The Festival of Delectable Bites
Knowing that Deepavali is just around the corner fills us with a pleasant anticipation of brightly-coloured traditional dresses, oil lamps, decorative kolams or rangolis, and the gift of a home-cooked Indian feast. We look forward to getting up early on Deepavali morning to visit close Indian friends and colleagues who would be waiting to welcome us with a spread of mouth-watering delicacies, deftly prepared by their smiling elders who are delighted to see the house so full of people.
Fresh thosai is brought out right off the griddle onto your plate, and to go with it there would be mutton curry, dry chicken curry, coconut chutney, dhal (also called sambar), and a sweet dish to close off the meal which would normally be payasam – rice or vermicelli cooked in sweetened milk and garnished with fruits and nuts.
With the amount of guests present, it is customary to clear the dinner table area as soon as possible and find a cosy spot for the catch-ups and jokes to continue. Does this mean that our chance of having more food is over? You bet your muruku it isn’t – traditional snacks like omapodi (crispy chickpea-flour snacks), muruku, and a smattering of others are always within comfortable reach along with an array of Indian sweets.
It’s quite apparent that food, like all of our Malaysian festivities, lies at the heart of the celebrations during the Festival of Lights. This is why we’ve decided to feature some of our favourite Indian dishes with links to recipes that’ll help you recreate a Deepavali experience anytime you desire!
Thosai with Mutton Curry
Like two peas in a pod, these two delicacies go extremely well together. Thosai, or ‘Dosa’ as it’s more commonly known around the world, is an Indian crepe made from fermented rice and lentils. It can be tricky to get it right the first few times but it’s definitely worth persisting. Here’s a Dosa recipe for you to try at home: https://youtu.be/R6ztX7C7YR0
Mutton Curry should be rich and not too watery, with mutton pieces that are soft and tender. If done right, the aroma wafting through the air will have neighbours coming over to say hello because they ‘happened to be passing by’. Try this easy-to-follow recipe from Classic Masala Hut Recipes: https://www.facebook.com/classicmasalahut/videos/1619860601646216/
Chicken Varuval (Dry Curry Chicken)
Even with mutton curry present at the table, this classic Indian favourite manages to hold its own with its unique flavour. It’s a perfect dish for those who aren’t fans of red meat. The ingredients that go into this meal are quite similar to that of a regular chicken curry but the flavours are amplified by the dry gravy. You’ll know you’ve done a good job when your Indian friends tell you that “it’s been cooked varuval”.
Malaysians are no strangers to this South Indian dip as it is served with thosai in most South Indian restaurants. Apart from it being a very healthy addition to your diet, the flavours can be quite intense especially when made with generous amounts of green chilis. It also goes well with Idly, a fermented rice cake that’s commonly eaten for breakfast in South India. Try this Coconut Chutney recipe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4R6vr0TtmFU
Probably the most familiar element of Deepavali in Malaysia, these spiral-shaped snacks are made with rice and chickpea flour, cumin, sesame, and carom seeds. Some prefer the sweeter Achu Muruku, but we’ll never get enough of its distinctive savoury taste – complemented particularly well by a hot cup of tea. Give the recipe below a try and bring an Indian ‘twist’ to your teatime.
There’s always room for this lovely sweet dish no matter how full we feel from the main dishes. Pleasantly sweet with a hint of cardamom and garnished with nuts and raisins, we can’t refuse second helpings of this delicious warm dessert. Try the recipe below to see what we mean: https://indianhealthyrecipes.com/semiya-payasam-recipe/
Gajar Halwa (Caramelised Sweet Carrot)