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Indulge your sweet tooth, but with a different, healthier form of sugar
Diwali is the biggest Hindu festival and is celebrated on the new moon night of the Hindu calendar month Kartik.
The festivities and rituals typically extend for a 5-day period, signifying the victory of light over darkness.
Ahead of Diwali, people clean and renovate their houses, and shop for new clothes, utensils, fireworks, earthen lamps and sweets.
Festivities begin with prayers and are followed by the lighting of lamps or fireworks, and a huge feast consisting of a large variety of sweets and savories.
Sugar free Diwali
There are many natural and healthy alternatives to white sugar available on the market.
They give the same sweet flavour yet do not pose the same health risks as artificial sweeteners.
Some of the commonly used natural sweeteners include coconut sugar/palm sugar, stevia, erythritol and xylitol.
Rasgulla is a syrupy dessert immensely popular in the Indian subcontinent. They are cottage cheese dumplings soaked in a light sugar syrup and served cold.
This traditional recipe can be made one or two days in advance and requires no oil. The syrup can be re-used for another batch if required.
The two most important things to make good quality Rasgulla are the softness of the cheese and the clarity of the sugar syrup.
- 1 ½ litres full fat milk
- 2 tbsp. vinegar or lemon juice
- 250 gm palm/coconut sugar
- 6-8 cups water
Boil the milk and keep aside for 5 minutes to cool.
Mix 2 tbsp. of lemon juice/vinegar with ¼ cup water and slowly add to the milk as it starts to coagulate. Add more lemon juice to the milk until the cheese and the water is clearly separated.
Strain coagulated milk in a muslin cloth. Drain it in a bowl beneath the sieve (this will separate the chena or cottage cheese).
Pour a cup of cold water on the cheese to remove any bitter residue from the lemon.
Add 4-5 cups of water to palm sugar and let it boil in a pressure cooker.
Add 2 tbsp. milk to the syrup to remove any impurities in the palm sugar. Continue this process until a clear base with light orange colour is visible. Alternatively, you may add around ½ cup of milk to the sugar mixture and cook until 1 whistle in the pressure cooker, this will speed up the purification process.
Mash the cheese on a plate for 4-5 minutes until smooth.
Roll cheese into 10-12 small balls of the same size.
When the syrup is boiling, add the balls one by one and cook on medium flame. Reduce the flame and cook for 7-8 minutes after 1 whistle.
Keep the cooker aside until the steam cools.
Transfer the contents to a serving bowl.
Let it cool further in the refrigerator for a minimum of 5-6 hours.
Dates (Khajur) are a natural source of energy and are power packed with protein, dietary fibre, Vitamins B1, B2, B3, A and C. They are free from cholesterol and have high potassium and iron content.
This traditional recipe can be made one or two days in advance. It requires no additional sugar and requires little cooking.
1 cup dates pitted
¼ cup almonds
¼ cup cashew nuts
¼ cup shredded coconut
2 tbsp. ghee or unsalted butter
1-2 tbsp. milk
3-4 pistachios (optional)
Heat a pan and dry roast almonds and cashew nuts for 3-4 minutes on a slow flame. Keep this aside.
Coarsely chop along with cardamoms.
Chop all dates in small pieces.
Heat ghee in a pan. Add the dates and cook on a slow flame for 3-4 minutes.
Add milk and keep stirring until dates become soft start sticking together.
Add the roasted nuts along with shredded coconut.
Let it cook for a few minutes, mix well until it forms a slightly sticky mixture.
Turn off the heat and let it cool.
Grease your palms with ghee, mould this mixture into a cylindrical shape by rolling in baking paper.
Refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
Cut the roll in small discs and serve on a plate.
Garnish with dry pistachios if desired.
Sugar-free mango peda
- 1 large mango (or 1 ½ cup mango puree)
- ½ cup lukewarm milk
- ½ cup light evaporated milk
- 1 ¼ cup skimmed milk powder
- 2 tbsp. ghee
- 1/3 cup erythritol
- 2 tsp. stevia
- ½ cup shredded coconut
- 3-4 cardamom seeds/pods (powdered)
- 5-6 saffron strands
- 5-6 pistachios chopped
Puree the mango pieces in a blender for 2-3 minutes with a dash of water/milk if required.
Keep the saffron strands with 2 tbsp warm milk in a separate bowl.
Add rest of the warm milk, light evaporated milk, erythritol, stevia and ghee to a bowl and mix well.
Slowly add the skimmed milk powder to the mixture and combine well with a whisk.
Heat a pan and add the mango puree. Stir continuously for 3-4 minutes on a medium flame.
Add the milk powder mixture to the mango puree and mix well for 2-3 minutes.
Add shredded coconut to the mix, this will make the mixture thicken a bit.
Add the saffron milk and cardamom powder to the mix, stirring continuously until a light dough forms and starts separating from the sides of the pan.
Turn off the heat, allow it to cool at room temperature.
Take some butter/ghee in your hands and mould the dough in small peda. Garnish with pistachios.