The build up to the New Year begins with one of the world’s grandest festivals in October – Diwali. The celebration of food and friendship in the backdrop of lights and crackers makes for an all-round festive atmosphere that continues well into the wee hours of the morning. Here’s a list of must-try Diwali dishes and the perfect drinks to enhance their flavour, setting the mood for fun and festivities.
Chaat Canapés: This simple Indian street food has made its way to every corner of the world, and why wouldn’t it? The melange of spices, potatoes, cumin, yoghurt and a host of other condiments is a welcome assault to the taste buds. By the time you decipher what you just ate, you already want more. It ain’t chaat if it doesn’t come in cute canapés.
Drink to go with it: Our pick would be the classic Bloody Mary. Too basic, you reckon? We agree. That’s why this wouldn’t be the regular kind you’re used to. We suggest the masala Bloody Mary, which adds a spicy flavour to this favourite drink. The trio of Worcestershire sauce, tabasco sauce, and white pepper is what lends this drink its unique flavour. To this you sprinkle garam masala, and add a touch of rock salt. Must try!
Achari Aloo: Show us someone who doesn’t like potatoes! Now the only thing that’s better than potatoes in the usual style are the variety that’s tempered with some mild spices. Onion seeds, turmeric, garlic, vinegar and mustard oil lend this dish its tangy flavour. The best part? It’s a breeze to prepare too.
Drink to go with it: Marigold Martini is your best bet. Its sweetness serves as the ideal way to counter the spice and the herbal, floral notes puts you into the right frame of mind to enjoy the evening ahead. This is definitely one of those drinks that’ll have you going for a second glass – even before you know it.
Biryani: Diwali celebrations aren’t complete without a biryani on your menu. Irrespective of whether you choose lamb or chicken, the layered ‘Dum Biryani’ with its flavouring of mint and spices ensures the partying goes well into the night. While recipes vary across regions and countries, it is a fairly easy dish to prepare at home. Biryani may have originated in far-off Persia, but has sure found its way right into our hearts.
Drink to go with it: We suggest you serve a bottle of Shiraz to complement your main course. This red wine is perfect for the flavoured rice and meat preparation.
Spinach Paneer (Saag Paneer): A delectable dish that infuses colour and taste to your dinner menu, saag paneer is a favourite among vegetarians. Cottage cheese cubes sautéed in pureed spinach gravy and served with butter – enjoyed best with fragrant rice and flat breads.
Drink to go with it: It is a good idea to offer guests the Rose or Riesling to accompany their main course. Fruity, flavourful wines add a dash of sweet to the palate. Another recommendation here is the Sauvignon Blanc.
Dessert Bar with Kaju Katli, Shahi Tukda and Kheer: If Diwali is the king of festivals, the desserts served during the festival are embellishments on the crown. Diwali is a dessert lovers’ dream come true. Choosing between kaju katli (made with blended cashews in sugar and milk) and Shahi Tukda (an Indian bread pudding soaked in milk, spices and saffron) isn’t easy, so we suggest you try them all. Top it off with Kheer, a traditional Indian sweetmeat made with rice, vermicelli, and garnished with dry fruits.
Drink to go with it: Team the dessert bar with interesting dessert cocktails. Try the Brandy Alexander and give your sweet tooth a lot more to choose from. Draw the night to a close – all happy and high.
This Diwali let your spirits soar!