We were asked about typical Diwali sweets and shared some of our family's traditions and favourite sweets to eat during the festival, including:
Ghatiya – chick pea flour noodles with spices, deep-fried snack
Chevda – deep-fried snack food with a medly of potato sticks, raisins, peanuts, spices
Gulab Jamun – milk based round doughnut-like balls simmered in a saffron syrup served warm
Barfi / Ladoos – various milk based sweets made with ghee, nuts and spices – various flavours like pistachio, almond, cashew, chocolate, coconut, mango
Shakarpara – All purpose flour sweetened with sugar syrup and ghee/oil with sesame seeds, deep-fried and cut into diamonds
Ghugharas – Gujarati pastry dumpling stuffed with sweetened semolina, nuts and spices, deep-fried
Matiya – Gujarati crispy bread made from moong dal, deep-fried eaten as a snack
Sutarferni – An all-purpose flour dough, deep-fried, fine noodles (looks like a bird’s nest) topped with sugar and pistachios
Talking about all these sweets brings back memories of childhood, which was a time when we used to make ALL of the above festive sweets - from scratch! One of our family traditions is to make Shakarpara which is only made once a year, during Diwali. We often make other sweets too, but this one is a mainstay on our Diwali sweet table!
For most of the above items, the common thread are the following ingredients -- sugar, ghee (clarified butter) and lots of deep-frying!
If you would like to try making a typical Diwali sweet in your home, here is an easy Indian-style shortbread called Nan Katai. It is perfect for dipping into a steamy cup of Masala Chai!
Chai Spiced Indian Shortbread with Saffron ~ Nan Katai (Khatai)
1/2 cup ghee or butter, softened
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 tsp. Arvinda's Chai Masala
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 cup flour
1/4 cup semolina
2 tbsp. milk
6-8 saffron strands
almonds, for garnish
Method: Preheat oven to 350F.
In a small bowl soak saffron in milk. Set aside.
In a bowl add butter and sift in icing sugar. Mix in Arvinda's Chai Masala and baking soda. Sift in flour. Mix in semolina. Mix in milk with saffron.
Shape batter into balls and slightly flatten into a discs. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until bottoms are golden in colour.
Makes 14 large or 20 small cookies.