It’s that most wonderful time of the year — the festive season, the season of fancy clothes, family gatherings (safely done, of course), traditional activities, and lavish feasts. No festival is really complete without the joy of a grand eat, blitzing through varieties of snacks, savories, desserts, what have you. In the midst of all the nosy relatives and the incessant picture-taking, the food is really the shining beacon at big fat Indian festivals.
We at SEEMA wholeheartedly agree, having enjoyed a plate — or five — of our favorites at these occasions. We’ve got for you some of the team’s favorite festive eats, from the sweet to the delightfully savory, and hope you’ll enjoy these for yourselves this season!
Thengai poli (coconut obbattu): A recipe from southern India, thengai poli is another delicious variety of poli. Most of us make dal poli for Aavani Avittam or Bhogi Pandigai. This coconut poli is one of the main sweets available for sale in many poli stalls and sweet shops in South India. Most of us like the pooranam, the filling we prepare for modak. It is the same filling that you stuff inside the maida dough to make these delicious polis. You can find it here.
Chocolate barfi: My maternal grandfather made barfi every year and, like every kid, I absolutely loved the chocolate version he made, including the fine silver leaf on top. Even though he’s no longer with us, the family makes it every year, and it brings back fond memories. It’s sweet, it’s filling, it’s the perfect chocolate barfi. You can find it here.
Samosas: Crispy pastry, spicy potato and peas filling, chutney on the side — this one’s my all-time favorite festive season snack! It doesn’t even have to be for the festive season. It can be your morning breakfast, your afternoon tea companion, the little bite you have when on the road with friends. A samosa is there for you whenever you need it, and I can’t imagine a festive season without it. You can find it here.
Gajar ka halwa: Carrots, whole milk, ghee, sugar, and some nuts slow-cooked is the best dessert one can have when the weather cools down. No gajar ka halwa ever comes close to the one my mother makes, but then I haven’t tasted them in many places to drop the bias. I love it nice and hot with nuts, as long as there is no raisin in it. You can find it here.
Rosogolla: A syrupy and spongy dessert, it was one of my favorites growing up. They’re ball-shaped dumplings of Indian cottage cheese and semolina dough, cooked in a light sugar syrup. This is done until the syrup permeates the dumplings. Haldiram is still a popular brand selling rosogolla, both in India and across the globe. You can find it here.
Murukku: Women in our family would make murukku in bulk, so that we could distribute it to friends and family. Growing up in India, it was hard not to eat them all day long, and very easy to finish a bag in one sitting. Maybe I’ll indulge myself and eat another bag this Diwali. You can find it here.
Biryani: Not many occasions go by without someone bringing up biryani. The versatility of the dish and its impact on various communities in the Indian diaspora is astounding, which usually means there’s plenty to go around. I may be partial to a colorful chicken biryani, but there’s a way anyone can enjoy the rice and meat delicacy. You can find it here.
Kaju katli: For cashew lovers out there (slowly raises hand), this is the ultimate sweet treat. No festive season is complete without a dessert that actually looks like it came dressed up for the party. And with its diamond-shaped form and edible silver foil, it’s ready to adorn any large table with its mix of classic sweet and savory flavors. You can find it here.