Reading Time: 3 minutesMake it a Diwali with a difference this year. Bring in a touch of Oz
Banish the kali dal, paneer pasanda and dahi vada for once, and try something different. Given the time of year, perhaps salads with attitude will suit, from the new cuisine menus of Luke Mangan, Karen Martini or Gary Mehigan, which combine fruits and vegetables and leaves and nuts and cheese with some sassy dressings. Not only will you feel lighter, you won’t be slaving over the stove for hours either, and you’ll still have fancy food for your guests.
You probably won’t add meat to your menu if your event is on Diwali night, but if you’re celebrating either side of the actual date like we do frequently in our community, then non-veg chalega.
For dessert, something fruity should suit the mood, rather than your regular diabetes-inducers.
Hey, if the Aussies can switch from ham to prawns for their traditional Christmas feast, why can’t we move from subzi to salads at Diwali, and from khoya to fruit for dessert?
And then, there’s Aussie bush tucker. Impress your guests with your experiments marrying Indian cuisine with native foods. There’s a whole new world out there waiting to be explored! How about akudjura (bush tomato) chutney with your corn chips? Dips made of curried native plums? Care for some mountain pepper berry flavoured curry? Kachumber salad with munthari berries sounds like a winner.
Vic Cherikoff’s Uniquely Australian could have a whole new edition, in a novel Indo-Aussie collaboration!
Dhanya Samuel, food blogger and Indian Link contributor, also suggests the use of mountain pepper to make pepper chicken or bhindi fry; lemon myrtle in lemon mint coolers and in chilli pickle, tomato relish and garlic chutney; finger lime salsa topping for roasted papads; New Zealand spinach or warrigal greens cooked with dal; Australian native yams cooked in paneer style preparations, and paperbark instead of banana leaves to steam fish with. There’s no limit to Dhanya’s creativity!
Since we’re trying to be different, we have to go with Indian-inspired cocktails, definitely. (If Diwali night is best left alcohol free, try these for a pre- or post-Diwali event).
Mangoes, the all-time favourite fruit at any Indian household, have just begun to make an appearance on the supermarket shelves, so let’s start with these. Mango sangria. Mango martini. Mango mojito. Mango margarita. Mango daiquiri. Mango bellini. Go figure out the recipes for yourselves, but here’s ours for a Mango Cosmopolitan:
50 ml mango infused rum
25 ml Triple Sec (or Cointreau or Grand Marnier)
25 ml cranberry juice
15 ml mango juice
Shake well, strain into a chilled glass and decorate with fresh mint leaves.
There are plenty of other martinis you can concoct: Chai martini, Imli martini, Cardamom martini with orange.
More traditional fare can be given a western makeover too; lassi can be converted to a Champagne lassi, or a strawberry lassi prepared with Baileys. Gol gappa shots could be a fun way of serving the ever-popular street food, with the pani in a shot glass and the puri with its stuffing placed delicately on the top.
Of course you’ll have to invent Indian-inspired names for your cocktails too: how about Dishum, Dhichkiaaoon, Bollywood Smash, Masala Bala, Mirchi Pataka (stop me, someone!)