No Diwali celebration is complete without lights, loved ones and of course, delicious food.
Indian sweets and desserts called mithai are undoubtably the stars of the show, but there’s plenty of savoury delights to be enjoyed, too.
We asked some top chefs and restauranteurs to share their favourite recipes for the festival. Some are traditional, some are new twists on classic flavours, but all are guaranteed to put a smile on the faces of family and friends.
If you’ve never had the pleasure, Barfis are milk-based mithai. Traditionally, they’re made at home and shared with loved ones throughout Diwali. The following recipe has been designed by Jordan Moore, senior recipe developer at Gousto.
Ingredients (serves 8-10)
397g condensed milk
150g cashews or ground almonds
150g desiccated coconut
½ tsp ground cardamom
1. Line your baking tin with greaseproof paper
2. If you’re using cashews, add them to a food processor and grind to a fine powder.
3. Add the ground nuts, coconut, cardamom and condensed milk to a medium saucepan and cook for 5-7 minutes — stirring until thick and smooth
3. Spread the mix evenly onto your lined baking tray. Leave to cool for an hour before cutting into squares
Top tip: Beautify your Barfi with edible silver leaf for extra va va voom.
Rum Gulab Jamun
This recipe has been created by Arbinder Singh Dugal, who you may know from MasterChef The Professionals. The recipe is derived from Gulab Jamun, a classic Indian dessert often enjoyed during Diwali, typically made from reduced milk called khoya, which is shaped into miniature doughnuts.
Ingredients (serves 4-6)
For the Gulab Jamun
8g milk powder
15g caster sugar
15g ghee/clarified butter
Vegetable oil for deep frying
For the sugar syrup
200g caster sugar
Pinch of saffron
1/2 cup rum
2 crushed green cardamom
For the garnish
10 peeled and slice pistachios
5 sliced almonds
1. In a small pan heat ghee, milk, milk powder and 2 tbsp sugar on a medium flame. Mix well and bring the milk to a boil.
2. In a separate pan, add sooji/semolina and roast it for 2-3 minutes on a low flame. After this, add the hot milk to sooji/semolina until all the milk is absorbed. Turn the heat to a medium flame and cook it until the mixture forms a lump.
3. Switch off the flame and allow the mixture to cool slightly. After a few minutes, transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
4. Grease your hands with ghee and knead the mixture for at least 2 minutes or until the dough is smooth and soft.
5. Roll the small dough balls (jamuns) and set aside.
6. Heat the oil on a medium flame and when it is moderately hot, turn slightly down and fry the jamuns, stirring constantly and slowly until it is lightly browned on all sides.
7. In another pan, add all of the sugar syrup ingredients and bring it to boil on a low flame until it is slightly sticky. Keep it warm, but don’t let it cool completely.
8. When the jamuns are lightly browned on all sides, transfer them onto a plate and let them cool down for 2 minutes – don’t let them cool down for longer otherwise they won’t absorb the syrup flavour! After 2 minutes, drop them into the warm sugar syrup with dark rum. Allow them to soak in the sugar syrup and rest for 2 hours.
9. After 2 hours, the Gulab Jamun will have doubled in size. Garnish with sliced nuts like pistachio or almonds for a nice touch.
Kala Channa Masala
This hearty kala channa masala recipe has been created by award-winning chef and author Nitisha Patel. It’s a veggie delight centred on black chickpeas and tomato and is guaranteed to warm your guests.
Ingredients (serves 8)
6 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cinnamon stick of cassia bark
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp fenugreek seeds
2 tsp grated/ pureed ginger
2 tsp grated/ pureed garlic
8-10 fresh washed curry leaves
2 finely diced brown onions
1 tsp salt
1 green chilli finely sliced
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp paprika powder
1 tbsp tomato puree
5 fresh chopped tomatoes (with core removed)
500g/2 drained cans of tinned black chickpeas
2 tsp palm sugar/ jaggery
½ tsp garam masala
2 tbsp fresh chopped coriander
Juice of half of a fresh lemon
1. In a thick bottom pan, heat the oil and add the cloves and cinnamon stick, allow the oil to become infused with warm aromatic notes from the spices
2. Next add in the mustard seeds and allow them to sizzle in the pan. When the mustard seeds have popped, add in the cumin and fenugreek seeds and also allow them to sizzle and crackle. You know when the seeds are ready when they start popping and releasing their aromatic oils
3. Once all of the spices have sizzled, add in the fresh ginger and garlic and stir in the hot oil for 10 seconds, then add in the fresh curry leaves. Careful as they will splutter in the hot oil.
