Ahead of Diwali, Asda spoke to customers to find out their signature Diwali dishes and family favourites
With the onset of Ganesh Utsav we get an indication that Diwali is not far off. This year Diwali falls on the 19th of October and families have started their preparation for the festivities and myriad get-togethers which are going to mark the festival of lights and togetherness for many in Britain. Living and celebrating Diwali outside India comes with the yearning to observe all the rituals properly, cherish the special moments spent with your family and pass on the cultural legacy to the next generation.
This year, we spoke to two Asda shoppers; Sajni and Simi, who celebrate Diwali in their own style balancing their British way of life and their Indian culture with varying degrees of experimentation. Preparation for Diwali doesn’t revolve solely around food, rather it transcends across all aspects of life. Be it cleaning and getting the house in order or preparing for the religious observances.
For 25-year-old Sajni Sabharwal, Diwali has always been a big celebration. Born and brought up in the UK, her parents ensured Diwali was a festival they all celebrated together with fireworks, traditional sweets, new clothes and rituals.
“Diwali has always been my favourite time of the year! From the small rituals, to decorating the house and buying new clothes for each other, it has been a time of bonding and celebrations, and even after getting married it has been exactly the same.”
For Sajni, Diwali preparations begin at least four weeks in advance, with cleaning the house, dressing up the mandir and making Diwali delicacies.
“When I was younger, I remember my mother having to go specially to the Indian shops to buy things for Diwali, but now the preparations have become so much easier, especially with the 24-hour Asda stores, which make shopping so much more convenient – right from firecrackers to diyas to chickpeas and much more.”
But once all the regular preparation is out of the way, the cousins and family start planning the parties and menus which would delight their guests and family members alike.
“On my in-law’s side, we follow some traditions very strictly and that includes making all the mithais like coconut barfi, gulab jamuns and savoury snacks like mathis and samosas at home from fresh ingredients. Our festivities are incomplete without these homemade delicacies!”
But times are changing and the kids of the family do not enjoy traditional food as much, which gives people like Sajni a chance to experiment and come up with some innovative delights.
“While the adults in the household indulge in aloo puri, ladoos and pakoras, sometimes the children get tired of eating too much Indian food during the festive season. To add some excitement to their celebration, I try to add a modern twist to some dishes, like serving mushrooms with aloo or cheese stuffing or adding a desi tadka to stir fry noodles and sometimes I go as far as making a vegetarian Spaghetti Bolognese.”
While for Sajni Diwali is a massive celebration, for Simi Mohan, who moved to London seven years ago, it is a close-knit family affair. Simi said:
“In India every hour we would have someone coming home with Diwali gifts and mithais, the house would be lit up brightly and the kitchen would be buzzing with sounds and aromas of amazing food. Therefore, here in the UK I have made it a personal ritual to decorate my house with candles, flowers and incense, cook loads of traditional recipes and invite close friends over to celebrate Diwali in it’s true spirit of togetherness. The feeling of being with my family on this festival gives me a perfect vibe of Diwali.”
When it comes to food, Simi tries to recreate the same magic of Diwali as back home.
“Though we are just a few of us I start stocking up on my dals, vegetables and masalas weeks before hand – because Diwali without Sambhar and Thoran is incomplete for me, as it rekindles those childhood memories. And while the Kerala delights take care of the savoury, Diwali celebrations are incomplete without a sweet touch. Since I am not very good with making traditional sweets at home, I usually serve Kheer with a fruity spin, by adding berries and other fruits or I serve Gulab Jamuns with ice-cream and sometimes it’s the regular custard with an apple crumble. That way my British friends enjoy it as well!”
With their small twists to dishes and festive fervour, both Sajni and Simi ensure everyone comes together to have a memorable time.
Asda’s Diwali range is all set to help you with your Diwali celebrations, whether it is traditional or infused with a touch of British-ness. So, if you’re planning for those lavish party platters, putting your festive menu together or decorating your home, Asda’s Diwali range is here to partner you through every step of the way.