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Diwali food alphabet: delicious food for every kind of foodie

Diwali is incomplete without a variety of sweets.
Image courtesy: ©subodhsathe/Getty Images

Celebrate Diwali by indulging the foodie in you. Here’s what you should feast on.

A for Anarsa

Anarsa  is a delicious pastry made of fermented rice flour and jaggery batter, often rolled in poppy seeds which give it a delicious nutty flavour and texture. It can take up to 10 days to prepare but it’s worth the effort.

B for Buddha Chakuli

Buddha Chakuli – fried pancakes made from a batter of ground black gram, cottage cheese, coconut and jaggery, and flavoured with cardamom and ginger – is a hot Diwali favourite in Orissa.

C for Chirote

These light and crisp, layered pastries made of flour and semolina are deep fried in pure ghee and come with a dusting of powdered sugar. They’re famous in Maharashtra.

D for Doodh Peda

Another classic Diwali sweet dish, doodh peda is simple milk fudge made with condensed milk, milk solids and sugar. It is flavoured with crushed green cardamom seeds and topped with flakes of almond or pistachio.

E for Ethakka Appam

Also known as Pazham Podi, Etthakka appams are sweet and fluffy ripe banana fritters flavoured with green cardamom. Word of caution: these are pretty addictive.

F for Farsi Puri

Most Gujarati homes make Farsi puris for Diwali. These deep-fried, savoury flat breads studded with caraway seeds are served with a piquant mango pickle and cup of piping hot tea make for a great snack.

G for Gujiya

Flaky pastries shaped into crescents and braided along the rim, stuffed with a sweet filling made of khoya and dry fruits and finally doused in sticky sugar syrup, gujiya is indispensable when it comes to traditional Diwali celebrations in the north.

H for Huggi

In Karnataka, a sweet version of the classic pongal is often made on Diwali or other festive occasions. Cooked in pure ghee, huggi is usually made of rice and yellow moong dal, desiccated coconut and jaggery. It is finished off with generous amounts of nuts and raisins. A dish that is precise in its sweet richness.

I for Imarti

Imarti is the quintessential festive sweet across India, especially in the north. The striking orange colour and the beautiful floral pattern make this sweet stand out. Imartis are made of saffron tinged urad dal batter, deep fried and doused in sugar syrup.

J for Jalebi

It is quite impossible to think of Diwali without piping hot Kesar tinged jalebis. Fermented flour batter is deftly piped into hot oil to form beautiful spirals which are then doused in sugar syrup. The result – crisp, chewy jalebis dripping cardamom scented saffron syrup. Served with a bowl of luscious rabri, they make for a royal Diwali treat.

K for Karanji

A close cousin of the gujiya, karanjis are half-moon shaped pastries with a thinly-fluted edge, stuffed with a spiced, desiccated coconut, poppy seeds, sugar and dried fruits instead of khoya.

L for Lapsi

Another quintessential Diwali delicacy, Lapsi is a sweet broken wheat porridge of sorts, cooked in pure ghee and flavoured with cardamom. Lapsi is considered auspicious in north western India and is a Diwali must in most homes.

M for Mohanthal

Mohanthal is another quintessential Diwali sweet in Gujarati homes. A mix of gram flour, ghee and milk is slow-cooked in ghee into thick fudge to which sugar syrup is added along with almonds and pistachio. The fudge is allowed to set and then cut in cubes. It is dense, rich and definitely festive.

N for Nippattu

Crisp and crusty deep fried discs made of a mix of flour, desiccated coconut, sesame seeds and a host of spices. It is a perfect tea-time snack for guests dropping in.

O for Obbattu

Another speciality from Karnataka, Obbattu is a stuffed, sweet chapatti fried in pure ghee. The stuffing is usually made of chana dal and jaggery, and flavoured with cardamom.

P for Pinni

A quintessential winter treat, pinni makes for an essential festive treat in Punjab. Made in desi ghee with wheat flour or urad dal, jaggery and crammed with almonds, cashew nuts and raisins, pinni is delicious and very Diwali.

Q for Quinoa Halwa

A brilliant innovation, the quinoa halwa packed with dry fruits will, at least make you feel a little less guilty about all those calories.

R for Rava Ladoo

Rava ladoo is sweetened semolina sculpted into balls. Soft and crammed with dry fruits, these melt-in-the-mouth ladoos glazed in ghee are a Diwali essential in Tamil Nadu.

S for Singal

Singal is a Kumaoni delicacy. Semolina, curd, sugar and banana are all mixed together to form a thick batter. It is then piped into hot oil to form thick pinwheels.

T for Thenkuzhal

Thenkuzhal is created when crisp, deep fried strings made of rice flour and urad dal, studded with white sesame seeds or cumin seeds are set and flavoured with a hint of asafoetida. These crunchy treats in between the fireworks will keep you all charged.

U for Ukkarai

An archetypal Tamil Brahmin preparation, Ukkari is a very popular Diwali sweet dish down south. Made of chana dal, jaggery, cashew nuts and raisins, it is akin to grainy halwa, fragrant with ghee and cardamom.

V for Vatana Usal

A spicy dried pea curry, vatana usal is a definitive Goan Diwali dish served alongside poha, another mandatory Diwali dish in the region.

W for Walnut (Akhrot) Sheera

The ghee soaked sheera or halwa made of coarsely chopped walnuts warms your heart with its comforting deliciousness.

X  for Xacuti

While Xacuti, a complex, spicy curry of Goan-Portuguese origin, is usually made with meat, a vegetarian version of the dish served with naan bread, could make for an excellent addition to your Diwali menu.

Y for Yam fritters

A typical Konkani snack, these semolina-crusted fritters are made of Indian yam or suran. Spiced with asafoetida and chili powder, these crunchy fritters make for delicious Diwali snacks.

Z for Zafrani Kheer

What is Diwali without a bowl of luscious kheer flavoured with cardamom and packed with dried fruits? What makes it even better is a generous sprinkle of saffron or zafran. The flavour and colour of the zafran, takes the humble kheer to a whole new level.


AUTHOR'S BIO: Priyadarshini Chatterjee is a freelance journalist/writer and food blogger based in Kolkata. More on: