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Festive food to brighten up Diwali

Amchya kade pharalala ya’ (come to our house for the Diwali delicacies) is a common invite given to each other during Diwali. Pharal includes a variety of long-lasting traditional savouries and sweets prepared specially for Diwali.  A few days prior to Diwali, the festival of lights, the main shopping areas of a city begin to fill up with shopaholics - not just looking for dresses and accessories but also the right choice of items that must go into the preparation of the pharal.

The process begins a month or fortnight before the festival, initiated with the selective buying of ingredients as well as sorting the grains and milling the flour, followed by the actual preparation of the goodies and storing them in an out-of-the-reach way in an effort to keep them away from pecking family members till the grand day of the festival’s commencement. After an early morning oil bath (abhyangasnan) and a burst of crackers on Dhanatrayodashi, the first day, these delicacies come out, to be attacked with relish till the last day of the festival. The woman of the house takes pride in displaying her month-long efforts by offering these goodies to friends and relatives, each showcasing unique mastery and specialty.

While in modern times it has become a single-woman kitchen, traditionally this activity of making pharal used to be the collective effort of 5-6 ladies in the house. Catering to 40-50 members of the joint family with all the specialties, while handling other household chores, required an unbelievable level of dexterity. In a perfect display of management practices and theories, pharal preparation would be a well-planned and coordinated activity with each lady member having her own share of duties.

Though every part in Maharashtra will have their own additional authentic specialties and styles of preparation, here are some common and popular ones from thepharal platter:

Tongue Tingling Munchies

Chivda: A variety of chivdas are made by frying or sautéing different types of pressed rice (pohas) or puffed rice (murmura) tempered with mustard seed, curry leaves and turmeric, spiced with red chilli powder or green chillies  and enhanced with other ingredients like dry coconut , peanuts, cashew, raisins, etc.

Shev : Mildly spiced crisp thin noodles like chips made from spice.

Chakli : Most popular and a must in Diwali pharal, this coil-shaped fried savory is made with mildly spiced mixed flour of various grains and lentils in Maharashtra and rice flour in South India.

Kadboli : Drop-shaped spiced fried savory made with mixed flour from various grains and lentils, best eaten with homemade white butter.

For Those with a Sweet Tooth

Ladoo: Sweet round balls made in assorted variety.

Rava Ladoo: Made with semolina and sugar syrup, flavored with cardamom, raisins and sometimes freshly grated coconut.

Besan Ladoo: Rich and heavy, it is made with gram flour in pure ghee and castor sugar and flavored with cardamom and raisins.

Motichoor Ladoo: Made on a commercial basis using ghee, deep fried gram flour and sugar syrup.