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10 delicious Diwali sweets recipes

What’s Cooking? by P.S. Lakshmi Rao


Almond Barfi

1 cup almonds with skin or without the skin
1/2 cup milk
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
½ teaspoon crushed cardamom seeds
¼ teaspoon saffron threads soaked in teaspoon of milk (optional)
Soak almonds in cold water for an hour.
Boil 2 cups water in small sauce pan and add almonds. Boil them for a minute.  Remove almonds from hot water and put them in ice water. Take one almond at a time in between your thumb and index finger and squeeze it to remove the skin. Repeat with rest of the almonds. You can eliminate this process if you are using almonds without skin.
Blend almonds with milk in a blender until it becomes thick paste. Remove the almond paste from the blender in to a thick non-stick pan and mix with sugar. Place the pan on the stove over medium heat. Stir continuously with a heat proof spatula until the almond mixture becomes thick. Add a little ghee in between until all the ghee is finished. Mix cardamom powder and saffron (if using). Spread almond barfi over a greased plate.
Cut in to desired shapes when barfi is cold.

Cashew Brittle

4 Cups cashew pieces
2 Cups brown sugar
1 Cup regular sugar
1/2 Cup water
1 Teaspoon crushed, fresh cardamom seed
1 Table spoon homemade ghee ( clarified unsalted butter)
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Spread cashew pieces on a large pizza plate or cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes stirring often. When cashews are just light brown, take them out of the oven and cool them.
Spread a teaspoon of ghee on a large pizza plate or cookie sheet and keep it a side.
In a large sauce pan mix sugars and water and boil syrup on medium high heat stirring continuously. Test syrup by putting a drop on a plate.
It should feel thick and not runny.
Remove syrup from the heat and add ghee, cardamom powder and cashews and mix fast and thoroughly and pour it on prepared pizza plate ( or cookie sheet) and spread it quickly before the brittle gets hard.
Break them to pieces and serve them in a silver plate, bowl, or a crystal bowl.
Note: Cashews can be prepared one day early and kept in air tight container after they are cooled. This sweet is a very easy to make quickly.
Happy Deepavali / Sal Mubarak!


Bournvita Barfi

1/2 cup bournvita

2 ½ cups all purpose flour

1 ¼ cups melted ghee

3 cups sugar

1 cup water

1 cup khova (mawa) blend


Blend bournvita in blender until soft.

Heat a four-quart non stick pan on medium low heat and fry 2 ½ cups all purpose flour for five minutes. Divide the fried flour into two bowls. 1 ½ cups flour into one bowl and 1 cup into the other. Mix ¼ cup of melted ghee into1 ½ cups flour. Mix another ¼ cup of ghee plus ½ cup bournvita with the remaining 1 cup flour. Set aside both bowls.

Return the pan to the stove and mix 1 ½ cups sugar with ½ cup water on medium high heat. Add khova and mix until khova is melted. When the syrup starts to bubble reduce the heat to medium low heat. Add the  1 ½ cups flour and ghee mixture into the sugar syrup, mixing briskly to make sure there are no lumps. (Remove the pan from the heat and mix if needed.) Slowly add ¼ cup ghee while mixing on medium low heat until the flour mixture (barfi) loses the glossy texture. Pour the barfi on to a greased cookie sheet and spread it with a rolling pin into half an inch thick sheet. This has to be done quickly.

Return the pan to the stove and make sugar syrup. Add khova. Mix bourn vita mixture into sugar syrup while mixing the other ¼ cup ghee slowly. Prepare bourn vita barfi the same as the flour barfi. When barfi looses the glossy texture quickly pour bourn barfi on top of flour barfi. Let it cool for five minutes before cutting. Cut it into two-inch squares or 1 x 2 inch rectangles.

Makes 35 to 40 pieces.

Note: Mix little more ghee if the barfi starts to stick to the pan. If the sugar syrup is too thick it is hard to spread the barfi and it will be crumbly.

I would like to thank Mr. Kommaraju Ramakrishna (chief cook at  the Hindu Temple of Atlanta) for sharing this recipe.


Apple, Carrot & Almond Halwa

3 Tablespoons Ghee (clarified butter)

1 Tablespoon raisins

3 Cups grated carrots

3 Cups grated apples (Gala, Fuji or Green)

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

½ Cup ricotta cheese

½ Cup almond powder

¾ Cup sugar

½ Cup brown sugar packed or jaggery

½ Cup chopped dates

½ Teaspoon fresh ground cardamom seeds

1 Tablespoon almond slices for decoration (optional)


Mix lemon juice with grated apples to prevent them from turning brown.

