November 8, 2010: This post was featured on FoodBuzz Top 9 today
It's that time of the year again.. when houses, in India, are lit up with gorgeous little oil lamps and people, young and old, dress up in fine, new clothes, a radiant smile and exchange a ton of homemade goodies and simply enjoy each others' company. It's Diwali, the Indian festival of Lights!! It's the symbol of light entering our lives and the triumph of good over evil.
I remember as a kid, this was a much looked forward to time of the year. I got new clothes, a lot of yummy goodies, those my mom made as also those from friends and family. And, then there were the crackers! Being the festival of lights every family literally lights up the sky with gorgeous flares that in every passing year increase in complexity and beauty!
The ritual of the crackers begins many days, even weeks, before the day of Diwali. First, you scout all available choices and exchange notes with friends and classmates. Then, you wheedle your parents into buying that fancy package or yet another of that!
Once the merchandise comes home, mothers take over the care. The crackers need to be stored in a moisture free area, else the gunpowder will just fizzle. So, there are hours and days of sun drying. Of course, most of this comes to naught as it inevitably rains on the day of Diwali. And, I have empirical evidence of that particular weather pattern being agnostic of geography!
The festivities, begin atleast the day before (in my childhood, perhaps earlier now), with some enthusiastic kids testing their goods, building into a crescendo on the day of. As a kid/child, you wake up in the morning, clean up, wear new clothes and then start bursting crackers... from long chains of small ammo to the deafeningly loud "hydrogen bombs". It's interspersed with the eating and merry making but the crackers are the real focal point.
As the dusk falls, the loud is gradually replaced with elegant as the night crackers take over the skies and the grounds. From gorgeous fountains, bursting rockets and a multitude other creations limited only by physics, the sky lights up into an Aurora Borealis!!
As we grew up, the crackers became less and less the attraction of the festival. It became the excuse to get together, eat well and have a whale of fun! Every year, I make a few staple items and maybe something new :). This year, I didn't have a whole lot of time to prepare, so I leave you with this Eggless Banana Cake, some suggestions and a boat load of good wishes! :)
Other Diwali Ideas
Mango Saffron Ice Cream
Eggless Banana Cake
(makes a 5 inch cake)
For the Cake:
1/2 cup flour
3 T apple sauce
2 T milk
4 T melted butter
4 T brown sugar
1 large ripe banana
2 tsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp all spice
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 tsp baking soda
For the Ganache frosting:
2 oz chocolate
2 T milk
Mix all cake ingredients and pour the batter into a five inch cake pan. Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes until cake is done. Cool in pan for five minutes, then remove the cake and cool on rack.
Meanwhile, make the ganache by microwaving the chocolate in milk for 30 seconds. Stir to get a shiny, smooth mixture. Set aside to cool. Spread the ganache in a thick layer once the cake has cooled down completely.