How do you plan to celebrate Diwali this year? Go shopping for clothes, sweets, gifts, serial lights, stick-on-rangolis or settle for a homemade Diwali?
Back in those days there was no buying of boxes of sweets and gift hampers to exchange with friends and relatives. Everything was made from scratch – the sweets, the savory snacks; the cleaning and decorating of the house; sometimes even the clothes were stitched at home by the womenfolk. And oh, the rangolis! They used to be huge and colourful and neighbours competed to outdo each other in the size and colours of the patterns. Diwali was a celebration of love, sharing joys and lots of oil diyas in every house. And crackers too. Ugh!
Days before the festival, the whole street would be suffused with the aromas of chaklis, murukkus, laddoos, karanjis, chiwda, burfis and more goodies. The quantities of these were enormous. We needed to share them with our neighbours and then have enough left over, as guests dropped in during the holidays for tea and snacks. On Diwali, we kids would be busy shuttling between houses, carrying trays laden with sweets to and fro. In between, we would be stuffing ourselves to the gills with goodies! But then, we would have been fortified with the special Diwali ‘medicine’ to prevent any stomach ailment. More about it later.
This and the crackers were the spoilsports for me during the festival.
On Diwali day, we would be woken by the string of firecrackers that father burst to announce the victory of Lord Krishna over Narakasura. With that, Diwali was officially on! Mother would have lit the lamp and arranged all the sweetmeats and namkeens in the puja room. Among all the goodies, there would be a small dabba with a halwa-like thing in it – The Medicine!
After wearing our new clothes and touching the feet of elders, we would look at and drool over the spread but would we get to eat them? No sir! We had to first have a spoonful of the ‘medicine’. Needless to say, I didn’t like it one bit on early in the morning on Diwali!
I also told you about the other spoilsport, didn’t I? I still don’t like firecrackers especially, the 1000-wala or 10,000-wala or million-wala strings that go on and on, splitting eardrums, terrifying dogs and other pets, causing respiratory problems and burn injuries, and creating mountains of garbage the day after. No, I positively hate firecrackers.
As I grew older, I began liking the ‘medicine’, which is very effective in preventing and even curing stomach problems. It is actually very tasty too, you know. So I am going to share the medicine recipe, which is very simple. Why don’t you try it at home during this Diwali?
Coriander seeds – 1 tbsp
Jeera – 1 tbsp
Peppercorns – 1 tsp
Ajwain – 1 tsp
Dry ginger powder – 1 tsp
Long pepper (pippali) 1 tsp (don’t worry if you can’t find it)
Badi elaichi – 1
Cardamom powder – ¼ tsp
Jaggery – 8-9 tbsp (or double the quantity of the powder mix)
Ghee – 1 tbsp
Dry roast the ingredients lightly till they emit their aroma. Don’t roast till they turn colour. Use the ginger powder as it is. Grind to a fine powder. In a small kadhai, add just enough water to cover the jaggery. Once the jaggery comes to a rolling boil, add the powder and keep stirring till it comes together. Add the ghee and stir till the mixture reaches halwa consistency. Don’t cook too much as it would harden to a lump. Remove from fire, cool and store. And don’t forget to eat a spoonful the first thing on Diwali day!
Wish you all a very happy, safe and cracker-free Diwali! Remember it is a festival of lights and joy, not noise and pollution!
The author is your regular neighborhood granny. Loves cooking, feeding her friends and family, telling tales and reading children’s books among others — on her Kindle. She is comfortable with people her age, older than her and of course all youngsters right down to infants. And oh, she is in tune with the times too. She has seen the telegram transform into Twitter and telephone into WhatsApp. You could call her Gadget Granny Seeta, if you like. She loves saying that the tip of her tongue is in the fingers on her keyboard!