Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Get Ready for Diwali 2013

Diwali 2013
Light decorations before upcoming Diwali celebrations are pictured in Kuala Lumpur October 27, 2013. Reuters via International Business Times.
We hope you are enjoying "the festival of lights" known as Diwali or Deepavalli!

If you're not familiar with the holiday, this explanation from India: A Culinary Journey by Prem Souri Kishore may illuminate:

The festival of lights, called Deepavalli in the South of India and Diwali in the North, is perhaps the most widely celebrated festival in India and marks the return of Lord Rama, the hero of the epic Ramayana, to Ayodhya after a fourteen-year exile in the forest. The name of the festival is derived from the Sanskrit word "deepavalli" which means a row of lamps. Thousands of lights illumine every city and village across India in the month of November. Fireworks are set off to guide Lord Rama home. There is much feasting, card games are played, gifts are exchanged, new clothes are worn, and gold is bought. Residents renovate, paint, remodel, or buy new property, while business houses give every employee a special bonus; and the day is regarded as the beginning of the financial year. It is almost like New Year. This festival is noted for the preparation of every kind of sweet dish. Sweet shops sell or give away sweets to customers. Every household delights in making specific Deepavalli sweet preparations, while every woman firmly believes that buying new clothes and jewelry during this time is auspicious. 

Hippocrene Books publishes many cookbooks that celebrate the Diwali holiday. Here are just a few recipes you could use in your feast this year. 

Fish in Ginger-Garlic Sauce from Indian Inspired Gluten-Free Cooking

Most types of fish lend themselves beautifully to Indian spices. Here the flavors of garlic, chili, ginger, and a range of spices make the fish irresistible. Use any firm fish such as halibut, red snapper, striped bass, catfish, haddock, pollock, salmon, tilapia, or whitefish.

2 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped tomato
6 garlic cloves, quartered
1/2 fresh green chili pepper, chopped (more or less to taste)
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper Cumin Powder (page XX)
1/4 teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)
1 cup no-salt-added tomato sauce
1/2 cup warm water
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1/2 pound boneless skinless fish fillets, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat (the oil should be hot but not smoking). Add fennel seeds and cumin seeds and stir until seeds change color from light brown to semi-dark brown.

2. Add onion, tomato, garlic, chili pepper, and turmeric. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes while stirring.

3. Add cayenne pepper, ground cumin, garam masala, Black Pepper Cumin Powder, and salt. Add tomato sauce and warm water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Add ginger. Cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

4. Add fish pieces and cook over medium-low heat, spooning sauce over fish occasionally, until fish is opaque in the center, about 5 to 7 minutes.

5. Serve garnished with cilantro.

Yield: 3 cups
Serving size: 3/4 cup

Nutrition per serving:
310 calories
17 g fat
2 g saturated fat
55 mg cholesterol
376 mg sodium
17 g carbohydrate
4 g fiber
26 g protein
976 mg potassium

Roasted Vegetables from Indian Inspired Gluten-Free Cooking

Nothing beats the simple appeal of a colorful blend of roasted vegetables in a light seasoning.

4 tablespoons oil

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
1/4 teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)
5 cups raw vegetables, cut into pieces, such as:
1 cup broccoli florets, cut in half
1 cup cauliflower florets, cut in half
1 cup brussels sprouts, stem ends sliced off and cut in half
1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut in cubes (about 1 cup)
1 cup peeled and cubed butternut squash

1. Preheat oven to 425°F.

2. In large bowl, combine oil, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, and salt.

3. Add vegetables and toss to coat. Spread out in a single layer on a dark baking sheet. If they are too close to each other, they will steam instead of roasting. Dark baking sheets work best to brown vegetables.

4. Place in oven and roast 10 minutes. Check to see if they are starting to brown. If not, return to oven for 5 minutes. When edges are browned, stir and bake 10 minutes longer or until vegetables reach desired softness. Cooking time will vary based on your individual oven and how well done you like your vegetables.

Yield: 3 1/2 cups

Serving size: 1/2 cup

Nutrition per serving:

120 calories

8 g fat
0.5 g saturated fat
0 mg cholesterol
110 mg sodium
10 g carbohydrate
3 g fiber
2 g protein
266 mg potassium

 Soan Papdi (Flaky Sweet Squares) from India: A Culinary Journey

These treats are boxed in Indian stores everywhere and are perfect gifts for the festival. 

1 1/4 cups gram flour
1 1/4 cups maida (fine white flour)
1/2 pound ghee
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom 

1. Sift flours together. Heat ghee in deep pan. Add flour mixture and roast on low heat until golden brown. Set aside, stirring occasionally. 

2. Mix sugar, water, and milk together in a saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until it forms a syrup, about 10 minutes.

3. Pour syrup onto flour mixture. Beat well with fork until you get threadlike flakes. Pour onto greased surface and roll to one-ince thickness.

4. Sprinkle ground cardamom on top and press down with palm. Coll and cut into one-inch squares. 

Kueh Tat Pineapple Tarts from Flavors of Malaysia

For the Pastry
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted chilled butter
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Pineapple Jam Filling
1/4 to 1/3 cup (depending on desired sweetness) firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
1/2 to 3/4 cup (depending on desired sweetness) white granulated sugar
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, or 1-inch cinnamon stick
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, or 3 to 4 whole cloves
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground star anise or 4 segments of whole stare anise
3 cups (about 1 pound) canned pineapple chunks, drained, or fresh pineapple chunks

Directions for Pastry: 
1. In a bowl, sift flour and add salt and mix well. Slice chilled butter into pieces and add to flour. Mix with fingers till dough has a crumbly texture.

2. In a small bowl, beat egg with lemon juice and vanilla. Ad this mixture to the crumbly dough and knead till dough gets soft and pliable. (Chill dough, if desired.)

3. Roll on a floured board into 1/8-ince thickness.

4. Cut dough into 2-inch diameter circles using a cookie or tart cutter or mold. Shape the dough into cup-like forms, or place dough circles in greased mini cupcake pans, and flute edges with fork. Set aside or refrigerate till ready to use.

Directions for Filling:
1. In a small bowl, mix sugars and spices and mix well.

2. Grate or coarsely process pineapple chunks.

3. Place pineapple in a saucepan, add the sugar mixture and stir.

4. Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes over low heat, stirring constantly so mixture does not burn, till all the liquid evaporates and mixture thickens and becomes a golden brown color.

5. Remove whole spices if used. Cool of chill jam filling for about 30 minutes before filling pastry. (You can prepare pineapple jam filling ahead of time and keep refrigerated or frozen. When ready to use, add some water and blend the filling well before use.)

 To Assemble Tarts:
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Add about 1 heaping teaspoon pineapple filling in center of each pastry cup. Flute rims with fingers or fork.

2. Optional: decorate or criss-cross top of filling with 2 or 3 strips of dough about 1/2 inch long and 1/8 inch wide, or roll tiny balls of dough and place one on top of filling.

3. Brush top and sides of pastry with eggs whites before baking. 

4. Bake tarts at 350 F for 25-30 minutes, till crust turns golden. Cool before serving.

Hippocrene titles to consider using in your Diwali prep!

 Have a happy Diwali!  

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