Heat one tablespoon of ghee in a heavy saucepan or non-stick pan on medium heat. Add raisins and fry until they become round. Take them out and transfer to a small plate.

In the same pan, add one tablespoon ghee, grated carrots, and grated apples. Fry on medium low heat until the moisture is evaporated.  Add ricotta cheese and almond powder and fry for two minutes. Add sugar, brown sugar, dates and raisins. Fry until  mixture appears dry. Mix remaining ghee and cardamom powder, stirring continuously on low heat. When the ghee starts to separate, turn the heat off and transfer the halwa onto a serving plate. Spread the halwa with a spatula. Sprinkle almonds on top. Serve hot or cold.

Makes eight servings.

Stays fresh for a week in the refrigerator.

Variation: Mix 2 cups all purpose flour, 1Tablespoon coarse soji (ravva), 1teaspoon rice flour, 1 Tablespoon oil, ¼ teaspoon salt and 3/4 cup warm water and make a stiff dough. Let it soak for an hour. Make the dough into 8 balls and roll each ball into a 13 ½” X 10 1/2” rectangle. Cut each rectangle into smaller 4 ½” long x 3 ½” wide   rectangles. Put 1 full teaspoon of carrot halwa on one end of the 4 ½ x 3½ rectangles.

Brush sides and top with a little water, roll it and close the ends. Repeat with rest of the dough.  Heat 2 cups oil in a frying pan on medium low heat and fry the rolls until light brown.


Sweet Shells

Sweet Shells

2 Cups all purpose flour

½ Teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon hot Crisco or oil

¾ Cups +1 Teaspoon warm water

2 Cups oil for deep-frying the shells.

Mix flour, salt, and hot Crisco or oil with flour in a medium bowl. Add water and mix to make stiff dough. Set aside covered for an hour.

Shape the dough into lemon size balls. Roll each ball on a cutting board or on a clean and dry counter top with palm of hand to make a one-inch diameter rope. Cut the rope crosswise into half inch pieces. Place each piece on fork press with thumb to create shell imprint on dough. Stretch dough slightly lengthwise to form into shell shape. Repeat until all the dough is finished. Keep shells separated so that they do not stick together.

Heat oil on medium heat in a frying pan and fry the shells until crisp and brown, a hand full at a time. Remove the shells from the oil with a slotted spoon on to a paper towel lined plate to cool.

Sugar Syrup

2 Cups light or dark brown sugar or white sugar or one cup brown sugar and one cup white sugar

½ Cup water

½ Teaspoon cardamom powder

1 Teaspoon home made ghee (optional)

In a wide saucepan mix sugar and water and boil syrup on medium high heat stirring continuously. Test syrup by putting a drop on a plate. It should feel thick and not runny. Remove syrup from the heat. Add cardamom powder and the ghee if using. Add fried shells. Mix quickly and thoroughly until the sugar syrup coats all the shells and no more syrup left in the bottom of the pan. Transfer shells onto a plate to cool the shells.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Note: If all the shells are fried evenly they will stay fresh and crisp for a long time in a glass jar with tight lid.

My mom used to serve this sweet on Deepavali day just before we started fire works.


Sweet Kachori

Sweet kachori dough

3 Cups all purpose flour

3 Tablespoons melted Crisco, butter or warm oil

1 pinch of salt

1 Cup warm water

1⁄2 Cup all purpose flour for dusting

Sugar syrup

2 Cups sugar

1 1⁄2 cups water


1 1/2 Cups non-fat dry milk powder

1⁄2 Cup sweetened condensed milk

1⁄2 Cup ricotta cheese

1⁄2 Teaspoon cardamom powder (elaichi)

2 Tablespoons chopped roasted cashews (optional)

1 Tablespoon chopped pistachios (optional)

2 Cups of oil for frying

1⁄4 Cup sliced almonds for decoration (optional)

In a medium mixing bowl, mix flour, Crisco and warm water to make dough; knead for few minutes. Keep the dough covered for an hour.

In a three – quart saucepan mix sugar and water. Boil the syrup for three minutes. Turn heat to low and keep it for three minutes. Turn the heat off. Keep the syrup aside until the kachories are ready

In a separate bowl mix all the filling ingredients.

Make large marble size balls with dough and dust them with all purpose flour. Roll each ball in to four -inch diameter purees. Place a tablespoon of the filling in the middle of the puree, fold it into a half circle and seal it tight so that the filling doesn’t come out when fried.

