Every year, around this time, I close my eyes. And see this.
A large picture of Lord Hanuman, carrying sumeru parbat, is mounted on the wall. Below the framed photo is a grand wooden door, decorated with garlands of fresh flowers and a recently bought toran – a wall hanging – made of mango leaves and Lord Ganesh at its center. At the door edges, a string of colorful LED lights, blinking in rhythm, are pinned carefully. On either sides of the entrance, stood large banana trees to welcome you. There is shubh labh written in vermillion on either side of the walls attached to the main door – a common notation signifying good luck, abundance and prosperity. On the floor, there are rows of lit earthen lamps sitting along a meticulously drawn rangoli depicting a festive kalash.
And as soon as I step inside, I find a stack of mithai boxes and gifts arranged on the side table next to the divan. Before I can comprehend, I am instantly hit by a festive aroma – a combination of home made food including puri, halwa, gobhi sabji and dahi vade, and incense sticks, camphor, firecrackers, and mustard oil lit diyas.
I walk towards the mandir and find flowers, fruits, kheel, diya, batti, pappad, God Ganesh and Goddess Lakshmi scrupulously arranged on the aasan and mummy, papa and sisters sitting crossed leg in new clothes – and doing aarti. And then I scream with joy, “I am home. I am home on Diwali!”
It has been quite a while since I celebrated my last Diwali at home. And every year, around this time, I dig up my last set of memories (and photographs) of Diwali celebration back at home, and attempt to replicate those memories (and of course, build new ones) by living it again, by celebrating it in a similar style but in my new home, my new world. It is amazing how much comfort one gets in treading old known roads – by doing what has proven to provide good fun and memories. And this year around, since I have missed home much more than usual, I cooked up a storm, just to feel festive. I could only find solace and that Diwali waali feeling in Diwali specials such as dahi vade, makhana kheer, dum aloo and besan laddu.
Dahi vade or Dahi bhalle have been Diwali specials for us for time immemorial. The recipe I am sharing is from my mummy who learnt in from her mummy, my grandmother and that makes it even more special. Dahi vade made with moong and urad lentils paste, especially in north, are so soft that they immediately melt in mouth. The vadas are deep fried and then hung in thick yogurt and chilled before being served with a mix of tamarind and coriander chutney – making it a perfect (non-sweet) snack for an occasion such as Diwali.
Hope you get a chance to make some of your own and enjoy Diwali. Wish you all a prosperous festive season.
- Soaking Time: 2 hr minimum
- Cooking Time: 30 min
- Recipe Level: Medium
- Serves many
- Source: Mummy
- Cuisine: Indian
- 1 cup yellow moong daal lentils
- 0.5 cups of white urad daal lentils
- 1 small portion of raw ginger
- 2-3 green chilly
- 2 cups cooking oil for deep frying
- 2 cups thick curd or yogurt
- 2 tsp white salt
- 1 tsp red chilly powder
- 1 tsp chat masala
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 2 -3 strands of coriander or cilantro leaves
- Soak yellow moong and white urad daal lentils for atleast 2 hours in water. I generally allow it to soak overnight.
- After soaking, remove water from lentils, and grind in a food processor with a piece of raw ginger and green chillies.
- Add only 2 spoons of water to facilitate grinding, in order to obtain a thick paste.
- On a stove, place a thick bottomed kadhai or pan, and add cooking oil for deep frying. Let it become hot.
- When paste of thick consistency is ready, add 1 tsp of salt to paste and whip the paste atleast 5-7 times to make it fluffy.
- When oil is hot and smoking, wet your hands, scoop a portion of paste in your forefingers and drop the portion in hot oil.
- The hot deep fried paste will turn into a vada. Adjust the size of the portion depending on the size of desired vada. Let it turn golden brown before sieving it out from the oil pan.
- Similarly make 25-30 vadas from the leftover paste.
- Place vadas into a big bowl of water.
- Let them soak for atleast 10-15 min in water.
- Fetch them out of water and flatten them between your palm, to completely get rid of the absorbed water in the vadas.
- In the meantime, slightly thin a yogurt if really thick.
- Place the flattened and semi-oil free vada in a serving plate. Add good portions of yogurt on top of the vadas.
- Sprinkle salt, chilly powder, chat masala on the yogurt.
- Garnish with cilantro. Serve fresh.
- Completely removed water from soaked lentils before turning into paste to ensure paste is thick. Use couple of spoons of water to facilitate mixing in processor.
- If desired, you may choose to add small pieces of cashews is paste before frying, for added taste
- To make vadas fluffy, whip the paste using spatula or egg beater using hand
- Ensure oil is hot enough, by using a tiny portion of paste and letting it drop in oil. If the tiny portion immediately rises to surface, oil is hot enough to make vadas.
- Soak deep fried vadas in water twice to get ride of as much oil as possible.
- You may refrigerate vadas as long as possible. Add yogurt and spices to vada just before serving for fresh taste.
- You may use black salt and agra chat masala instead of white salt and fruit chat masala for added taste.