recipes for

here's a small collection of


sweet bites

Diwali is synonymous with joy, lights, and of course, a variety of delicious foods. The festival brings a plethora of sweet and savory treats that are as diverse and vibrant as the festival itself. These treats are not just about indulgence but are also embedded with cultural significance and tradition, reflecting the spirit of the festival. The following is a very small sampling of sweet treat recipes that can be a part of your feasting and celebrations.

Diwali Sweet Treats A harmonious mix of sweet and savory, creamy and crunchy, leaving an imprint of unforgettable flavors
Shahi Tukda
recipe + photo by: Ramyaa Narayanan

Shahi Tukda is a dessert made with ghee fried bread, thickened sweetened milk, and sugary syrup. Topped with saffron and nuts this is a royal treat.

Date + Nut Squares
recipe + photo by: Shibi Thomas

These Dates and Nut Squares studded with beautiful rose petals are not only eye catching sweet treats, but are also a delicious and healthy, refined sugar free treat that has a prefect note of cardamom flavor.

Palkova - Cinnamon-Flavored Milk Cakes
recipe + photo by: Ramyaa Narayanan

Palkova (aka Milk Cakes) are a delicious traditional South Indian sweet that is easy to prepare with just a few ingredients. It has a sticky texture and is so rich in taste. The cinnamon adds a warm and sweet flavor to this gooey delicious treat.

Almond Ricotta Fudge (Almond Burfi)
recipe + photo by: Shibi Thomas

Almond Ricotta Fudge/ Almond Burfi is a rich sweet treat with 2 layers. This soft and delicious fudge has a bottom white layer flavored with cardamom and the top layer has the yellow hue and pleasant flavor from saffron. It is a perfect treat for any celebration.

Mango Shrikhand
recipe + photo by: Jayalakshmi Rangarajan

Mango Shrikhand is a popular Indian dessert made with Greek Yogurt, and fresh mango pulp. The smooth, creamy, delectable texture makes it a perfect after meal dessert. It’s an easy, no cook recipe, that comes together in no time. Great for parties, can be made well ahead and stored.

No matter where or how the holiday is observed, the mission remains the same: to drive away darkness. The reward is spiritual abundance and enlightenment, as well as strengthened ties within the family and the community.

savoring the festival of lights


let there be light

Diwali is a five-day national observance in India that begins on Purnima, the 15th day of Kartik, the holiest month of the Hindu lunar calendar. It coincides with the full moon and marks the start of the Hindu new year, falling this year on the Gregorian calendar on Sunday, November 12th.

Also known as the Festival of Lights, Diwali celebrates the proverbial triumph of light over darkness, of good over evil. Homes are thoroughly cleansed, and windows are left open to encourage Lakshmi, consort to Vishnu and the Hindu goddess of wealth and good fortune, to enter. To guide her way, the home is illuminated on the outside with rows of clay lamps called diyas. In fact, the word diwali translates from Sanskrit to “row of lights.” The holiday is also sometimes called Deepavali, a marriage of the words deepa (oil lamp) and avali (row). Celebrants honor the arrival of the goddess with rangoli -- elaborate and brightly colored mosaic patterns created on the floor with colored sand, rice and flower petals. In villages, towns and cities, fireworks light up the sky.

Diwali around the world

Weeks or even months go into the preparation and planning for the festivities. Although it is a Hindu holiday, it is also celebrated by other religions, such as Sikhism and Jainism. Likewise, Diwali is not just a national holiday in India, but also in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar, Guyana, Fiji, Mauritius, Jamaica and Trinidad. As such, there are variations between groups in terms of mythology. In Jainism, for instance, Diwali celebrates the rise of Lord Mahavira to nirvana; in Buddhism, it marks the day Emperor Ashoka converted to Buddhism. Diwali is also observed in Sufism, a mystical practice closely aligned with Islam.

There are regional differences in the interpretation of origin of Diwali within India as well. In the north, Diwali commemorates the victory of King Rama over Ravana, while in southern India it celebrates the fall of Narakasura, the demon bent on world domination and destruction ultimately defeated by Lord Krishna. No matter where or how the holiday is observed, the mission remains the same: to drive away darkness. The reward is spiritual abundance and enlightenment, as well as strengthened ties within the family and the community.

the five days of Diwali

The cleansing and renovation of homes (and businesses) and the lighting of the lamps commences on Dhanteras, the first day of Diwali. The afternoon is spent shopping for kitchen utensils, tools or gold and silver jewelry to invite and spread wealth, with time reserved for prayer and offerings. On the following day, Naraka Chaturdashi, it is customary to bathe before sunrise and don new clothes to symbolize the purification of the soul, followed by gathering at the temple. At this time, some may light candles to invoke the blessings of the goddess Kali. This is also the time that homes and shops are decorated with lanterns and rigolis.

The third day, Lakshmi Pujan, is the day of Diwali, the main event, if you will. Families gather to feast, offerings are made to the goddess of wealth, and the night sky is set ablaze with fireworks. The fourth day, Annakut, marks the first day of the Hindu new year. Friends and family may visit to exchange gifts, although, traditionally, the day celebrates Krishna, the god of protection, and the bond between husband and wife. On day five, Bhai Duj, brothers and sisters honor each other. He will travel to her bearing gifts; she will hand feed him sweets and mark his “third eye” with tilak (typically made from ash or turmeric paste) to indicate his spiritual lineage (three lines for a follower of Shiva, two for Vishnu, or one for Devi).