4. Add in the diced onion and fry until soft and browned, stirring often. For this dish in particular, you want to have the onions golden brown. This will take a good 20-25 minutes.
5. Next add in the sliced green chilli, mix in well with the onions and fry for 1 minute.
6. Once the fresh spices have been cooked out, it is time to go in with the powdered spices and add depth to the sauce. Add the turmeric, cumin, coriander and paprika to the pan and mix well. It is important to cook out spices because if they are left raw, your curry will have a harsh flavour as well as a powdery/grainy sauce.
7. The powdered spices will dry out your pan, so to stop your pan from burning, add a splash of water to keep the pan moist, this will also help the spices the cook out, at this stage add approximately 100ml.
8. Once your spices are cooked, add in the tomato puree and mix well. Tomato puree is generally quite concentrated and can be quite sharp if not cooked out properly so make sure you mix it in well with your onions and spices.
9. Next add in the chopped tomatoes, stir well, reduce the heat to a medium flame and put a lid on your pan to allow the tomatoes to cook quicker. You can use tinned tomatoes if you prefer too.
10. You will know when the tomatoes are ready because the flesh will start to melt and the whole mix will come together nicely as a sauce. The tomatoes should take a good 12-15 minutes in the pan.
11. Once the tomatoes have all softened add in the drained chickpeas, mix in well, pour in the remaining water and sugar, place on the lid and allow to simmer on medium heat for 5 minutes.
10. The Masala should be almost ready now, to add 1 final flavour dimensions to the flavour of this curry, add in the garam masala and lemon juice.
Check the taste and consistency of the sauce, if you are happy with the seasoning; saltiness and sweetness, and the looseness of the sauce, add the coriander for a citrusy freshness. Remove from the heat and serve with either fresh naan bread or plain boiled basmati rice.
Diwali Kali Puja Firecracker Chicken Wings
For something a bit different, we love these firecracker chicken wings created by chef Vivek Singh from The Cinnamon Collection. They can be prepared in advanced and fried before serving.
Ingredients (serves 4-6)
900g chicken wings, skin on
vegetable oil, for deep frying
For the marinade
2 teaspoons garlic paste
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ teaspoons red chilli powder
1 teaspoon sugar
4 tablespoons malt vinegar
½ teaspoon black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
1 teaspoon Sichuan pepper (optional)
1 green chilli, finely chopped
1 tablespoon freshly chopped coriander, plus extra for garnishing
50g rice flour
For the dipping sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable or corn oil
½ star anise
1 banana shallot, finely chopped
50g pineapple, diced into 5mm cubes
5mm piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
5 tablespoons tomato ketchup
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
juice of ½ lime
For the green chilli mayo
4 green chillies, chopped
20g coriander, finely chopped
120ml vegetable oil
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon mustard
Pinch of salt
Juice of 1 lemon
1. Mix together all the ingredients for the marinade except the rice flour and cornflour and rub the mixture over the chicken wings. Place in the fridge to marinate for 4 hours (or if possible overnight).
2. In the meantime, make the dipping sauce. Heat the oil in a pan, add the star anise and stir for 30 seconds, then add the shallot and sweat over a high heat for 2–3 minutes, stirring continuously. Add the pineapple and continue cooking over a high heat for another 2 minutes until the pineapple is caramelised at the edges and is beginning to soften.
3. Reduce the heat, add the ginger, tomato ketchup, soy sauce, sugar and 120ml of water and bring to the boil. Cook for 1 minute or two until the sauce turns glossy, check the seasoning and remove from the heat. Add the lime juice, cool and set aside.
4. To make the green chilli mayo, blend the chillies and coriander with the oil in a blender until fine.
5. Whisk together the egg yolk and mustard, then make an emulsion by adding the blended chilli – coriander oil a little at a time, until all the oil is used. Season with salt and lemon juice and set aside.
