and regaling. As the night is winding down, we play cards – a little gambling is part of the Diwali tradition. I’m sure you can relate these to some of your own family holiday traditions.

November Recipes: One of the most important parts of holiday traditions is of course food. In my region in India, puri (fried bread) and aloo (spicy potatoes) are a must on Diwali. The trays of desserts remind me of Christmas cookies and so does the atmosphere. Puri (fried bread) and aloo (spicy potatoes) turn any meal into a celebration. They can be served for breakfast, brunch, or dinner. I’m also including a very simple dessert called halwa that just goes very well with this meal. Diwali or not, enjoy a meal of puri, aloo, and halwa and have your own party.

Fried Bread (Puri)

Spicy New Potatoes (Jeera Aloo)
Cream of Wheat Halwa (Sooji Halwa)

I wish you and yours A Very Happy and Prosperous Diwali. May all your wishes come true!

Happy and Healthy Cooking!
Madhu Gadia

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