#8 Happy Diwali, and a Cabbage Coconut Bhaji

The last week has been all about Diwali, lights and colour and preparation, sweets and Puja, oh my god lots of Puja!

Madhuri my neighbor and her mum have been cooking and preparing since monday, lots of traditional sweets and dishes, our house has been decorated with lights and colourful lanterns and i have to admit that i have been feeling very festive.

Living in London for 10 years and surrounded by many Indian communities i knew what Diwali was, but i never really celebrated it or saw the ceremonial work around it.

Being in India is a different story, the city center where we go for any shopping or errands, has filled up with lights, candles and lanterns, everyone looked very busy in the last week and the crowds have been larger than usual. Diwali eve starts with kids, who have been for the week before building and painting, massive paper puppets pretending to be the devil, these devils stop you in the middle of the road and you need to pay to get through. They also come round with drums to the front door, it’s loud and happy at the same time. at midnight the devil puppets get burnt down and the loud drums get even louder! the air is filled with smoke from incense, crackers and burning of various things.

The morning of Diwali i got to dress in a Sari and my neighbor did a blessing Puja ceremony for us and some friends that came over, we crushed Karit fruit under our toes, symbolising crushing the devil, then we had a traditional breakfast eating sweets and a spicy and sweet dish made from rice flakes.

The best for me, was a pickle made from Ambara fruit, it looks like a tiny watermelon, it’s cooked  and served as a pickle and it was sour, sweet and spicy all at once.

After breakfast Madhuri and the kids made Rangoli, drawing mandalas in the front of the house using colourful powders. We felt special and blessed to be included in this amazing celebration, it felt nothing like back in London, it felt festive and colourful.

I don’t fully understand all the rituals and i keep asking but why this and why that but learning about the culture is really amazing.

My recipe for you is a Cabbage Coconut Bhaji –  Bhaji means vegetable dish here in goa, tried it a couple of weeks ago and while chewing i was dissecting the dish, it’s become a bit of a hobby lately.

I came up with a great dish! it can be eaten on it’s own, with rice or as a cold dish more like a salad, so not a Diwali dish but a new recipe and Diwali is all about light and overcoming the evil, new beginingas and got uck, trust me this dish feels like a victory.

What you will need

  • 1 x Medium sized Cabbage sliced into thin pieces, as thin as you can
  • 2 x Spoons of olive oil
  • 1 Long red chilli chopped
  • 3 x TBSP of grated fresh coconut, if you can’t find the fresh one use dried Coconut
  • Spices: 1 x TSP mustard seeds, 1 x TSP cumin seeds, 1 x TSP coriander seeds, 1 x TSP turmeric, 1 x TSP garam masala, 1 x TSP salt
  • 2 x Limes squeezed

Lets get started

  • Using a deep pan, heat the oil and add the Mustered seeds, when they start popping, add the cumin seeds and wait for them to change colour a bit, then add the chilli and stir for a minute
  • Add all the spices and stir for 2 minutes

  • Add the cabbage and mix well, let the cabbage absorb all the spices, stir occasionally for 5 minutes

  • Add the coconut and mix for 5 minutes, letting the cabbage soften and absorb the tastes

  • Squeeze in the lime and mix for 2-3 minutes

  • Eat warm with rice or let it cool and eat as a salad later