Heat oil in small frying pan and fry three or four kachories at a time in a low heat, until they become light brown and crisp. Take the kachories out of the oil and put them in the sugar syrup. Make a small hole on one side of the kachori. You can use a clean Phillips screw driver. Pour a teaspoon of syrup through the hole. Take them out of the syrup and keep them in a platter side by side. Don’t keep the kachories in syrup for too long otherwise they will become soggy. Let the left over syrup thicken and sprinkle over kachories.


Cashew laddus

Cashew laddus

2 lbs (about 4 cups) pounded cashew nuts

1 lb sugar

1/2 lb khoya

1 tbsp cardamom seeds

1 tsp essence of rose


Mix essence, cardamoms and nuts together. Melt sugar over a slow fire, add khoya and mix till smooth. Add cashew nut mixture and keep on stirring till the mixture turns thick. Remove from fire and set aside to turn cold. Form into round balls. Store in an airtight container.


Ricotta Cheese Barfi 

Ricotta cheese barfi


16-ounce ricotta cheese
½- stick unsalted butter
1-cup milk powder
½-cup sugar
½-teaspoon cardamom powder
2- sheets of silver foil

Mix ricotta cheese and butter in a microwavable container and cook in microwave for 3 minutes. After 3 minutes, stir and then cook for 3 more minutes. Then, add milk powder, cardamom powder and sugar to cheese and butter mixture. Cook for 5 minutes in the microwave. If the mix is not dry, then microwave a little longer. Once it is dry, take it out of the microwave and spread it onto a flat square plate and place silver foil on top. Finally, cut it into diamond shape.


Almond Gulab Jamun

Almond Gulab Jamuns
1 Cup non-fat dry milk powder

1/3 Cup Biquick
1/3 Cup almond powder. (Make almond powder from skinless sliced almonds in a coffee grinder.)
1 Pinch of baking soda
5 Tablespoons whipping cream (heavy cream)
2 Cups vegetable oil

For Garnish

½ Teaspoon crushed cardamom powder
Few almond flakes

For Syrup

3 Cups sugar
3 Cups water
1 Teaspoon rose water (optional)
Few saffron threads (optional)

Mix milk powder, bisquick powder, almond powder and soda. Add whipping cream. Mix until it becomes a soft dough. Keep it covered.

Meanwhile make the sugar syrup by mixing sugar and water in a two- quart size saucepan and boiling for five minutes. (Add rose water and saffron at this time if you are using.) Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 5 minutes or until it feels silky in between fingers. Syrup should not be too watery. Keep the syrup aside.

Heat oil in a small heavy frying pan (approximately seven or eight inches size) on medium low heat. Make 16 large marble size balls with dough.

Take a small piece of the dough and drop it in to the hot oil to check the oil temperature. If the small piece of the dough floats up fast that means the oil is too hot. If the oil is too hot Jamuns will be brown outside and raw inside.

Start the first batch of frying with only two or three balls. Do not over crowd the pan when frying because they will expand. Keep turning the balls to make sure they are golden brown on all sides. Remove the balls from the oil with a slotted spoon and put them in the syrup. Dip them in the sugar syrup with a separate slotted spoon. The gulab jamuns expand again in the syrup. Remove some of them carefully from the syrup to make room for others and place them in a separate pan. Combine all of them at the end and pour the syrup on top and garnish with cardamom powder and almond flakes.

Variations: Instead of bisquick you can use 1/3-cup all-purpose flour and two pinches of soda.

This became my favorite gulab jamun recipe because of the almond powder. My thanks to Vijaya Dasigi for sharing it with me. I thank Lasya Penumarthi and Sasikala Penumarthi for their help.


Nut & Sesame Seed Truffles

Diwali sweets

½ Cup sesame seeds
½ Cup cashew pieces
½ Cup almonds
½ Cup chopped dates
½ Cup fresh or frozen shredded coconut
½ Cup brown sugar or jaggery
½ Cup sweetened condensed milk
¼ Cup dry fine coconut powder or almond powder (optional)

Roast sesame seeds, cashews, almonds, each separately in a dry pan until light brown on medium low heat. Let them cool completely. Blend together sesame seeds, cashews, and almonds into coarse powder in blender. Add dates and blend until dates are chopped coarse. Add shredded coconut and brown sugar to the nut and date mixture. Blend, mixing often with a spatula or a wooden spoon when the blender is not running, until all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Transfer the nut mixture into a bowl. Add condensed milk and mix well with hand. Make 3 ½ to 4 inches diameter size balls (Truffles).

Roll truffles in the coconut powder or almond powder if using.

Makes 15 truffles.

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