Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Yesterday was Diwali, aka as "The Festival of Lights". It is the most important Hindu holiday, celebrated as the Hindu New Year. No matter what strain of Hinduism you practice - Jain, Sikh and even some Buddhists - Diwali is the most important holiday on the calendar. It celebrates different things depending what strain you practice and where you are located - Some say it celebrates the birth of Lakshmi (Hindu Goddess of Wealth, Properity and Luck) while others believe it celebrates Lord Krishna defeating Indra. Click here for more information about Diwali.
It is called The Festival of Lights because lights line the cities where Diwali is celebrated and in homes, candles and diyas are lit in glory to the Gods. Here in America, Diwali was celebrated in many home with candles, diya and incense burning even if we were unable to make it to temple. Prayers are offered as well.
Sweet things are traditionally eaten on Diwali so that hopefully sweet things will occur in our lives in the coming year.
Here is a recipe for Gajar Halwa, which originates from the Indian state of Rajasthan:
500 grams of carrots, peeled and shredded
1 litre of milk
1 cup of sugar
25 grams each of almonds, pistacchios and raisins
4 dried dates
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
a few drops of Rose essence
ghee (clarified butter)
Soak dates in water for 15 minutes. Drain and chop.
Chop nuts and raisins.
Cook carrots and milk together, stirring frequently until the mixture is dry and thick.
Add sugar and continue stirring until the sugar is dissolved and absorbed by the carrot mixture.
Add 4 tablespoons of ghee and fry until the color has turned red.
Mix in essence and cardamom powder.
Serve, garnished with the nuts, dates and raisins.
Recipe taken from Aroona Reejhsinghani's Best of Indian Sweets and Desserts
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Alright, I know Rosh Hashana and Sukkot have passed, but there are some more Jewish holidays coming next week, so here is a delicious recipe for Fruit Kugel you can make - You can impress your friends with it, whether they are Jewish or not.
1/2 cup raisins 1/2 cup apple juice 1 (12-ounce) package wide egg noodles 1/2 cup unsalted butter 2 apples, peeled, cored and diced 4 eggs, well beaten Salt Freshly ground pepper Cinnamon-sugar, to taste Soak raisins in apple juice for a minimum of four hours. Preheat oven to 375 F. degrees. Cook noodles in boiling water 5 to 10 minutes, or until tender; drain. Combine noodles, butter, apples and drained raisins in large bowl. Add eggs; mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon mixture into well-oiled 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar. Bake 35 to 45 minutes, or until top is brown and crisp. This is delicious and can be eaten warm or cold.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
October is a very important month in most of the major religions, except Christianity.
For Jews, there are three major religious holidays this month: Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret.
For Muslims, there is Eid-al-Fitr.
For Hindus, there is Diwali.
For all of these religious holidays, there are foods that are commonly served to honor the respective holiday.
I will focus today's entry on Eid since today is in fact Eid-al-Fitr, which ends the month of Ramadan. After fasting for a month, a huge feast of many courses is usually prepared. I remember the first time I experienced Eid-Al-Fitr, I was visiting my cousins in Holland who are of Islamic Indonesian decent on their father's side and I was amazed at the amount of food. My aunt had been cooking for days. There is no one food used to commemorate Eid. Islam is a religion celebrated in many countries, in many regions of the world and the foods prepared are the foods indigenous to the nationality. While my aunt prepared food like Nasi Goreng and Peanut Soup, in Pakistan foods like Biryani and Korma are prepared and in Morocco, the best tagines are prepared on Eid.
Here is a delicious recipe for a Tagine of Yam, Carrots and Prunes (if you do not like prunes like many of us Americans do not, you can substitute any combination of raisins, currants, dried apricots, figs and dates)
3 T olive oil
a little butter
30 pearl onions, blanched and peeled
2 lbs. yams, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
3 carrots, cut into bite-sized pieces
5 oz. prunes, pitted
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground ginger
2 t clear honey
2 c vegetable stock
bunch coriander, finely chopped
bunch mint, finely chopped
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Heat the olive oil in a flameproof casserole with the butter and stir in the onions. Cook for about 5 minutes until the onions are tender, then remove half of the onions from the pan and set aside.
Add the yams and carrots to the pan and cook until lightly browned. Stir in the prunes with the cinnamon, ginger and honey, then pour in the stock. Season well, cover the casserole and transfer to the oven for about 45 minutes.
Stir in the reserved onions and bake for a further 10 minutes. Gently stir in the chopped coriander and mint and serve the tagine immediately over couscous or Basmati rice.
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