October 17, 2017
Based on a lunar calendar, our Hindu festival of lights is coming early this year - October 19th! But, not to worry. We are ready for it.
Diwali marks the Hindu new year and is all about letting light enter your heart, forgiving past grudges, out with the old and in with the new. One key symbol is the diya - small tea lights that we light and set up all over our home to welcome Goddess Lakshmi, the purveyor of wealth into our homes.
I still remember the years spent celebrating Diwali in India. What an experience! We'd go to the markets all day collecting little fireworks and such and set them off at home in the evening. The idea is to make lots of noise and light up your house so you're not missed when it comes to luck and light in the new year.
My recipe for sweet rice will help you and your family get in the mood. I made a few tweaks to the typical recipes out there. I used my Chai Masala instead of plain cardamom powder and swapped regular white sugar for Sucanat, or whole cane sugar - why there is a beautiful, dark brown molasses look to this rice. The combination of flavors is delicious.
Here's what you'll need.
Sweet Saffron Diwali Rice
Makes 8-10 servings
2 tablespoons milk or milk alternative
3 large pinches saffron
1 cup basmati rice, washed
4 1/2 cups water, divided
2 tablespoons ghee or oil
2 cinnamon sticks
8 cloves, slightly crushed
8 green cardamom pods, slightly crushed
1/3 cup raisin or other dry fruit (cranberry, cherries, or yellow raisins)
12 raw almonds, thinly sliced
12 raw cashews, roughly chopped
1 cup Sucanat or regular sugar
1 teaspoon chai masala (optional)
1. Put the saffron strands in the milk and set aside to dissolve.
2. Soak rice in ample water about 20 minutes. Drain. Boil rice in 4 cups of water over medium-high heat until al dente, about 7 minutes. Carefully drain the rice in a colander and set aside. It’s important the rice not be mushy, so don't overcook.
3. In a medium pot, heat the ghee. Add cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom pods. Cook about 40 seconds until fragrant. I love using my Le Creuset for this recipe.
4. Add the raisins, almonds, and cashews. Cook another 40 seconds to a minute.
5. Add Sucanat or sugar. Mix well and cook another 40 seconds.
6. Add 1/2 cup water, saffron-milk mixture, and chai masala if using. Mix well and simmer over low heat about 2 minutes until the sugar dissolves completely.
7. Add the cooked rice to this mixture and mix well. It will look a little watery, but not to worry. Cook 2 minutes, turn the heat down, and cover the pot. Cook 7-8 minutes until the rice absorbs most of the moisture. Stir in between.
8. Turn the heat off, keep the lid on the pot, and let the mixture sit for another 5 minutes so the rice absorbs all the flavors.
9. Dole into small bowls and enjoy warm or cold. Leave the whole spices in for decoration or take out before serving – the cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, and cloves. If you miss a few cloves or cardamom pods not to worry – they are perfectly fine to eat.
Beautiful Pictures by Luna Light Media.