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Diwali – or the Festival of Lights as it is otherwise known is a Hindu festival which symbolises the victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance. The five day festival begins this weekend on Saturday, November 14.
Diwali is celebrated in either October or November each year, with the date dependent on the cycle of the moon.
The Festival of Lights celebrates Rama-chandra returning to his people after 14 days of exile.
Rama is the seventh incarnation of the god Vishnu, and during his exile, it is believed Rama fought the demon king Ravana.
To celebrate Rama’s victory, lights are lit in homes, businesses and streets, and the celebration is also regarded by some as the start of a new year.
Read More: Diwali greetings, messages and quotes: How to celebrate Diwali
Traditional Diwali Foods
Diwali is one of the most popular festivals in Hinduism, with families gathering to exchange gifts and spend the celebration together.
Food is a big part of Diwali celebrations, with food often shared at feasts attended by families.
Traditional foods served include samosas, aloo bonda, murukku, paneer tika and onion bhaji.
Aloo bona is a popular South Indian snack and contains potato which is shaped into balls and fried.
Paneer tikka is a dish made from chunks of paneer marinated in spices and grilled in a tandoor, while murukku are a deep-fried snack made with rice flour and urad dal flour.
Sweet treats are also served, with gulab jamun and moong dal ka halwa often made for Diwali.
Gulab jamun is a milk-solid-based sweet and will be enjoyed by those with a sweet tooth.
Moong dal ka halwa is traditionally eaten for celebratory or festive occasions like Holi, Diwali and marriages, and is made from mung lentils and ghee (clarified butter).
If you want to have a go at making a traditional dish, below is a recipe for vegetable samosas.
Vegetable Samosa recipe
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 potato (about 150g) finely diced
- 1 carrot (about 100g) finely diced
- 100g frozen peas
- 2 tsp curry powder or your own spices according to taste
- 100ml vegetable stock
For the pastry
- 225g plain flour
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2l vegetable oil to deep fry
To make the filling, heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and garlic, mix in the spices and fry for 10 minutes until soft.
Add the vegetables, seasoning and stir well until coated. Add the stock, cover and simmer for 30 minutes until cooked. Leave to cool.
To make the pastry, mix flour and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the centre, add the oil and 100ml water to make a firm dough.
Knead the dough on a floured surface for five to 10 minutes until smooth and roll into a ball. Cover in cling film and set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Divide the pastry into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and roll out into a circle of 15cm. Divide this circle into two equal pieces with a knife.
Brush each edge with a little water and form a cone shape around your fingers, sealing the dampened edge.
Fill with one tablespoon of mixture and press the two dampened edges together to seal the top of the cone. Repeat with the remaining pastry.
Heat the oil in a large deep saucepan to 180C. The oil should come a third of the way up the pan.
Deep fry the samosas in batches for eight to 10 minutes until crisp and brown. Take out and drain on kitchen paper.
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