Happy Diwali and Sal Mubarak to all who celebrated this week! I hope that this year brings you much love, joy, and happiness.
For those who don’t know, I wanted to recap a little about Diwali, aka the Festival of Lights. It is celebrated by many Indian faiths including Jains, Hindus, and Sikhs. While each religion has their own perspective behind the occasion, they all share the common commemoration of the victory of light over darkness, spiritual prosperity, and the start of a new year.
In Jainism, Diwali signifies the anniversary of Lord Mahavir’s attainment of moksh (liberation from the cycle of reincarnation). Apart from the colorful celebrations, Jains use this day to reflect on Lord Mahavir’s teachings of ahimsa (nonviolence), aparigrah (non-posessiveness), and anekantvaad (non-absolutism) through prayer, charity, meditation, and fasting.
Growing up in the US, I still have so many special memories of celebrating this day—decorating our home with deevos (lamps), my mom teaching Diwali crafts in my elementary school class, creating rangoli designs, doing choreographed dances at the temple, dressing up in gorgeous Indian clothing, and eating a lot of delicious food!
This Diwali, I had a special opportunity to work on a project with BBC World Service to share a Diwali recipe and about the Jain diet! With over 57k views in the last couple of days, I feel so grateful for the chance to spread the message of ahimsa in cooking.
The recipe I shared was for a vegan version of traditional sheera, an Indian sweet we make to celebrate Diwali and other special occasions. If you are feeling inspired by the BBC video, follow these super easy instructions to make it yourself!
Vegan Traditional Sheera
Time: 10 minutes
Makes 4-5 servings
Base: 1/2 cup semolina 1/2 cup almond flour 1 cup sugar (1/2 brown sugar + 1/2 white sugar) 1/2 cup ghee, butter, or vegan substitute 2 cups milk or nut milk of choice for vegan version Flavor (substitute these if following variations below): 1-2 tsp ground cardamom A pinch of saffron threads 1/4 cup sliced almonds 1/4 cup cashews 1/4 golden raisins Optional for extra health benefits: 1 tbsp ground chia seeds 1 tbsp hemp seeds
- Melt the ghee, butter or vegan substitute on low-medium flame in a non-stick pan. Add semolina and roast until golden brown (~2 minutes)
- Add in almond flour, cook for 2 more minutes. Add sugar, milk, cardamom, and saffron. Stir to combine well for 5 minutes.
- Fold in nuts and raisins.
- Serve hot garnished with more nuts and saffron!
If you are in the mood for something new, try these creative flavor variations:
Base + one scoop of your favorite plant-based chocolate protein powder for a high energy snack and healthier variation! *pictured above*
Base + 1/2 tsp of matcha powder. Optional: add in 1/2 cup of cranberries, goji berries, or 2 tbsp orange zest to balance out the earthy flavor with something bright and tart. *pictured above*
Chocolate chip cookie dough:
Base + 1/3 cup chocolate chips and a 1/2 tsp vanilla. Maybe add some walnuts too!
Base + 1/2 cup crushed pineapple and 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
For more Diwali inspired recipes, check out this savory cauliflower recipe, an Indian-Mexican fusion snack, or these energy bites that make the perfect healthy sweet!