Whether it's Diwali, Eid, Onam, Thanksgiving or Christmas, food is at the centre of the celebration of all festivals. And why not? That's just the way we like it—the khao, piyo, aish karo kinda life. While the lead up to the festival of lights is all taash parties and gold buying, the aromas wafting out of the kitchens all around the country and the true joy-bringers and really make us all feel like it's Diwali.
While there are certain ritual-based foods that a prepared on the morning of Diwali (five different preparations of poha/fov/beaten rice are prepared after bathing in some cultures) the true MVPs are the snacks and sweets that our binge dreams are made of. So much so. that many families have a faral, which is basically an assortment of higher-shelf life snacks and sweets that can be enjoyed at home or distributed to neighbours, family and friends. Everybody knows about the gulab jamuns, kheers, chivdas, sevs, bhujiyas and samosas, but it's time to let some other snacks and sweets shine, no?
Since there is no rule against playing favourites when it comes to snacks, I'm going to start with my all-time favourite. It's sweet. It's spicy. It's playful thanks to the swirls and is filled with sesame, poppy seeds and coconut. I love this snack.
In a battle of the ladoos, I think besan would win. I mean sure, motichoor ladoos have a special place in my heart, but good ol' besan bro is a classic. And when it's done right, you can taste the intermingling of the besan, ghee and sugar perfectly. Ah, bliss.
In recent years, there has been a lot of making fun of and dissecting of soan papdi and its value in the whole Diwali sweets gifting hierarchy, but I think its just the best. This flaky sweet made of milk, ghee, sugar, flour and elaichi is just melt-in-your-mouth good!
Mathri & Namak Para
This snack originating in Rajasthan is a flat, flaky biscuit made out of flour, water, spices and semolina. It is a perfect tea-time savoury snack. Namak para is a longer ribbon-like stripped version of pastry delicately seasoned with ajwain and cumin seeds in pure ghee. It is also called nimki and sometimes referred to as mathri as well.
Cholafali or Chodafali is a Gujarati snack that is made especially on Diwali and is a papad-like, super thin and crunchy snack that is spicy, salty and just addictive with a capital A. Once you start, you cannot stop. You have been duly warned.
Murukku or Chakli
Murukku is from South India made with rice flour and urad dal flour and spices. It is then formed into spirals and fried. And the primary and pretty much only difference between them and chakli is that the latter doesn't use urad dal flour. From my childhood, this has been one of my favourite snacks ever.
Gujiya, Karanji or Nevrios
Gujiya is famous in the north of India and refers to a deep-fried dumpling made with semolina or flour and stuffed with a mixture of sweetened khoya (thickened whole milk) and dried fruits. In Maharashtra and Goa, we also find these fried flour dumplings and is usually filled with sweetened coconut.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am usually Team savoury and this snack is one of the many reasons why. This is another Maharashtrian savoury snack that is made out of a mix of flour, namely, chickpea, urad, moong and rice flour, salt, and spices such as chilli, ajwain, or cumin.
I think I like shankarpali so much coz it's a fried sweet snack that I find is not overly sweet, like most Indian sweets tend to be. Plus, the diamond shape is quite whimsical, I'd say. Wouldn't you?
In Uttar Pradesh, you will find this rice biscuit that is made with jaggery, poppy seeds and our Diwali favourite, ghee!
In Goa, nankhatais are quite the rage. This desi shortbread biscuit is to die for when done right in my opinion and it's so, so simple to make too!
When it comes to mithais and barfis, you simply cannot get better than this one. Kaju is King for me (you can blame my being Goan for this) and that's that!
As far as halwas go, there are as many them as there are ingredients to be fair, but my Diwali favourites are gajar ka halwa and suji ka halwa.
Almonds coming together with condensed milk, flour, and saffron? How could this be a bad idea? Well, it isn't. It is in fact, simply the best idea.
Rounding this list off with a Diwali favourite that many may not know about. I didn't till very recently, but everything about sel roti is my vibe. This aromatic sweet rice bread that is shaped into a ring is popular in Nepal and regions in India like Darjeeling and Sikkim. It is a Diwali special and I guarantee, you'll want to add it to next year's faral.