• Kieumy, BOM, London

The Indian Festival of Lights - Diwali

This month, I’m back with another cultural celebration that is observed in India. Diwali, known as the festival of lights, is a five day festival that generally falls between mid October and Early November every year. It is known to be the celebration of the victory of good over evil and is also the beginning of the new year in the Hindu calendar. Indians celebrate Diwali by lighting a row of lights all around the house. During Diwali, families get together, people buy new clothes and utensils, give presents to friends and family, gorge on sweet delicacies, and of course crack the fireworks.


Food is a very important aspect throughout celebrating Diwali as it is a joyful time. There are many different things that might be eaten during Diwali, but it is most known for the sweets. Indian sweets are a little different from candies and desserts from the rest of the world, as they are often considered more “sweetmeats”. Many use nuts or vegetables as a base, condensed down with sugar and maybe milk.

Some of the common sweets had during Diwali include:

  • Karanji - Similar to empanadas, these are crescent shaped small pastries that are stuffed with poppy seeds, grated coconut, sugar, nuts and cardamom.

  • Halwa, carrot halwa or pumpkin halwa, is typically made with a grated vegetable cooked with ghee, sugar and milk/condensed milk so that it becomes soft, sweet and thick. Often flavored with cardamom and/or nuts.

  • Ladoo - little balls made with flour, ghee or oil and sugar and often nuts and dried fruits.

  • Chirote - A light and flaky dessert pastry, which is stuffed with a sugary filling, deep fried, and usually served drizzled with syrup.

  • Barfi is a kind of fudge made with condensed milk. It is cut into neat cubes, triangles or diamonds, and there are all sorts of flavours, colours, shapes and textures that one can choose from to make the sweet indulgence a memorable affair.

  • Gulab Jamun are soft delicious berry sized balls made of milk solids, flour & a leavening agent.

  • Kheer rice pudding is super easy to make and includes only three basic ingredients- rice, milk and sugar.

Some of the savoury snacks served during Diwali include:

  • Chivda, is a tea time snack that combines nuts and chickpea/lentil/rice-based ingredients.

  • Bhaji or pakora are made from various vegetables like onion, spinach and cabbage mixed with chickpea flour and spice-based dough and fried.

  • Samosas, (if you love Indian food, I’m sure you have already heard of samosas). They are little parcels of pastry filled with vegetables like potato and peas, as well as spices.

  • Aloo Tikki is made with potatoes that are shredded and formed into small patties before being fried.

  • Murukku is a spicy fried snack made with rice flour and cumin seeds

  • Puri, a kind of flatbread that is fried in ghee or oil


This Diwali, ditch the fancy dishes and ingredients and light up your homes by trying out one of these truly traditional Indian Diwali special dishes!

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