Days are passing by too fast!
Well, that is an understatement YEARS are passing by - I remember last Diwali was just a few months ago and one fine day I wake up to realise that the next one is here already!
I refrain generally from commenting on religious sentiments however today I recounted an instance couple of years ago which made me think. It was the last day of work before the Diwali holidays and in one of the calls to a non - Hindu colleague I wished him Happy Diwali. (In India, you wish everyone greetings of every festival. We are country of many religions, cultures and traditions yet there is a unity in the way of our festivities.) His next comment took me aback - do you celebrate Diwali - are you not a Christian? I only expected a Happy Diwali in return and now I am supposed to respond to his question! I kept it simple - I told him I am an Indian. It did not stop there - he went on to explain why as a Christian I should not celebrate Diwali! I could take no more of it - I explained to him what Diwali meant to me and why I would enjoy celebrating it and my religion has got nothing to do with it. That was the end of it and I made sure to never strike up a conversation as similar with him.
Diwali for me may not be of religious significance but more of ideological, familial and aesthetical! Diwali I was taught at school symbolises the victory of light over darkness or good over evil. I completely believe in that ideology and I love the lamps and lights lit up that dispel the darkness not just around but within us to give way for the light. Like any other festivity, it brings together families and friends who forget their worries and come together to celebrate. Aesthetically, do I even need to comment - the cleaned and decorated houses, lights, rangoli and plate loads of goodies!! I love the Diwali season - back at home we go out on drives to see the beautifully lit houses and even in Dubai last year we went for a walk and saw quite a bit of decoration and fireworks. That makes my heart joyful and that is Diwali for me.
Over to my recipe - Kashi Halwa/Ash Gourd Halwa/Kushmanda Halwa which I thought was a Mangalore/ Udupi favorite cuisine but internet proved me wrong it is equally popular in Tamil Nadu as well.
(Serves - 2)
- Ash gourd - 2 cups ( peeled, de-seeded and grated)
- Sugar - 1 cup
- Ghee - 2 tbsp
- Turmeric - 2 pinches
- Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp
- Cashewnuts - 6 to 7
- Raisins - 6 to 7
Measure 2 cups of the grated ash gourd. You may need approximately 750 gms of ashgourd for this.
Transfer this to a hard bottomed pan and cook till the water evaporates.
At this stage add the sugar, combine it well and stir until the raw smell of the ash gourd vanishes and the mixture begins to thicken and hold together.
Meanwhile heat ghee in a separate pan and fry the cashews and raisins. Pour this into the halwa mix.
Add cardamom powder and turmeric powder. Stir well until the halwa thickens and leaves the edges as you stir. Switch off the flame when it reaches the consistency.
You may also note -
- Kashi Halwa is not cooked till very dry. It is generally moist - so ensure you switch off the flame at the right time.
- Turmeric powder is added for color, this can be replaced with saffron.