For people like me who are away from the motherland, I find Diwali as one of the most challenging festivals to be. Your hands ache for the comforting awareness of arms that you could have touched and bodies you could have hugged today. You miss the whole travesty of buying colorful clothes, dressing up and trying to look as desi as you can possibly look. You miss the excitement of being part of something that is bigger than you, something that is enmeshed in your memories like glue.
You ruminate over the scent of a few fading diyas that would flicker away quietly in a corner. You dream about the festivities, the noise (not so much anymore), the people, the warmth and the joy that is there all around. In a country, far away, where hardly anyone knows what Diwali is, the festival is just a memory, a figment of your overly nostalgic brain that refuses to give up on the home it no longer belongs to just yet.
Today for Diwali, I am neither in the home that I have adopted or the home where my heart is. I am in a completely different land. Sitting in a starkly clean hotel room, gathering my thoughts and my wistfulness around me instead of the crisp white sheets.
I had made this “Chilled Rabri with Gajar ka halwa on Pistachio Dust” for Diwali yesterday so the husband could enjoy his Diwali (he has a major sweet tooth). And I knew before I boarded the flight that my wretched old heart will become melancholic tonight. So I did what most desi’s do, I carried the Gajar ka halwa in a small container with me in the flight.
So here I am sitting on a lonely bed in a strange country, away from everything that I want and love clinging to a bowl of warm Halwa for dear life. I am savoring each bite as slowly as I can, as the Halwa gives me company till I fall asleep. Diwali for me indeed is a night for reminiscing about the homes that I have left behind, the festivities that I longer enjoy and the people I love & miss and who hopefully love me and ache for me too. Wishing you all a very Happy Diwali. May the light in your heart be the one that helps you find your way wherever your home may be…….
Recipe – Gajar ka Halwa
Rabri – Cooking time 3 hours
2 litres full fat Milk
1 cup Sugar
Heat the Milk in an aluminium pan on a low flame and let it cook for 2 hours till it has almost reduced in quantity.
Add the Sugar and Cardamom powder and thicken the Milk a little more. The Rabri is really thickened reduced milk which tastes delicious when it is chilled.
Pistachio Dust – 5 minutes
½ cup Pistachio toasted on a pan and cooled
1 tbsp Sugar
Grind together into a powder
Place the Pistachio dust in serving glasses, add the Halwa and then a layer of the rabri. Sprinkle some more Pistachio dust and flaked Almonds. Serve chilled.