Diwali is one of the most celebrated festivals in India and these celebrations would be incomplete without the presence of festival food. On Diwali, it is common for Indians to gift each other holiday sweets and eat plenty of festive snacks. Diwali food can taste salty and savory or creamy and sweet depending on the item.
Some of the most famous foods eaten on this holiday include karanji (a Maharashtrian fried dumpling made of semolina), samosas (fried pastries with a savory filling), and pakoras (a patty made of fried vegetables such as onions, eggplant, and potatoes).
Sweets are also an essential part of Diwali and are often shared between family and friends. The most popular ones are laddoos (a round sweet made of flour, butter, and sugar) and gulab jamun (a deep-fried sweet made mainly from milk solids).
In this article, we will go over all the delicious treats you may encounter during Diwali 2023 in India.
1. Karanji/ Gujiya
Karanji, also known as gujiya, is a Maharashtrian fried dumpling that is deliciously crispy and sweet. The crispy outside of this dish is made of semolina or flour and is stuffed with a mixture of sweetened milk solids and dried fruits then fried until golden. Karanji are eaten across India during many different holidays but are especially common on Holi and Diwali.
Samosas are fried or baked pastries with a savory filling that includes ingredients such as spiced potatoes, onions, peas, meat, or lentils. These tasty snacks may take different forms including triangles, cones, or half-moon shapes. These little pastries can be eaten as a breakfast item or as appetizers and have a crispy, savory, and spicy taste.
If you are new to Indian food, then these are the perfect introduction as their potato fillings often go well with the western palate.
Pakoras, also called pakoda or bhaji, is a fried snack made with a gram flour batter and ingredients such as onions, eggplant, potatoes, spinach, plantains, paneer, cauliflower, tomatoes, and chili peppers. They are usually served as a snack or appetizer to guests when they visit others' houses on Diwali.
In Indian culture, it is important to offer chai and snacks to all visitors as a sign of hospitality so many families will make pakoras to have on hand for visitors.
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4. Aloo tikki
Aloo tikki are small, fried patties that are made from shredded potatoes and are usually served alongside regional sauces (chutneys) such as mint chutney or tamarind chutney. These tasty snacks look and taste like fried potato hashbrowns and are usually crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
Chivda, also known as Bombay mix, is an Indian snack mix which consists of fried lentils, peanuts, gram flour, corn, vegetable oil, chickpeas, flaked rice, fried onion, and curry leaves. This is a deliciously savory and spicy snack and is flavored with aromatic spices such as coriander and mustard seeds.
Laddoo, also spelled laddu, is a sphere-shaped sweet made of flour, butter, and sugar, with other ingredients that vary by recipe. Some ladoos include chopped nuts or dried raisins. These tasty treats are sweet, creamy, and melt in your mouth.
Halwa, also spelled halva, is a dessert that is often eaten during festivals or religious occasions. There are two types of halwa, one which is flour-based and is slightly gelatinous and often shaped like a bar and one that is nut butter-based which has a crumbly texture and is not pressed into a pastry.
Barfi is a dense milk-based sweet that is made from condensed milk and sugar. They are typically cut into square, diamond, or round shapes and coated with a thin layer of edible metallic leaf called vark. There are many types of barfi including plain, nuts, fruit, and other flavors. The taste of this dessert is sweet and a little crunchy.
9. Gulab Jamun
Gulab Jamun is a deep-fried milk sweet that is made mainly from milk solids. It is traditionally made from Khoya, which is milk that has been reduced to the consistency of a soft dough, but it can also be made with powdered milk. This sweet is a sticky, creamy, and delicious ball that is often served in syrup and garnished with dried nuts.
Kheer or phirni is a pudding made by boiling milk and sugar with rice, broken wheat, tapioca, vermicelli, or sweet corn. The flavor is creamy and sweet and is enhanced with cardamom, raisins, saffron, cashews, pistachios, almonds, or other dry fruits and nuts.
Tips for Travelers About Trying New Food in India
- If you are in India during Diwali, you'll easily find these snacks and sweets sold in street stalls and shops across the country.
- Do not drink the tap water and avoid food items with ice. Water in India is often unclean and consuming it can cause serious stomach upsets.
- Avoid consuming uncooked vegetables or fruits sold at street vendors as they may have been washed and contaminated with dirty water. You should also avoid raw salads and smoothies.
- Eat at street food stalls that look clean or are recommended by your guide or hotel. Famous street stalls often cook cleanly as they don't want to cause stomach upsets for their customers.
- If you don't have much experience with spicy food, its best to eat it in moderation. Indians believe that a good way to settle your stomach after spicy food is to eat yogurt.
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