I am not a fan of Diwali, thanks to the fire crackers. To be honest, I don't remember enjoying fire crackers even as a kid. My mom, dad and sister fall into the same category too. Before you think we are some sort of outcasts in the world of festivals, let me clarify that we love the spirit of Diwali and celebrate it with light, like all others. Except that we light lamps, rather than the noisy and dangerous fire crackers.
As a kid, walking down the streets of Vellore to my school a couple of furlongs away, was a nightmare during Diwali. Kids and grownups alike start bursting crackers in the narrow streets thronging with people, blissfully aware and conscious of the dangers the passerbys face. This menace starts a week before Diwali and continues for a week after and has been the same for the past 20 years. One of my school friends got hurt by a 'Lakshmi bomb' during one of those walks. Even now, I pray for my mom and dad's safety during the Diwali season even though travelling in a four wheeler provides shelter to some extent.
I know you might think that I am being paranoid, but imagine the consequences when these potent bombs are placed in the hands of innocent kids, who are not supervised by elders. Even the colorful rockets and the seemingly harmless sparklers are deadly. We have heard enough horror stories of burns and blisters and in some cases even worse.
I am not against fire crackers, but I believe that their use must be regulated. Fire crackers are beautiful, amusing inventions when they are set off in an open space, away from public harm.
Ok, let me stop my sermon. No one can deny that Diwali is fun. Our day starts early with a hot oil bath using shikakai, followed by crisp new clothes. Next comes the pooja session and the scrumptious food. The evening sees the flickers of small clay lamps, dancing to the light breeze. Ah, how so peaceful... That is if we stuff our ears with cotton. :-)
To my DH, Diwali means ' Godhuma Halwa' made by his grandma. I never got the recipe from her, but I made it my way and it turned out exactly the way she makes it. That was my DH's verdict, though. :-)
Wheat halwa is traditionally made by soaking wheat grains for 24 hours and grinding them to extract the wheat milk. The reason behind it is to use only the starch and not the gluten.
I found a shortcut using wheat flour instead of the whole grains. Read on to find out....Wheat Halwa:
Wheat Flour / Atta / Godhumai Maavu - 1 Cup
Sugar (Domino Brand) - 3/4 Cup + 1 Tbsp
Ghee - 16 Tbsps
Water - 1/4 Cup
Lemon Juice - 2 Tbsps
Cardamom Seeds from 4 pods - Finely ground
A fistful of broken cashewnuts or pistachios
Using a little water, make a firm dough with the wheat flour. Place the dough in a deep vessel and add water so that the dough is just immersed. Keep it aside for 30 mins.
After 30 mins, start kneading the dough, taking care to keep it immersed in water. White, milky, starchy extract will start to ooze out from the dough and the insoluble gluten can be felt as thin strands. Discard the gluten. Knead the dough till all the gluten has been removed and filter the milky extract. Any left out gluten will settle in the filter.
To the milky extract, add about 1.5 cups of water and keep aside for 20 mins. Next, discard the top most 1/2 cup of the clear liquid, without disturbing the settled milk.
Take a thick bottomed sauce pan and add the sugar. To it, add 1/4 cup of the remaining clear liquid and heat on a low flame till a one string consistency syrup is formed. Switch off the heat at this point for a couple of minutes and slowly pour the milky extract into the syrup along with the lemon juice, stirring all the while.
Switch on the heat again on a mid flame and keep stirring till the mixture thickens. Start adding the ghee two tablespoons at a time, whenever the mixture sticks to the pan. Halwa is done when the ghee seperates out and the mixture comes together as a semi solid mass. Add the cardamom powder and the broken cashewnuts to the halwa and stir till well blended.
Serve as such or mold to the desired shape.
When using sugar, check the sweetness. I have found that different brands of sugar have different sweetness levels. Holly brand of sugar found in Costco is sweeter than the Domino brand.
This yummy halwa goes to JFI - Jihva Special Editon : The Festive Series hosted by gracious Vee of Past, Present and Me. and to Monthly Mingle - Traditional Feasts hosted by lovely Meeta of What's For Lunch Honey?.
Thank you for accepting my late entry, Vee.