Diwali is always a big occasion at home and there’s a lot of preparation that goes on in the weeks before it, from making snacks like chakri and preparing the menu for the feast to creating rangolis. As far back as I can remember, my grandfather, quite the expert in art and symmetry, would help us choose, measure out and then draw our designs on a board, which we would then fill using various coloured powders or dyed grains. My mother, grandmother and aunts would use food colourings to dye the grains and day by day, my grandfather would guide us on colour combinations, correct our mistakes and then brush up and perfect the final product.
Each year on New Year’s day, the day after Diwali, instead of going to school, we would dress in colourful Indian outfits and visit the homes of the elders in our family and family friends, after which there would be a small festive get together at our home, often at night with a fireworks display.
My grandfather still takes such pride in rangolis, and this year, in fact, a few days before Diwali marked his 90th birthday (by the Indian lunar calendar – which also means more than one celebration!) So it was an extra special year and an extra special Diwali.
These assorted balls are my Spice Bites covered in various powders and spices from matcha and turmeric to paprika and coconut flakes. So easy to make and so deliciously colourful. I didn’t have acai powder in the house, but that would have produced a lovely blue-purple ball – hence the attempt at colouring the coconut flakes using blueberries. Here’s the recipe for these ginger-kicking datey spice bites. Just a quick note that this recipe is great but I have changed how I make these spice bites since I published the recipe – I now use freshly squeezed ginger juice instead of ginger powder and I actually warm the mixture in a pan rather than blending it. Either is fine, of course!
And then, as part of the Diwali feast, there was also the bhel bar – here’s the recipe on Huffington Post; and for something a little heartier and warmer, the potato and kala chana with sweet tamarind. It didn’t stop there of course – irresistible fried snacks like chakri and more decadent sweet treats including roasted almond chocolates, fruit platters and my Christmassy festive almond butter thickened smoothie served in small shot glasses which went down a treat!
A celebratory week filled with colour, family, laughter, fireworks and food!
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Mira Manek's desire for healthy cooking combines her love of traditional Indian cuisine with her mother and grandmother's recipes to create lighter, healthier dishes.