Wishing all of you a beautiful day filled with love, light, and delicious food!
Many of the foods we traditionally eat on Diwali and other celebrations, albeit absolutely delicious, are often high in calories, fried, contain dairy, and are loaded with sugar. So how can we celebrate in a healthier way?
I had a chat on Instagram Live recently with my friend, Jaineel from @abswithouteggs, on ways we can make some easy swaps to Diwali sweets and savory dishes to make them both vegan and more health conscious. We discussed some tips that you may find helpful for not only Diwali, but anytime we hit the holidays where food becomes a central part of our celebrations.
Some tips for a healthier holiday:
- Substitute sugar in sweet recipes with a healthier alternative like stevia, coconut sugar, pure maple syrup, agave nectar, dates, or date syrup, or fresh fruits
- Try baking instead of frying traditional Indian Diwali dishes (like these samosas!)
- Use whole wheat flour instead of white flour
- Substitute vegan yogurt in place of dairy (perfect for shrikhand!)
- Switch out dairy milk for oat, coconut, or soy milk
- Add your favorite flavored protein powder (or even unflavored) to your mithai/sweet dishes for a nutritional boost
- Almond or coconut flour are great substitute for milk powder
- Instead of ghee, opt for vegan butter or coconut oil
- If you need a binding agent in your sweets, try using a neutral nut/seed butter to provide healthy fats and protein. My favorite is tahini!
- Everything in moderation! Maintain a consistent exercise routine, it is ok to celebrate with a treat on special occasions. If you really want to, have a jalebi, it’s OKAY.
- Stay well hydrated with water. Sometimes when we catch ourselves reaching back to the pantry for a snack again and again, what our bodies really need is hydration. This will also help you to precent over eating or unhealthy snacking.
- Maintain a balanced pattern of eating. Don’t stress about calories and don’t skip meals to “save” a reservoir of calories for your holiday dinner. Doing that can result in overeating, feeling sluggish afterwards, and an unhealthy relationship with food. It is one meal, so just enjoy it!
- Bake instead of frying! Which brings us to the recipe for today…
Jain+ Vegan Traditional Baked Samosas
▸ Vegan, Jain, Vegetarian, sugar-free
Makes: approx. 12 samosas
Total Time: ~1 hour
For the pastry:
- 250 g whole wheat flour (or combo of ¼ cup almond flour + ¾ cup whole wheat)
- 2 tsp salt
- 3 tablespoons neutral oil (I used vegetable oil)
- ½ cup water + 1 tbsp water
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and salt. Gradually add oil and mix with your hands until well incorporated and crumby. Gradually add water while kneading until it forms a stiff dough. Let the dough rest covered for 10-15 minutes. Uncover and wet hands with 1 tsp oil and knead the dough briefly one more time. Divide into equal portions, about the size of a ping pong ball. Roll into balls and pat into a flat disc. Using a rolling pin, on a lightly floured surface, roll each ball into an circle/oval shape, about 1 mm thick. Cut down the center of the oval to make 2 semicircular pastries. Repeat for remaining dough. Cover and set aside.
For the filling:
- 3 cups chopped Green plantain (the fat kind, I used 5)
- 1 cup green peas, boiled from fresh or frozen (or a mix of any veggies you like!)
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves and stems finely chopped
- 1 green chili, finely chopped (or 2 if you like it spicy!)
- 1 sprig curry leaves-finely chopped (optional)
- 8-10 cashews, crushed (optional)
- ¼ cup water
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp dry ginger
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder or sub 1 additional tsp lemon juice)
- 1 tbsp garam masala
- 1 tbsp red chili
- 1/4 tsp hing (asafoetida)
- Salt to taste
Prep the plantains by cutting each into 2 inch chunks, and boiling them with the skin on for about 30 minutes until fork-tender. Remove from the pot and let cool. Carefully remove the skins and chop into 1-2 cm chunks. Meanwhile, defrost and boil 1 cup of green peas for about 5 minutes.
In a large sauté pan on medium heat, heat 1 tbsp oil and add cumin seeds, green chili, curry leaves, hing, and coriander seeds to temper for about 30-60 seconds. Add chopped plantain, green peas, and salt. Mix until combined. Add dried ginger, turmeric, garam masala, red chili, amchoor, and lemon juice. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, adding splashes of water as needed to deglaze the pan and help combine all the flavors. Add salt to taste. Toss in crushed cashews, and remove from heat. Stir in cilantro and let the mixture cool.
Wet the borders of your pastry. Picking up one corner with the flat edge facing down, roll into a cone. Pinch the rolled edge together to seal. Fill with 1-2 tbsp of the filling (be careful not to over fill or it will open up!) Pinch the top edges of the cone together to seal the samosa.
Line a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place samosas on the tray and lightly spray or brush with oil on both sides. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes or until golden. Halfway through the baking, be sure to flip the samosas so they are evenly baked.
I like to serve these hot with a fresh green chili chutney and sweet cranberry-date chutney! I’ll be sharing how to make these in my next post, so stay tuned and subscribe to the blog for notifications:
If you’re looking for more Diwali recipes, check out my other recipes: Pinki’s Palate on BBC | Vegan Sheera or It’s Diwali Week! Tamarind Curried Cauliflower + Cucumber Raita or Diwali Week Recipe #2: Burrito Bowl Bhel + Mango-Peach Habañero Salsa!