Monday, October 19, 2009

Happy Diwali! (with recipes)

For the past 7 or 8 years, Diwali has meant inviting friends over and making very large meals.  I love everyone coming together, and George, Catherine and I would cram our apartment in New York with all the people we love and eat a lot!  I remember our first Diwali in Manhattan, driving around the East Village grocery shopping and listening to the Smiths.  Sometimes Deepa would come down from Boston, and I remember one year we tried to make paneer!

Mostly I remember everyone crammed into that tiny apartment on 2nd street eating.  I appreciated so much, that regardless of whether it was their first or twenty-first Diwali, everyone really participated in making it a festive celebration, especially Catherine and George.

In Berkeley, we've invited everyone over for a special meal, but it hasn't been quite the same.  One year, there was a conference and I came home as the party was already started.  I remember Deepa making a special Persian Love Cake for a certain someone during the POGD.  Last year we celebrated Diwal-O-ween with a little weiner dog.

I was a chili pepper. 

This year, I was looking forward to Paddy and I celebrating our first Diwali together in the same place, even though this place does not have the friends I have come to depend on.

There was a lot of cooking, and I will spread the recipes over a couple of posts (especially since I am waiting for more pictures of our little party last night).  There was a lot of cooking, and to be perfectly honest, some things did not come out very well.

(A dramatic re-enactment of the meal)
I made

Manjula's parathas
Kala channa masala
Aloo muttar gobi
Carrot Salad
Pickled Onions
Takkali Sadam (Tomato Rice)

I won't say a lot about the recipes I took from other bloggers.  Manjula's parathas were delicious as always.  I was having a bit of a hard time getting the heat right, as many of the parathas did not puff as well as they should have.  I made my own ghee, and it came out so well!  And I definitely used a lot of ghee to keep the parathas soft after they came off the tawa.  They were a big hit.  My one recommendation for Manjula's parathas, is that you are better making four bigger parathas than the 5 she suggests her recipe makes.

For the kesari, I did not use kesari powder, but added two pinches of saffron when I added the cardamom.


I have to say, the recipes from Mad Tea Party were not that great.  I probably screwed up the proportions, and I definitely did not add enough salt at the final tasting.  The chole was too spicy, not hot, but just too much of the spices.  The aloo gobi tasted ok, but I should have chopped the potatoes smaller, because they did not cook as quickly as the cauliflower.  Maybe added the potatoes first and the then the cauliflower?  Anyway, mushy cauliflower, hard potatoes.  Yuck.

The Keera went really well.  As did the thakkali sadam, my mom's recipe.  I'll post the Keera recipe and the carrot salad recipe today, and post the thakkali sadam recipe tomorrow.  Hopefully I will have other pictures than these pictures of the leftovers!

Keera (spinach)
takes 20 minutes (mostly for washing spinach)
makes 4 servings

1 pound spinach, very well washed
1 tsp. urad dal (skinned and split) 
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1/4 tsp. crushed chili pepper flakes, or 1 dried red chili

Ok, this happens quickly, so gather all your ingredients.  Heat oil on medium high heat in a large saute pan.  When it is very hot, add the urad dal, and toast until light brown.  Add the cumin seeds, when they become brown and very fragrant add the red chili pepper.  Wait 2 seconds, and add the spinach.  It might not all fit into the pan at first.  Add salt and keep stirring, it will reduce very quickly.  Cook until the spinach is done, to your taste.  I like it barely cooked (about 1 minute once it's all in the pan) so it is still very bright green.  Paddy likes the spinach very well done, about 3 minutes.

You can also use frozen spinach.  Let it thaw (for about 20 minutes).  Cook a bit longer than you would fresh spinach.

Carrot Salad
takes 20 minutes
makes 4 servings

3 carrots
1 green chili, split lengthwise
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 lime
handful cilantro

Wash and peel the carrots.  Grate.  Add green chili and salt to taste, about 1/2 tsp.  Squeeze the juice of the lime onto the carrots.  In a small saute pan heat oil on medium high heat to very hot.  Have the lid ready.  Add the mustard seeds.  When they begin to pop, put the lid on and turn off the heat!  When the spluttering has subsided, spoon the mustard seeds out of the pan onto the carrots.  Mix it all together, and let sit for about 10 minutes.  Top with cilantro.

Carrot salad is really good with yoghurt rice and also rasam and rice.  

To all of my Berkeley and New York friends, I miss you so much!  Diwali is not the same in Canada.  Great people, good food, but not the same.

More recipes coming!


  1. The Kesari looks so yummy! I wish I could have a bowl full of warm kesari, a few bajjis and a cup of tea.

  2. I had a nice Diwali, cooking for the first time... was the chef-in-chief on the festive day!

  3. Your pepper stem hat!! I'm sad now, and will go...

  4. aw, Radhika! I too was sad not to have the excuse to spend all of Saturday cooking with you! Making paneer with you and Deepa in NYC was like magic!

    on a less sentimental note: I LOVE that carrot salad and think it is the most yummy thing ever -- so refreshing and good for you! AND, you can make it in the middle of the winter and it's just as good as in the summer -- an amazing thing.