Diwali recipes – Tips for a savvy party

Parties, whether you are the host or the invitee, are meant to be fun filled times. A good party has only one secret and we are going to let it out: it is the feeling of excitement enhanced by a welcoming drink, deliciously presented food and a happy mood.
If the space or the rooms in the house are cleaned up and crockery and glasses set out then there is no last minute stress to set things up. You can also do some furniture rearranging to create ‘gossip’ corners and leave lots of open space for easy movement and some dancing, you never know! Disposables can be bought provided the numbers expected are large. The kitchen work can happen simultaneously
Make the menu harmonious in taste, texture and colour so that it appeals to the eye and stomach both. Design the menu to take advantage of what’s in season. There is virtue in simplicity. Plan dishes that complement each other in terms of work they require. Be sure not to plan a lot of dishes that need last minute cooking. Garnishings like sprigs of herbs, ginger julienne, onion rings, lemon wedges, etc pique appetites.
Surprise you guests by whipping up a Jal Jeera using club soda and a mint sprig. Crushed ice is an option.Purchase the savouries or starters or put them together using easy ingredients. Small appetizers are a hit anytime.
Play with cracker bases, papdi bases, salted biscuits or even basket Canapés.
One can stamp out small cookie sized rounds from large readymade pizza bases and top them with a variety of toppings.
Serve cheese straws with dips or for the more health conscious Vegetable Crudités.
Pass around bowls of roasted nuts or salads that can be picked up with tooth picks.
Another suggestion is to decide where the focus is: one can serve more of starters and appetizers with mocktails and play down the main course or vice versa.
The best options that can be served up quickly are fragrant pulaos with raita and papads (roll them up or fold into triangles) or stew with garlic bread. If time permits, Chole Bhature is another fantastic offering. Farewell would be with Chocolate Paan Rolls. Yes. Meethe paan (kalkkati or benarasi), dipped half way through in melted chocolate and served chilled. Unforgettable.
One tip: If it is a Diwali party (which could be somehow happening much after Diwali is over!) see to it that light, low fat snacks are served. Go slow on the sweets and desserts as the festival time would have meant indulgence in sweets and savouries for many! More Diwali recipes.

Diwali recipes: Setting the low calorie trend!

The world revolves around snacks! And with the festive season on, it is quite natural for many households to put the kadai on and fry till all the snack tins are filled to the brim. Be it crunchy snacks that can be stored or fresh ones that need to be served immediately, the fact remains that if not fried then not tried! We do serve idlis and dhoklas but people look forward to bingeing during pre Diwali, Diwali and even post Diwali days…the contention being who would finish off everything at home!
Are you the one who has always been the one for snacks? Then right now, right here we have some ideas for low calorie snacks that can totally satisfy you with their variety as well as the fact that though low in fat they are high in taste. They will keep the crackling spirit of Diwali alive, don’t worry.
Bhel: What a nice crunchy medley! Puffed rice, chutneys, onions, tomatoes, potatoes… all together a healthy snack. Recommend that you keep a tin of lightly roasted puffed rice in your snack bin. As now we are calorie conscious skimp on the sev and puris otherwise it is a perfect dish. Even dry bhel without chutneys and a dash of lemon is enjoyable. Play with ideas: add sprouts, fresh pomegranate pearls, cucumbers, peanuts…mix up the bhel when the visitors come in and make it as colourful as you can. Try out Sprout Bhel.
Baked karanjis: A traditional snack with the smack of modernity! Try these and know that these and are unbelievably good. You can even make the stuffing healthier by including dates and anjeer. Check out Date and Anjeer Baked Karanji. So give the ghee a glad miss and let the oven do the cooking.
Corn: Corn niblets make a kingly snack. Just boil for three to four minutes and serve warm with a little knob of butter and a dash of lemon. Add salt and a pinch of red chilli powder. We suggest Corn Bhel with boiled niblets, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and chutneys and you can top with crushed cornflakes and give sev a miss. Corn with tomato salsa also tastes excellent on plain wheat khakhras.
Idlis: When you make idlis try different toppings so that they become a handy, tasty, spicy snack that is low in fat. Try to be creative so that the final result is attractive. Invest in cocktail idli or button idli moulds. These small idlis with toppings look delightful! Kanchipuram idlis served banana leaf is so very festive in looks!
Fruits: A whole fruit – be it an apple, a banana, an orange or some plums or pears, are unmatched in their nutritive properties. To make things different cut some up and sprinkle with chaat masala. Garnish with a flourish of a tomato rose! A Fruit Chaat like this can be quite filling and of course, quick and low calorie! Fruits can also help make smoothies that are easy to make and easy on the palate too. And of course you can give the coloured synthetic sweet syrups a miss and bid the colas adieu.
Set the example with these Diwali recipes this month and see the fun next year round!

What’s healthy in today’s definition

We were at Landmark in Phoenix Mills on Friday for the launch of the new book Fun Foods for Fussy Kids. There was a question answer session and though it is difficult to narrate all that happened, let me tell you in a condensed form. The talk naturally veered toward what is healthy for kids. I have to redefine it as ‘what is healthy for kids today!’ Sure the lure of fatty foods like pavbhaji, pizzas, brownies with ice cream, cola floats, burgers and chips, fried chicken is very much present. If we deny the kids at home, they have means to go and eat out!! So the idea of the book is to give the kids what they want but stick to the basic fundamentals of healthy cooking. Yes, there are fried foods but foods fried in a known source of oil at home are not as bad as allowing them to eat (or even eating along with them) fried foods at fast food outlets. I have always stated that it is better to look underweight but be well nourished in your daily meals. Children who are over weight (height weight ratio according to age is a good parameter to calculate) are more likely to be less active than children who look thin and evoke pitiable glances from the other indulgent mothers. But let me tell you, sports people prefer to be on the thinner side…it gives them speed on their feet. Let alone kids, let us look at adults too. You can be fat and fit but then ‘fat’ is a definition that varies from country to country depending on the BMIs.
My point here is, let us feed our children the basic, the good ghar ka khaana. We ourselves have to deny ourselves the pleasures of fast foods. We ourselves have to set exemplary examples. I am proud to say that our daughters eat healthy meals at home and we also allow them to eat out with friends. We have to be alert and strike the right balance. The time is NOW.
In case you are wanting to look up some good recipes, let me share a few with you.
Till I write again
Sanjeev Kapoor