Diwali is here. Well, almost. And we are all busy decking up our homes and vicinity. With a nip in the air, the atmosphere seems alive. Markets are full, roads are jammed and a lot of stuff is being picked and packed under the label ‘Diwali goodies’. From decorations, sweets to dry fruits, you walk through those extended local shops, every corner buzzing with festive energy.
Despite so many newer trends, what has not changed is the feel of Diwali. We tend to celebrate much before the actual day and try to bring that happy mood in every tiny task that we do to welcome the festival of lights.
And apart from market-hopping, celebrations, there’s obviously the prettily laid out festive fare that adds enthusiasm to our festive spirit. Nothing spells Diwali as well as our delectable traditional sweets. And why not, as there’s a lot of nostalgia associated to it. How can we even forget the days when gobbling up our favourite laddoos, katlis, and traditional mithais like jalebis and gulab jamuns was a norm. Did we ever bother about the calories back then?
In my cooking workshops, especially during Diwali time, we prepare some novel, mouth-watering delights every year. I try to maintain traditional flavours, yet do some juggling of ingredients with healthier options. This helps me revive the festive platter altogether. Rather than be faced with massive portions of ghee-laden sweet delights, that is sure to pose a dilemma, I share recipes that are a blend of ancient and modern ingredients, while being positively low on the calorie meter.
Read for the step by step fusion recipe of Amaranth and Cranberry Bites that I have kept for this year’s Diwali platter.
For 13 bites (cube size)
½ cup – Amaranth Flour (Rajgira aata)
2 tbsp – Cow ghee
¼ cup – Chopped dried cranberries
¼ cup – Chopped dates
¼ cup – Jaggery powder
2 tbsp – Chopped walnuts
2 tbsp – Chopped cashews
2 tbsp – chopped almonds
1 tbsp – Sesame seeds
1 tbsp – Sunflower seeds
1 tbsp – Pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp – Luke warm milk
1 tbsp – Sliced almonds
1 tbsp – Sliced pistachios
1. In a pan, heat cow ghee and add Amaranth flour. Roast it till you get an aroma. Add in sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and cook for 1-2 minutes.
2. Now add all chopped nuts (do not add sliced nuts). Cook further for 2-3 minutes.
3. Add jaggery powder and mix it nicely till the jaggery starts to melt.
4. Add milk and stir it nicely till the entire mixture is even and dried up.
5. Transfer the mixture to another bowl and bring it to a room temperature.
6. Pick up any unused ice tray and grease it with ghee.
7. Spread sliced nuts as shown in the picture above.
8. Fill it up with Amaranth and nuts mixture (shown in the picture).
9. Refrigerate for 30-40 minutes.
10. Demould and decorate your platter.
11. Serve and wish everyone a Happy Diwali.
Health benefits of Amaranth, Cranberries, Nuts and Seeds
Superfood Amaranth is a nutritious, gluten-free grain that provides plenty of fibre, protein and micronutrients. It has also been associated with a number of health benefits, including reduced inflammation, lower cholesterol levels and increased weight loss.
Cranberries are loaded with an antioxidant that reduces the chances of developing urinary tract infections. Cranberries have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects. They protect against liver diseases, lower the blood pressure and improve eyesight.
Nuts and seeds are a rich source of dietary fibre that helps slow the rate of digestion and promote regular bowel movements. Nuts can be useful in protecting from coronary artery disease. Nuts contain arginine, a precursor to nitric oxide that can help relax the blood vessels and prevent clotting. Regular consumption of nuts and seeds is recommended for vegetarians, vegans or people who avoid animal foods. They are a good substitute for meats, fish and eggs as they contain protein, fat, iron, zinc and niacin. More than 30 grams of nuts and seeds a day may be needed to ensure adequate protein.
Shalini Rajani is the founder of Crazy Kadchi and holds innovative and healthy cooking workshops for all age groups.