My absolute favorite time of year is Diwali, the festival of lights. Diwali embodies the theme of the triumph of light over darkness commonly found across cultures. To celebrate this day, sumptuous feasts are prepared with mounds of desserts, homes are brightly decorated, and most importantly, oil lamps and candles are lit to invite joy, prosperity, and love into your home. In many parts of India, Diwali also marks the beginning of the new year.
Two weeks ago I found myself wrapped in the kitchen for endless hours preparing my annual Diwali feast for guests once again but this time in SF not in Chicago. Weary and sleep-deprived from my trip across the country to Boston and back in 24 hours, I began preparing for the dinner minutes after walking in the door from SFO late Friday night. To-do list for the night before dinner: make paneer, cilantro-garlic chutney, and dessert. Done and done.
The next morning groceries were bought and cooking commenced 8 hours in advance of dinner. Around 6:30pm, an hour and half before guests were scheduled to arrive, I received a call from a delivery service- my living room furniture was finally here! I was more than a little worried that my guests would have to sit on the floor, but the good folks at Pottery Barn rose to the occasion. Somehow everything- from the food to the furniture (and even myself)- was in order by 8pm. The guests started to arrive and helped to light candles and pour wine. And one of my dinner guests showed off his amazing camera skills by capturing the beauty of the lights (all photo credit goes to him).
Diwali Dinner Menu 2010
potato and pea samosas
potato and pea samosas
cilantro-garlic chutney and tamarind chutney
dal makhani... lentils simmered with onions, garlic, tomato and cream
chole... chick peas in a spicy tomato gravy
mutter paneer... peas and paneer in a tomato gravy
paneer makhani... paneer in a rich tomato and butter gravy
bangain bharta... eggplant curry
pullav... rice with cumin seeds
kheer... saffron, pistachio, cardammon rice pudding
barfi... coconut, pistachio, cardamom sweet
The food turned out delicious and the wine was excellent. And the company was fabulous (there may have been some Bollywood dancing). Thanks to all for making this special day memorable and for making me feel at home in a new city. Happy Diwali and Sal Mubarak. ♥