Diwali, India's most important festival, which started on Monday and runs for five days, celebrates the pinnacle day today. 

The festival is celebrated by those of all faiths in India, but is most important for Hindu people. The name Diwali comes from the clay lamps that are lit to celebrate the inner light the protects from spiritual darkness.

Diwali symbolises the victory of light over darkness and is celebrated differently based on location:

  • In Northern India, the story of King Rama's return to Ayodhya after he defeated Ravana is celebrated by lighting rows of clay lamps.
  • In Southern India, they celebrate it as the day that Lord Krishna defeated the demon Narakasura.
  • In Western India, the festival marks the day that Lord Vishnu, one of the main gods of the Hindu trinity, sent the demon King Bali to rule the underworld.

Diwali lamps, Getty Images

Diwali lamps, Getty Images

Celebrating Diwali with Food

Diwali is a vibrant celebration that would be incomplete without delectable food. In the weeks preceding the festival, women join together to prepare snacks for the big day. While savoury food is also enjoyed throughout the celebrations, sweet dishes are prominently featured.

There are various events taking place around Ireland to celebrate Diwali, including a gala dinner in Dublin, but we have two recipes from the Jaipur Restaurants Group for you to try in case you want to mark the occasion at home.

Jaipur Restaurants have several locations around the Dublin area, from Jaipur Malahide to Jaipur Dalkey, Ananda in Dundrum and Chakra by Jaipur in Greystones, specialising in authentic Indian cuisine, that is truly Irish. 

The recipes below are for Kheer (an Indian rice pudding) and Samosas, two of the most popular dishes made for Diwali... Enjoy, and Happy Diwali to all our readers! 

Pista and Cashew Samosa

The samosa is reincarnated on Diwali, from the humble street food to this rich, luscious version. A bite into the golden crust of samosa gives way to a soft centre, filled with a rich mix of nuts scented with a touch of rose water.

Ingredients:

Serves 4

For the filling (pista burfi):

  • 150g sugar
  • 160ml water
  • 2 teaspoons rosewater   
  • 1 tablespoon liquid glucose
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • 360g pistachios, coarsely crushed
  • 200g cashew powder
  • Oil, for frying
  • 2 sheets beaten silver, for decoration

For the dough:

  • 200g plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons icing sugar
  • 40ml ghee
  • Water

Method:

  1. To make the filling, place the sugar and water in a thick-bottomed pot. Cook over a medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture forms a thick syrup. 
  2. Add the liquid glucose, ghee and the rose water to the pot and mix well.
  3. Add pistachios and cashew powder, mix well and remove the pot from the heat. Allow the mixture to cool.
  4. To make the dough, place the flour and icing sugar in the in a bowl and rub in the ghee. Add enough water to bring the mixture together and knead into a stiff dough.
  5. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and leave for fifteen minutes to rest.
  6. Divide the dough into eight equal portions and roll into balls.
  7. Apply a little ghee to each ball and roll out into oval shapes.
  8. Cut each oval into two pieces. Take one piece in your hands, apply a little water on the edges and shape into a cone.
  9. Fill the cones with prepared pista burfi and seal the base. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
  10. Heat the oil in a deep pan and deep fry the samosas until golden, then drain on kitchen paper. 
  11. Top the samosas with beaten silver and serve hot.

Samosas. Image credit: Jaipur Restaurants

Samosas. Image credit: Jaipur Restaurants

Read more: Indian Flatbread

Rice Kheer:

Kheer is an indulgent mix of milk and rice, which is sweetened with fresh jaggery. The dish is then enhanced with flavours of bitter and sweet almonds, crushed green cardamom, dried rose petals and saffron. The texture of broken, simmered rice adds a rich texture and body to this simple, yet delectable pudding. 

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 litre full-fat milk
  • 60g basmati rice
  • 100g jaggery
  • 4 cardamom pods, ground to a fine powder
  • 2 tablespoons blanched, chopped almonds, plus extra for garnish
  • 2 teaspoons dried rose petals, plus extra for garnish
  • A pinch of saffron

Method:

  1. Wash the rice and soak it in water for about 30 minutes – This will help to cook it quickly. 
  2. While the rice is soaking, bring the milk to the boil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot.
  3. Drain the rice and add it to the milk. Cook over a medium heat until the rice is soft, completely cooked and slightly mushy.
  4. Add the jaggery to the pot and continue to cook until the kheer thickens. Stir the mixture frequently to prevent burning.
  5. Stir in the cardamom powder, dried rose petals and almonds. Continue to cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Take the pot off the heat when the rice kheer reaches a runny consistency, as it will thicken as it cools.
  7. Divide the kheer between four bowls and garnish with the extra almonds, rose petals and the saffron to serve.

Kheer. Image credit: Jaipur Restaurants

Kheer. Image credit: Jaipur Restaurants

For more information about the Jaipur Restaurant group, click here

Let us know in the comments below how you'll be celebrating Diwali.