Diwali celebrations include preparation and sharing of sweet and savory finger foods and confections collectively known as mithai.

food and festivities


mad for mithai

If sweet treats are your thing, Diwali is for you. In contrast to other Hindu and Dharmic holy days that require periods of fasting, Diwali is all about the purchase, preparation and sharing of sweet and savory finger foods and confections collectively known as mithai. Traditional confections include halwa, a pudding-like dish that originates from ancient Persia (and means “sweet” in Arabic) that consists of semolina (or roasted lentils, chickpeas, pumpkin, carrot or other vegetable), ghee, coconut sugar (or jaggerty, a type of cane sugar that retains molasses crystals), raisins or figs, unsalted nuts (almonds, pistachios, cashews) and spices, typically cardamom, nutmeg and, sometimes, saffron. The mixture is cooked down in water or a combination of water and milk. Some recipes call for the addition of rose water.

Other sweet delights include laddu, which contains most of the same ingredients as halwa but is a thicker dough rolled into bite-sized balls. Similarly, gulab jamun is prepared with khoya (a type of milk powder), sugar, rose water and powdered cardamom, and resembles donut holes. Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing in English, another Persian delicacy called barfi (also seen as burfi), which means “snowy” in Hindu, is another holiday favorite made from condensed milk, pistachios, cardamom and coconut sugar (or jaggerty) and is very similar to fudge in texture and consistency.

the main menu

Diwali is a time for families to feast together, especially on the third day. While everyone looks forward to dessert, the main meal is likely to consist of some kind of curry dish, such as chana masala made with chickpeas, tomatoes, ginger, red chili pepper, turmeric, garam masala, coriander and cumin, or a vegetable Jalfrezi (stir fry) with similar seasonings and a variety of assorted vegetables. A popular Indian potato dish called panchphoran aloo combines peeled, diced potatoes pan-fried with turmeric, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, nigella seeds and smoky black cardamom seeds. The last ingredient, known in Indian cuisine as badi elaichi, lends an earthy, pungent flavor to many signature dishes and, although it is most often used in savory dishes, its intensity is balanced by sweet and spicy ingredients, such as cinnamon or red chili pepper. It is commonly found in curries, dals, koftas and rice biryani.

Another favorite served as a party snack or appetizer at the table is classic gujiya. This dumpling-like finger food is made from a soft dough of flour and water with a bit of ghee worked in, then rolled and stuffed with chopped raisins and dry roasted nuts and fried in hot ghee until golden. It is usually served with rabri, a sweet, creamy sauce made from condensed milk and flavored with saffron and cardamom.

a collection of

Authentic Indian cuisine is noted for featuring an abundance of vegetables, rice, paneer (a type of cheese) and a variety of bold flavors from exotic herbs and spices. The following is a sampling of botanicals that may be new to you, but that are very much worth getting to know. Have a happy, safe and prosperous Diwali!

(Tej Patta)
whole, various sizes
Commonly used in Indian and South Asian cuisines. It has a distinctive fragrance and a warm, slightly sweet flavor. NOT to be confused with bay laurel bay leaves.
1.5 oz - REFILL $4
black pods
whole pods
Black cardamom is robust, smoky and slightly bitter, with a strong, slightly sweet aftertaste. It is is commonly used in Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine.
1 oz - JAR$8
1 oz - REFILL$7
4 oz - REFILL$19
(Black Cumin)
Nigella seeds are tiny, black and have a unique, nutty flavor and a savory taste that adds depth and complexity to many dishes.
2 oz - JAR$5
2 oz - REFILL$4
8 oz - REFILL$13
bark pieces, various sizes
Cinnamon bark is usually used whole in cooking to infuse its strong, sweet flavor and aroma into dishes and is commonly used in traditional Southeast Asian cuisines.
3 oz - REFILL $3
super negin grade
.035 oz - REFILL$12
.176 oz - REFILL$55
.035 oz - REFILL $12
green pods
whole pods
Aromatic and flavorful, whole green cardamom pods can be lightly crushed to further enhance flavor in cooking.
1.3 oz - JAR$10
1.3 oz - REFILL$9
6 oz - REFILL$24
Ground cassia cinnamon's spicy, warm flavor and aroma star in many homespun fall and winter recipes. Cassia is dominant variety of cinnamon in America.
2 oz - JAR$8
2 oz - REFILL$7
8 oz - REFILL$24
whole petals
Dried rose petals have a full sweet-scented aroma. Simple syrup or other infusions with these rose petals will yield a delicate fruity taste and a heady floral bouquet; an aromatic addition to every thing from baked confections to boozy beverages.
0.2 oz - JAR$3
0.2 oz - REFILL$2
1.2 oz - REFILL$6

a bit about those that are less familar

Indian Bay Leaf – Known as Tej Patta (“pungent leaf”) and not to be confused with European Bay Laurel, Indian Bay leaf is the leaf from the cinnamon tree and channels the combined flavors of cloves and cinnamon. Use in curries, garam masalas, biryanis and pulaos.

Black Cardamom Pods – Adds sharp, smoky flavor to savory dishes, such as dahls, curries, baharats and biryanis. It pairs especially well with cinnamon, black pepper, cumin and star anise.

Nigella Seeds - Also known as Black Cumin, Nigella seeds have a nutty character with a flavor profile reminiscent of onion, oregano and black pepper combined. Try adding them to braised or roasted vegetables (especially potato dishes), pilafs, biryanis and dishes with eggs or paneer.

Cinnamon Bark – This is the outer bark of the cinnamon tree, not the quills commonly ground for use in baked goods. Although mildly sweet with a spicy “red hot” flavor, the bark is more bitter in taste with a woody finish. Use this spice to season rice dishes, curries, soups, stews and baked goods.