6. When the chicken has been marinated, drain the excess liquid that has come out of the chicken.
7. Mix together the rice flour and cornflour, then dredge the chicken wings in the flour a few at a time, so the chicken wings are dry.
8. Heat the oil to 180°C and fry the chicken for 6–7 minutes in small batches until cooked through and crisp. Take care not to crowd the oil with too many wings at the same time as the coating comes off and the wings won’t be as crisp.
9. Drain on kitchen paper for 5 minutes, then sprinkle over a little chopped coriander. Serve accompanied with the dipping sauce and the green chilli mayo.
Paneer aur Mirch Ka Salan
This traditional Hyderabadi dish comes from chef Dayashankar Sharma at Heritage Dulwich. He tells us it’s an “interesting, colourful and very delicious combination of flavours which showcase some lesser-known aspects of Indian cuisine.”
Ingredients (serves 2)
50g melon seeds
1 plum tomato
40g ginger paste
50g garlic paste
1 tbsp tamarind paste
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp turmeric
½ tbsp coriander
3 curry leaves
10g jaggery, soaked
For the marinade
½ tbsp ginger paste
½ tbsp garlic paste
Salt (to taste)
1 tbsp Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp mixed pickle
1 tbsp mango chutney
25g grated paneer
1. Soak the melon seeds and once soft, blend to fine paste.
2. Heat oil in a pot when hot add sliced onion cook till golden brown then mix in the ginger and garlic pastes, cook for 2 minutes then add the ground spices and plum tomato, cooking for a further 10 minutes. Add the melon paste and cook for another 5 minutes, then blend the sauce until smooth and set aside.
3. To finish, heat oil in a pan and when hot add mustard seeds and curry leaves until they are just crackling and aromatic, then mix into the sauce along with the tamarind and jaggery.
1. Cut the paneer into a square and cut in the centre to make a pocket for the filling.
2. In a bowl, mix together the pickle, mango chutney, salt, grated paneer and stuff the paneer with the mixture
3. For the marinade, mix Greek yoghurt, chilli powder, salt, ginger and garlic paste and completely cover the stuffed paneer for at least an hour.
4. Heat the oven to 180°C and cook the marinated paneer for four minutes on each side.
5. Serve the paneer with the sauce, and rice or naan. Top with pickled green chillies for a final garnish.
Tellicherry Cauliflower with a Fried Surprise
Michelin star chef Rohit Ghai has teamed up with Tesco to provide some Diwali recipes, and this cauliflower recipe is one of his personal favourites.
“You can make different variations of the recipe, as you can swap out the cauliflower for other vegetables or meat,” he explains.
Ingredients (serves 2)
For the cauliflower
1 large cauliflower
1l vegetable oil
For the marinade
120 ml Buttermilk
1 tsp coarse Tellicherry black pepper
1 tsp chopped green chilli
2 tbsp chopped ginger
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
25ml apple cider vinegar
Few fried curry leaves
2 tbsp chopped curry leaves
150g plain flour
1. Start by prepping the cauliflower. Make sure to wash it under cold water and once dried, dice into bite-size florets.
2. Next, grab a large bowl and combine all the marinade ingredients (except the flour) with the cauliflower, ensuring all pieces are evenly coated by the marinade.
3. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave it in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours. This will allow your cauliflower to absorb the flavours of the marinade and make it more flavoursome. The longer you leave it the better, I like to do my own for up to several hours.
4. Plug in your deep fat fryer and set it to 170° (or grab a deep pan if you don’t have a fryer), then take your cauliflower florets out of the fridge and evenly coat them in flour. Once your fryer is ready, slowly and gently start adding in in the florets and fry until golden.
5. The temperature might drop once the cauliflower is in and heats the oil, this is not a problem, just make sure you maintain the heat around 170°.
6. Deep fry the cauliflower for 6-8 minutes on each side (or until deep golden). Once you switch off the fryer, leave the cauliflower in for a couple of minutes to ensure the batter stays intact.
7. Gently take out the pieces and place them on a wire rack (with paper towels underneath) to drain the oil, then sprinkle with salt to draw out the last bit of moisture.
8. Serve piping hot. Garnish with fried curry leaves and a side of tomato chutney.