When we think of Diwali, the festival of lights, celebrated by all Indians with gusto, the few things that come to mind include diyas and fairy lights adorning our homes, family get-togethers and of course, the special treats. Sure, laddus, barfis, and halwas are the go-to for Diwali, but different states of the country have their own unique specialties that are prepared exclusively for the festival of lights—from from Gujarat’s mohanthal to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar’s gulgule to Karnataka’s chiroti, and more.
Also read: Festive treats that love you back
Mohanthal – Gujarat and RajasthanMade using roasted gram flour (besan), khoya, sugar, milk, chopped nuts, and ghee, mohanthal is a sweet dense fudge-like dessert prepared on the auspicious occasion of Diwali. Most people prefer to buy this from a local mithai shop because making it at home can get tricky. Rama Joshi, a Gujarat-based homemaker, explains, “The method bears similarity to that of churma laddu. First, you need to make a medium firm dough of besan, make small dough balls out of it, and fry them in ghee. Once fried, break and grind the balls. Run it through a thick sieve, and add this back to the pan with more ghee, if needed. Add khoya and mix well. Once the mixture comes together, add sugar syrup (one string consistency) and nuts, and mix. Transfer the mix in a couple of plates and garnish with more dry fruits.”
Mawa Kachori - RajasthanImagine a ghee-laden, flaky pastry stuffed with a generous mixture of khoya, chopped nuts, cardamom powder, and sugar. Oh, wait! This food fantasy doesn’t end there. Right before this sweet-savoury kachori is served, it is dipped in sugar syrup and garnished with some more nuts and a silver vark aka silver leaf, to make it look more appetising.
Gulgule - UP and BiharPrepared on special occasions such as Holi and Diwali, gulgule are sweet dumplings. One of the simplest sweets on this list, these are made from a flowy batter of wheat flour, jaggery, and fennel seeds (saunf). The mixture is deep fried in ghee and the end product, gulgule, is served either with kheer or rabdi.
Mihidana - West BengalWhile the kheer kadam is a popular sweet for Diwali across Bengal, the state’s sweet tooth also expands to other desserts. For Diwali, which is celebrated as Kali Puja in West Bengal, mihidana is a popular choice. The sweet-makers from the city of Bardhaman are said to have mastered and perfected the art of making mihidana. The Bengali cousin of motichoor, mihidana is not eaten in laddu form, but on its own as small fine granules.
Also read: Learn how to make boondi at home)
Chiroti - KarnatakaChiroti is one of the must-have sweets in Karnataka during Diwali celebrations. This fried flaky Diwali treat features multiple layers of crispy dough. The highlight of the chiroti, however, is the fact that it comes dipped in a cardamom-flavoured sugar syrup. Doesn’t it sound delicious?
Karanji and Shankarpali – MaharashtraOne of the highlights of a Maharashtrian faral (festive snacks) is the karanji. It is a traditional sweetmeat, which has fried dough on the outside and a delicious coconut and jaggery filling within. There are several versions of this delightful treat in different parts of India – Gujarat has ghugra, Madhya Pradesh and parts of Uttar Pradesh have kusli, Goa has neuri and it is generically called gujiya across most north Indian states.
Shankarpali, on the other hand, are sweet and savoury, diamond-shaped biscuits that make for a great tea-time snack. There are multiple ways of making shankarpali. Some people first fry the biscuits and then dunk it in sugar syrup, so there is a thick, uneven layer of sugar on each of these snacks. While some heat a mix of water, sugar, and ghee and then bind the biscuit dough with this liquid. Once properly kneaded, they cut the dough in required shapes and deep fry the biscuits. A similar snack named shakkarpara is also a Diwali and Chhath Puja special in Bihar, Jharkhand and the nearby states.
(Also read: How to make chocolate gujiya)
Kheel Batasha – Delhi and parts of North IndiaToday, there are numerous types of mithai available to offer during Lakshmi Puja; however, the original prasad for the people of North India still remains kheel, a type of puffed rice, and batashe, a hollow sugar candy. Today, there are many variations of batasha available in the market–animal-shaped, tower-shaped, etc.
Adhirasam and Diwali Marundu - Tamil NaduAdhirasam, a doughnut-like pastry, is prepared mainly in Chettinad and a few southern districts of Tamil Nadu and is a popular offering to deities on festivals and special occasions. According to legends, this treat has been part of the Tamil culture since Raja Krishnadevraya’s time. And traditionally, it was prepared using rice flour, jaggery, butter, and pepper.
Coming to the Diwali Marundu, it is a traditional remedy that strengthens one’s digestive system and helps handle the food deluge during the festival. It is a mixture of carom seeds, poppy seeds, dry ginger, dry grapes, liquorice, palm candy, jaggery, chitrak, cardamom, black pepper powder, coriander powder, and ghee.
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