When you travel, it’s such fun learning about other cultures, holidays and celebrations—especially through the eyes of your children. India and parts of southern Asia celebrate Diwali or Deepavali, the five-day October-November Hindu festival of lights, this week. Here’s your How-To Diwali Guide, courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai. Take a moment to teach the kids about this tradition (the biggest and brightest of the year), make a lantern or cook a special recipe together.
For Diwali, we light little clay lamps (diyas) and candles to symbolize the victory of good over evil. The scent of incense lingers in the air. We mark the occasion with great zeal, merriment and fervor—with fireworks, fresh flowers, exchanging of gifts, shopping for the house, buying new clothes, meeting new and old friends, prayers and offerings of traditional sweets. Diwali is also an auspicious time to buy a new home, close a business deal, start a new venture, redecorate and embark on a big cleaning spree.
Diwali diya lamps are made from clay and decorated elaborately with beads and sequins.
No-bake polymer clay
Hot glue gun
Sequins and beads
1. Knead a piece of clay the size of your palm until it is free of air bubbles and is malleable.
2. Flatten the clay and mold it into a teardrop shape. Lift the sides up so it forms a small bowl. The lamp should be small enough to hold in your palm. Smooth the edges and sides out. The center of the lamp should be big enough for the votive candle. You can even place the lamp on a flat surface and press the candle into the clay to ensure that it is flat and it will fit. Leave the lamp to dry for 24 hours.
3. Decorate your diya lamp with sequins and beads. Dab small beads of glue onto the lamp and then press sequins and beads into the glue. Tweezers will help you to pick up the sequins or beads and place them onto the glue. Let the glue dry for two hours.
4. Place a votive candle into the lamp and light it. Happy Diwali!
(Courtesy of: http://www.ehow.com/how_8765489_make-diwali-lamp.html.)
Burfi is an Indian dessert, with an almost fudge-like consistency. It is typically made with milk, nuts, flour and vegetables such as carrots, edible gourd, zucchini and winter melon.
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups grated carrots. (The size of grated carrots should resemble long-grain rice or orzo or little larger.)
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar or to taste
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup khoya or milk powder
1/2 tsp freshly ground cardamom
1/4 cup unsalted cashew halves
3 drops rose essence
Optional garnish: thinly sliced nuts of your choice
1. In a heavy saucepan, combine heavy cream and carrots. Bring the carrot mixture to a full boil, stirring constantly, and reduce heat. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until all the liquid has been evaporated, approximately 35 to 55 minutes.
2. Add the sugar, 1 tablespoon of the butter, milk powder, cardamom and freshly grated nutmeg. Mix well to combine.
3. Cook, stirring constantly, 10 to 20 minutes, or until the carrot mixture is quite thick like soft cookie dough. Add more butter if desired. Remove from the heat and add in the remaining ingredients. Stir to mix thoroughly.
4. Lightly grease an eight-inch round baking pan (or stainless steel thali). Pour the carrot mixture into the baking pan and spread the mixture evenly using a heat-proof metal spatula.
5. Sprinkle thinly sliced nuts of your choice on the top, if desired. Let it cool completely before cutting. Then cut into diamond shapes to serve. Refrigerate any leftovers. Makes 12 to 16 pieces.
Karanji are sweet dumplings, a popular dessert prepared in India for Diwali.
For the dough:
1 cup white flour
1 TB ghee (clarified butter)
Salt, a pinch
Warm milk, enough to make an elastic dough (add gradually)
Water or milk to seal the dumplings
For the filling:
1 cup dried coconut, grated
1 tsp ghee (clarified butter)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 pinch nutmeg
1 pinch ginger
4 cardamom pods
2 tsp white flour
2 tsp poppy seeds
2 tbsp mixed nuts, chopped
Oil for frying
1. First prepare the dough, then make the filling. Once you are done with both of them, you simply fill the dough dumplings and deep-fry.
To prepare the dough:
Mix 1 cup of flour with the ghee, salt and warm milk. Try to keep the dough a little hard; add the milk gradually to gauge consistency.
To prepare the filling:
1. Toast the dried coconut in the oven or in a pan, stirring often to keep from burning. Set aside.
2. Sauté the flour in the ghee til it turns golden-brown. Remove from the heat and set aside.
3. Toast the poppy seeds. Set aside.
4. Mix all the ingredients and mill them finely.
1. Roll out the dough into small oval-shaped rounds.
2. Place a spoonful of filling in the middle of each round.
3. Moisten the corners of each round by applying a tiny bit of water or milk to seal properly. Do not to apply too much water or it will not seal properly.
4. Deep fry the dumplings in hot oil till they turn brownish in color.
5. Serve hot or cold.
(Courtesy of: http://festivals.iloveindia.com/diwali/karanji.html.)
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Shruti Kohli is PR Coordinator at India’s Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai. She joined the hotel in July 2011. Shruti has an engaging, positive personality and the ability to converse with anyone about anything! From north India, Shruti is very close to her two-year-old niece and nephew. Her hobbies include reading, interior design, writing, singing, dancing, travel, photography and adventure sports.
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