Diwali celebrates the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil; people clean and decorate their homes, put on new clothes and light lamps and candles both inside and outside their homes, praying to Lakshmi, the goddess of fertility and prosperity. Gifts are exchanged and Indian sweets are eaten - we had some in the office at work for people to try.
The festival has a different origin for other religions, and when I was reading up on it for an article I wrote for the intranet at work, I discovered Sikhs celebrate Diwali as marking the release of the Sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind, from a prison in Gwalior, India. The reason I was so fascinated by this is that I have actually been to Gwalior!
In 2008 I went to the wedding of two friends in Bhopal, India. Both bride and groom lived in the UK but both had families in India so they had a ceremony in England but the wedding itself was in India. A group of my university friends decided to go - I remember doing a lot of the planning, booking train journeys so we could fly into Delhi, visit the Taj Mahal and make our way down the country to where the wedding was taking place. While looking for somewhere to stop on the way we came across Gwalior and spend a day walking around the fort and a night in a hotel there. We had a fantastic time - looking back at the photos now I was struck by the majesty of some of the sights we saw (and then by how different I looked eight years ago!).
This is a Jamie Oliver recipe from the Sunday Times magazine - possibly quite some time ago. I'm not sure as I tore the page out and kept it in my recipe clippings folder. The recipe involves roasting a whole cauliflower but I wanted to make this a quicker, easier recipe so cut the cauliflower into florets. I actually steamed them rather than roasted as well to speed up the process so the flavour of my dish was undoubtedly different to the intended recipe, but I did use the recipe to make the sauce, which involved quite a lot of ingredients and a bit of effort.
This is the version I did with steamed cauliflower rather than the whole roasted one:
To serve 4, you need:
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
3 fresh red chillies
2 thumb-sized pieces of ginger, peeled
2 tbsp. garam masala
1 tbsp. sweet smoked paprika
1 bunch fresh coriander
75g flaked almonds
2 tbsp. tomato puree
400g tin light coconut milk
400g tin tomatoes
1 whole cauliflower
I'm sharing this with the Food Calendar at Charlotte's Lively Kitchen.