Time to light up your sweet tooth -FOOD BYTES SUNDAY STANDARD

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One question and one answer! Which is your favourite festival? On most occasions, it’s a one-word answer—‘Diwali’, the Festival of Lights. I have renamed it as festival of sweets since the crackers are on the low these days owing to our conscious effort to improve our environment. Exchanging sweets has become a part of the tradition. Different sweets are also offered as ‘prasads’ in Laxmi Ganesh Puja on Diwali. Thus they become an integral part of the festival.
It’s a fun-filled festival, which signifies victory, love, brightness and, last but not the least, food. The onset of Diwali induces in everyones mind: a positive spirit. I have always eagerly awaited this festival year after year. Not only for the gifts and firecrackers as a child and parties and card games as an adult, but also for the mouth-watering desserts and mithais. I remember my grandmother fussing over the mithais to be made for distribution during Diwali, months in advance. In our home, the chefs/cooks would start preparation weeks in advance for the occasion under my iron-fisted granny. The goodies made at our home were the talk of the town as they were always different and mixed with robust dry fruits. Sometimes, there were malai besan laddoos, which would just melt in the mouth; the soft and juicy kesari imartis; carrot and phulmakhane ki barfi with cardamom—it’s a never-ending list. This may be the sole reason for my love for Diwali.
Diwali is a time for pampering yourself and your friends and family with delicious, traditional high-on-calories sweets such as mouth-watering pedas, laddoos and barfis. Counting the calories is a challenge during Diwali. But with the changing times, size zero is the order of the day. As an old saying goes “necessity is the mother of all innovations”, chefs across the country have come up with low-calorie and sugar-free desserts to counter the calorie fight in the battle of bulge.
Some of the popular Diwali mithais are:
Barfi: This special sweet is made of milk and sugar,
garnished with cardamom and pistachios.
Jalebi: Another well-renowned Indian mithai, jalebis, are made of sugar and besan (gram flour).
Ras Malai: This Diwali special sweet is made of home-made curd cheese served in a sweetened cream sauce.
Kajukatli: A soft diamond-shaped sweet made from
freshly ground cashews.
Peda: Pedas are synonymous to Diwali. Agra pedas are
Gulab Jamun: Gulab jamun is favourite to many Indians.
Moti Choor Ladoo: The most famous of all Indian sweets. Round in shape, made of besan and consisting of
cardamom, pistaschio and a touch of saffron.
Badam Barfi: Square-shaped Barfi made from almonds and topped with cardamom seeds and pistachio nuts.
Rasgulla: These round sweets hail from Bengal. They are white in colour and come with a tasty syrup.
You must be wondering, what about the size zeros or the ones aspiring to be one and also for those who order butter chicken, dal makhanis and butter naans, but insist on a Diet Coke in the end to counter ones guilt of overdose of food.
Don’t worry! This year, you can enjoy these low-cal desserts with significantly lessened sugar content. Here’s how to prepare them.
Ras Malai, originally from Orissa, is a very popular milk-based dessert. It consists of sugary, cream-coloured (it can be yellow too) roundels of paneer (cottage cheese) soaked in malai (cream) and flavoured with cardamom. It is specially made during the festive season.

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First chef from India to be invited to Le cordon Bleu to demonstrate in Paris. Monish is credited with the trailblazing turn-around of Moti Mahal, from being a small but iconic presence in Delhi, to becoming a multi-national corporation that is well on its way to defining how the world eats Indian food. A traditionalist, Monish has remained true to the signature dishes that made Moti Mahal a legend, while reinventing the dining experience into one that is exciting and avant garde to suit modern sensibilities.

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