Hooray…its that time of year again – Diwali!
I remember the fuss free Diwali parcels of the 1980’s – paper plates loaded with home-baked Diwali goodies and covered with a paper serviette. The kids got to wear new clothes and walked around the neighbourhood delivering these offerings. The aunties naturally compared the various parcels they received and this brought out their competitive side.
In the late 1990’s someone got really smart and decided to go one up on the Indian aunties by sending out their Diwali treats on a fancy plastic plate…it has gone downhill ever since. A new Diwali stress was added to the occasion – picking out a suitable tray or plate for the Diwali sweetmeats.
I also got caught up in the Diwali madness. I remember in 2000, I wowed everyone with 15 different sweetmeats that were sent out on brass platters – that’s what being newly married does for you! I was trying to impress the husband and in laws with my baking skills. And did it work for that relationship? Sadly not, my husband found somebody else who cooked and looked better!
Enough about my ex…..
Diwali is always a special time of year…for me, it means that I get to bake and eat like a pig! This year, I have compiled a Diwali recipe booklet which was sponsored by Spar (YAYYYYY) in association with The Daily News and Star Newspaper. For the past few weeks, I have been baking and cooking my heart out. 30 recipes were prepared and photographed – some were cooked a few times and naturally each tasting led to more tastings….and eventually gluttony. What can I say, my food is fabulous!
I hosted the Diwali cooking demo at the Angela Day Kitchen last weekend. It was a fun afternoon filled with laughs, tastings and there was a bit of the notorious Diwali sugar shock going around at the end. I roped my kids into assisting me with the demo since little hands are exactly what you need for Diwali baking….they are great at dunking sweetmeats in syrup, stirring chickpea flour for an hour and sprinkling coconut over the goodies. I always include my kids in the baking – I think it’s a great way of passing on some Diwali traditions without boring them with myths and legends. A special thanks goes out to the lovely Les Hamlyn from the Angela Day team for being a sport while I invaded her kitchen with my kids (it was a bit like a Diwali baking tribe).
I had two hours to complete 5 Diwali recipes….so I fired up my 40cm AMC Electro roast unit with 4 litres of Spar sunflower oil and I was good to go! I hate it when sunflower oil changes colour and cannot be re used especially for something like sweetmeats – delighted to report that the Spar oil stood the test of time and I got to finish all my frying without changing it! The AMC electric pan was a life saver – perfect for the heavy-duty frying around this time of year! We started out with Gulab Jamun, then went on to Jalebi and lastly the Laddoo.
- Frying the Gulab Jamun in a 40cm AMC Electro Roast Unit…
Here is the Gulab Jamun recipe…..
Gulab JamunIngredients:1 tin Spar condensed milk (385g)30ml water30ml Spar butter, melted30ml semolina10ml baking powder2,5ml bicarbonate of soda550ml Spar cake flour2,5ml ground cardamomSpar Sunflower oil, to deep fryDesiccated coconut, for sprinklingSyrup:750ml Spar sugar500ml cold water1 large cinnamon stick
To make syrup:Place the sugar, water and cinnamon stick in a thick bottomed pot.Stir well and bring to the boil until a thin, sticky syrup forms.Remove the syrup from the heat and keep warm.
Here’s how I do it:
Pour the condensed milk into a large mixing bowl.Pour the water into the empty condensed milk tin and ‘rinse’ to ensure that you get all the condensed milk out.Mix in the melted butter, ground cardamom and semolina.Sift the baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cake flour into the mixing bowl.Mix well until a soft dough forms but leave a few sticky patches in the dough as this will prevent the dough from becoming too dry.Grease a large baking sheet with non stick spray.Wash your hands and grease palms with a little oil.Mould small amounts of dough into balls,then roll into fingers and place them on the baking tray.Deep fry the fingers in preheated oil on a medium heat.Reduce the heat slightly when they start to swell to prevent burning.Turn the fingers to ensure they brown evenly.Remove from the oil and drain for a few seconds before soaking the fingers in the warm syrup.Remove from the syrup once the fingers start to sink.Place the gulab jamun on a wire rack and sprinkle the desiccated coconut over.Yudhika’s tips:Cover the dough with a damp cloth to prevent it from drying out.If the dough is too soft to mould into balls, add a little flour into the dough.