In search of lost food: Exquisite Diwali recipes

However, the festival is undoubtedly intimate and personal in the current work culture-bound, post-pandemic world
Representative image
Representative image

The existence of these Diwali recipes is known, but the methods, or the ability to make them authentic, appear to have been lost.  CE dwells in the realm of occasionally made nostalgic delicacies that are — at risk of dying out. 

Diwali is a festival of lights, this has been the festival’s tagline for ages, but we have been missing something traditional about the festival — the food! Our recipes during the celebration were always very creative and delicious. However, the festival is undoubtedly intimate and personal in the current work culture-bound, post-pandemic world. Thanks to the fast-paced life with (food/grocery delivery apps) it has swallowed the traditional cookery approach. Some of us may find we were a little enthusiastic in our traditional ingredient buying habits and now purchase ready-made products which are mass-produced and are not as good. Chefs from the city recall the nostalgia as they converse with CE about lost recipes.   

Chef Satya, the Executive Chef at Novotel Hyderabad Convention Centre, talks about the missing traditional sweets in the celebrations these days. Chef says he has noticed a difference between South India and North India since childhood. In the country’s Northern states, a massive list of home foods we know as farsan snacks and a sweet dish called phirni are a part of the festivities. “In the south, we have a wide range of dishes, such as penilu, murku and odappa, which were, until a few years ago, part and parcel of the celebrations,” says chef Satya. Adding, “I have noticed that besan ka chekki, once very popular, is something that has gone extinct. At the same time, besan ka laddoo is still there but is not very common. Most sweets have been taken over by other fancy sweets which are ready-made.”  

Sridevi Jasti, better known as a nutritionist and a vegan food expert, talks about how ready-made foods have taken over traditional foods. She says, “I grew up in a South Indian family; Diwali was not a festival without arisalu, boorelu and bobatlu. Nowadays, in cities like Hyderabad, we have people from around the country and a lot of other sweets, which is good. Still, in some places, we go out of it and have chocolates and non-traditional foods like muffins, cakes, souffles, and puddings, mixed with Indian sweets and disorienting Diwali.”    

These days, she says: Mass-producing businesses with homemade sweets tags don’t offer the authenticity as grandma’s recipes. Most companies do not care about our health. “I remember when my grandmother used to soak the rice and dry it to make a powder to make arisalu. It was not made out of ready-made ingredients, and the taste differs. Instead of jaggery, sugar is used, so, unfortunately, we are not getting traditional Diwali sweets and what we get now is not good for you. It is best to go to our old home recipes and make them,” she adds.

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