Diwali is the legendary Hindu festival, essentially the Christmas of India, that signifies the victory of good over evil, darkness over light, knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair. Families clean house, purchase new clothes, exchange boxes of sweets with loved ones, light candles and lanterns on rooftops in their front yard and on balconies.
Mango leaves, marigolds and jasmine flowers are floated in deep urns with candles. Prayers and sweets are offered to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and fertility, followed by a lavish feast with good cheer and joy all around. Fireworks in front yards and streets wrap up this gloriously decadent holiday.
Every region eats different treats for Diwali from decadent meat curries, kebabs, & pilafs to sweet laddus, mithai and dried fruits. The Sindhis from the province of Sindh typically eat a 7 vegetable stew with pooris (fried balloon bread) and hhalwa.
makes ~4 cups
¼ cup caramelized onions
2 inch piece of ginger, roughly chopped without peeling
2 Tbsp toasted whole cashews
few drops of kewra water
generous pinch of saffron
2 Tbsp fenugreek seeds
¼ cup ghee
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp black pepper, coarsely ground
1 cup carrots, cubed into 1 inch pieces
1 cup potatoes, cubed into 1 inch pieces
1 cup turnips, cubed into 1 inch pieces
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup lauki*, cut into ½ inch pieces
1 cup brussels sprouts, cut into quarters
1 cup red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch squares
½ tsp cardamom, ground
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 cup mixed cilantro, mint or basil
½ cup mixed toasted cashews
- Soak the garbanzo beans in enough water them for a few hours, drain, and cook in enough water to generously cover until soft (~45 minutes). When soft, drain & set aside.
- To make the masala, put the caramelized onions, ginger, almonds, kewra water, saffron and fenugreek into a food processor and mix until evenly grainy.
- Heat up the ghee and pop the coriander and mustard seeds then add the asafoetida and the masala. Cook on medium heat for 3-4 minutes stirring frequently.
- Next add the chili powder, ground black pepper, carrots, potatoes, turnips and continue cooking in the masala for 3-4 minutes on medium heat. The masala will darken a little but make sure it does not burn.
- Turn the heat down to its lowest setting, add the coconut milk and cover the stockpot. Let the vegetables simmer for another 15-20 minutes until they are almost done.
- Add the cooked garbanzo beans, lauki, brussels sprouts and red bell pepper and continue cooking at low heat for another 5 minutes. We want the red bell peppers and brussels sprouts to be cooked yet remain a bright color and slightly al dentè.
- Turn the heat off and let the curry rest for 10-15 minutes. Just before serving, stir in the ground cardamom, cherry tomatoes, herbs, toasted cashews.
*a lauki is a type of gourd, sometimes referred to as calabash.
ideas / variations
- Almost any vegetables will work with this recipe; be sure to add vegetable at the correct cooking time.
- This curry is also wonderful with a crusty loaf of bread or rice.
- It can be made a day ahead - just add the tomatoes and herbs at the end.
- To make vegan, sub out ghee for olive or coconut oil.