What memories does Diwali conjure up for you??
The sound of firecrackers mingles with melodious, Deepavali songs and the hustle and bustle of throngs of people dressed in their holiday best as they head to visit friends and relatives to wish them the good tidings of the season. The aroma of sandalwood mingles with the unmistakable aroma of cardamom, nutmeg and every aromatic spice imaginable as every household scrambles to put the choicest of delicacies on holiday tables adorned with the earthen oil lamps that are the hallmark of this festival of lights. And who could every forget the gorgeous rangolis with their vivid colors and exquisite designs vying for attention with the equally colorful paper lanterns that welcome every guest that steps over the threshold.
Diwali, the festival of lights is one of the biggest, and most eagerly awaited festivals celebrated by Hindus the world over. It conjures up vivid memories of my grandmother pulling out all the stops during the festive season, as she expertly made jalebis, ladoos, and other luscious delicacies. On Dhanatrayodashi (Dhanteras), I remember how all the women in our house would have the traditional oil bath after anointing themselves with the fragrant, turmeric and sandal wood paste. What was striking about this age-old ritual was it was done in the evening at sun down, after which we would don our festive clothes, create beautiful rangolis on the verandah, before visiting neighbors and friends to exchange sweets. This rich tapestry of events from childhood have been deeply etched in my memory, and includes this heirloom recipe that I inherited from my grandmother, who was an absolutely amazing cook!
All the pleasure, none of the guilt! This is a recipe for kheer, which is a kind of pudding made with whole milk and sugar in which some kind of a grain such as vermicelli is slow cooked until the milk reduces to the consistency of a rich and creamy pudding. I have created a heart-healthy version using a whole grain (bulgur), reduced fat milk and by reducing the sugar content from the traditional version by approximately a third. And yet it has the same creamy texture and rich mouth-feel that is reminiscent of the traditional version. So go ahead-dig in and enjoy! A very Happy Diwali and Happy and Healthy New Year to you all!