Tomorrow is Diwali – the Hindu festival of lights. As a child, Diwali was a non-event in our home as my parents chose to celebrate Christmas so that I felt included in all of the festivities at school. I still don’t really celebrate this festival and one of the reasons for this is that I am not partial to the traditional food served on this day as it tends to be very sweet.
Those of you that have tried Indian desserts will know that they are cloying in their sweetness but it is important to understand that they are designed to be eaten in small quantities. Generally in India, sweet dishes are served alongside the main course as Ayurvedic principles give equal importance to each of the six tastes - sweet, sour, salty, pungent (hot), bitter and astringent. It is believed that once ingested these tastes continue to influence our physical and emotional balance; sweet foods promote a sense of contentment and are associated with the emotion of love. As such, on Indian festival days and celebrations it is customary to serve guests a sweet dish before any other food to denote the celebration and ensure that only gracious words, thoughts and actions follow.
As I am more of a cheesecake girl I have not made any effort to learn how to make Indian desserts. However, I know that several of my readers like them and so I am going to spend some time with my favourite auntie in the next few months and try to make a number of different types. In principle this sounds like a simple task however, she does not speak English and I do not speak Gujarati (although I do understand it). Hmmm… maybe our inability to communicate is the reason we get on so well!
Wishing you all a very happy Diwali and a prosperous and healthy new year,