During the new moon of Kartika (eighth month of the Hindu Calendar year), which usually falls in the months of October or November, Indians living in India and all over the globe celebrate Diwali. Diwali, a 4-5 day Indian holiday is celebrated with lights, fireworks, sweets and gifts. It’s like rolling Christmas and Fourth of July festivities into one!
Diwali is a wonderful time when everyone wants to get together! On the main day – Lakshmi Pujan – our festivities start in the evening with lighting candles or oil lamps throughout the house followed by puja (prayer) to Laksmi, the goddess of wealth. We wear new clothes and reconnect with family, friends and relatives and often having aDiwali brunch or a night long at our home or at one of our friends’. In India, my mom devotes several hours to making the amazingly aromatic foods called faral. On the other hand, my Diwali spread does not include the typical deep-fried snacks and Indian mithais. Instead, I focus on creating a festive menu for my parties.
This year we had potluck Diwali Party at my place and I was in charge of the first course. I pleased the crowd with my chilled Curried Pumpkin Soup that I served as amuse-bouche, Chicken Kheema Puffs hot from the oven and lastly, the party favorite SPDP (Sev Potato Dahi Puri) in Phyllo Cups.
Try my dazzling Indian hors d’oeuvres for your Diwali party this year or spice up your table any time of year!
Curried Pumpkin Soup
I often make my Curried Winter Squash Soup with the easily available pumpkin at the Indian store. It’s a light and delicate soup that tastes delicious served hot or cold. For my party, I served it chilled in shot glasses as amuse-bouche and everyone loved it!
Chicken Kheema Puffs
These crispy Kheema Puffs are hot off the oven (not deep fried!). I simply stuffed chicken kheema in round wonton wrappers and baked them in the oven.
Makes 24 puffs
24 round wonton wrappers
1 egg, only white, lightly beaten
cooking spray or canola oil, for brushing
Preheat oven to 400F deg.
Using a tablespoon, place the kheema into a center of a wonton wrapper. Lightly brush the edges of the wrapper with the beaten egg white. Fold one side of the wrapper over to form a half-moons. Press the edges together gently, making sure the seam is securely closed, so the filling does not fall out.
Place the puffs on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Spray them lightly with cooking spray or brush lightly with canola oil. Cook for 10-12 mins, turning them over half-way through, till they are crispy and golden brown.
SPDP (Sev Potato Dahi Puri) in Phyllo Cups.
…And finally, some refreshing minty potatoes with spicy, cool yogurt and sweet ‘n’sour tamarind sauce. Traditionally, they are served on small, deep fried discs made out of chick pea flour called pooris or papdi, but I thought it would be fun to serve them in little phyllo cups, just like the little Diwali diyas.
Pop one in your mouth and you’ll keep coming back for more!
Makes 15 phyllo cups
1 pack of Athens Mini Fillo Shells (contains 15 shells), thawed at room temperature or slightly warmed up in the oven as per the directions on the box
1 baking (russet or idaho) potato, baked, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup store-bought or homemade mint-cilantro chutney
1 small onion, minced
1/2 cup yogurt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp red chilli powder or cayenne pepper
salt, to taste
store-bought tamarind sauce or chutney
sev, for garnishing
Mix the mint-cilantro chutney with potatoes and set aside.
Prepare the spicy yogurt by whipping it with sugar, cayenne pepper and salt.
Fill each phyllo cup with the minty potatoes and onion and then spoon over the yogurt generously. Drizzle the tamarind sauce or chutney and garnish with sev.
Serve at room temperature.