Diwali 2021: 8 Food Traditions Celebrated In Different Parts Of India
Image Credit: From kheel batashe to chirote, there are a host of Diwali traditions in India that add to the festivity.

When Lord Ram returned to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile, the city was lit up with diyas and the worshippers hailed to welcome their idol back home. That’s the legend associated with the festival of Diwali and depicted through ram leelas that are performed in several parts of the country. Such is the pomp and show of this festival. In another region of India, poha or fov is a significant Goan tradition wherein the Konkani region celebrates Diwali by preparing not just one but five different types of beaten rice recipes. 

My Diwali tradition is quite simple. Light up the house a few days prior to Diwali, exchange gifts and relish sweets, make rangoli in the morning and finally light diyas after ardaas in the evening. That pretty much sums up my day each year. Mithais or sweets are a core component of celebration at our house, where pinnis and barfis are popped into the mouth after every meal (and sometimes in between meals too). However, I had never given this a thought that a particular dish or food could actually be a reflection of one’s culture but the cultural diversity has been placed on the festive plate, it seems. 

Here are some of the best food traditions that are practiced on Diwali in different states of the Indian sub-continent. 

1.  Chirote From Karnataka 

Best savoured during Diwali, chirote is a deep-fried dessert that is coated with powdered sugar and relished across the South Indian states of Karnataka as well as Telangana, where it is often referred to as Pheni. The flaky dessert gets its crunch from the rich filling of dry fruits, encompassed in its circular layers. Interestingly, the sweet dish is also a Maharashtrian favourite, prepared as a home-made dessert. 

2.  Chironji Ki Barfi From Madhya Pradesh 

The origins of this sweet can be traced back to a small region called Sagar in Madhya Pradesh and since then it has been a Diwali special in the state. Also known as sunflower seeds, chironji is infused with the essence of almonds and widely used across Indian desserts. The square-shaped sweet dish is brown in colour and has a crumbly texture. Did you know that chironji is alternatively used as a cooking spice too? Try this Chironji ki dal then. 

3.  Mawa Kachori From Rajasthan 

Undoubtedly, one of the best creations of converting a sweet into savoury, this mawa kachori will leave you spellbound. If you have a sweet tooth, then this Rajasthani festive kachori is enough to satiate your cravings this season. The golden-brown kachoris are deep-fried and dipped in oodles of sugar syrup. The dry fruits and kewra garnish firmly sticks to the hot and juicy kachoris, ready to be munched on. 

4.  Mohanthal From Gujarat

At first, you might confuse Mohanthal for just an ordinary barfi because of its shape. However, when you take one bite you realise that there is much more to this Gujarati dessert. A rich combination of cream, milk, ghee and gram flour, the fudgy texture of this sweet dish may remind of brownies but a desi version. Once it is set on a tray, dry fruits are sprinkled on it and then it is cut into cubes and cooled down. This one is easy to make and requires minimum ingredients so that you can fit in a Diwali dessert last minute. 

5.  Thenkuzhal From Tamil Nadu 

Amidst the range of sweet meats that people relish on Diwali, Thenkuzhal is a refreshing and crunchy break for the sugar rush. This deep-fried snack is a popular Diwali item in Tamilian households. Literally meaning tubes of honey, the entangled tubes of this savoury are fun to munch on during Diwali and even otherwise. 

6.  Rasabali From Odisha 

The eastern states of the country like Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha tend to be overlooked and not given much attention when it comes to food and culture, especially the latter two. This happens despite the fact that they are culturally brimming with age-old traditions and practices. One such iconic tradition is eating Rasabali on Diwali. The heavenly paneer (cottage-cheese) balls are deep-fried till they attain a dark brown hue and then dipped in a bowl of thickened milk which is flavoured with turmeric and saffron. Since it seems very similar to Rasmalai, here is a quick recipe you can try. 

7.  Dum Ka Suran From Central India 

A winter favourite across Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, Maharashtra and other warmer states, suran is widely eaten on Diwali as a cultural tradition. Also known as elephant yam, or simply yam, the dish is prepared on this festive occasion with the belief that Goddess Lakshmi resides in this vegetable and eating it will bring prosperity. 

8.  Chhodo Shaak From West Bengal 

A special savoury preparation made from 14 different green leafy vegetables, this dish is not only nutritious but also holds a special cultural significance. The idea of combining several leaves together to make Chhodo Shaak is to dismiss the evil spirits on the day of Kali Puja or Diwali. Here is an authentic Kumro Shaak recipe that you can try. 

With the festive fever gripping the country, it only seems right to explore and adapt to newer customs and traditions that come our way, especially where food is involved!