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Illuminate your inner self this Diwali

"Who looks outside dreams,Who looks inside awakes"........Carl Jung

In my home in Delhi , in the 80’s , Diwali meant school holidays, a buzz at all markets with Diwali greetings glaring at us all over the city , bags of crackers stored away for the big night and a corner kept at our home free for all the various gifts that would fill up the space in no time. My grandmother, aunt and mother would analyse each gift ,open some and pass some on ..Our home was full of laughter and excitement before Diwali…

Last week when I called my mother , and I asked her whether she was gearing up for Diwali, all she said was, “ Diwali always meant, to be with family praying together, the children’s laughter around the house and with us lighting the first lamps .It’s not the same with children away.”

" Beauty is not in the face;beauty is a light in the heart"......Kahlil Gibran

It has been a tradition in our house , that we ,the girls who are considered goddesses in the true sense , would light the first earthen lamps(diyas) at our doorway. I loved this tradition…it meant so much to me and I still send my lamp home every Diwali to be lit outside our home.The first earthen lamp (diya) at my home in Dubai is always lit by my daughter.

But this year my parents would celebrate it alone and I realized that Diwali isn’t all about the sweets, crackers or gifts …all it meant was being together as a family , illuminating each others lives by just being there for each other and celebrating the goodness in all of us.

This year I dedicate this Diwali to my Parents , Aunt and Uncle ,Grandfather , Grandmother and wonderful sisters(the godesses!) who have taught me to look within always and to try to illuminate the inner self which will shine the brightest always.......

Two days before Diwali is Dhanteras,( Dhan is wealth and teras means 13th day of the dark forthnight of the month of Kartik-October/November, as per the Hindu Calendar) when traditionally, people flock to buy utensils or gold . Goddess Lakshmi , the Goddess of wealth is worshiped for prosperity and wellbeing . Rangoli designs adorn foyers of homes and her footprints are placed outside the homes to mark her arrival.

Legend behind the Dhanteras and Naraka Chaturdashi(as in South India): An ancient legend ascribes the occasion to an interesting story about the 16 year old son of King Hima. His horoscope predicted his death by snake-bite on the fourth day of his marriage. On that particular day, his newly-wed wife did not allow him to sleep. She laid out all her ornaments and lots of gold and silver coins in a heap at the entrance of the sleeping chamber and lit lamps all over the place. Then she narrated stories and sang songs to keep her husband from falling asleep. The next day, when Yama, the god of Death, arrived at the prince’s doorstep in the guise of a Serpent, his eyes were dazzled and blinded by the brilliance of the lamps and the jewelry. Yam could not enter the Prince's chamber, so he climbed on top of the heap of gold coins and sat there the entire night listening to the stories and songs. In the morning, he silently went away. Thus, the young prince was saved from the clutches of death by the cleverness of his new bride, and the day came to be celebrated as Dhanteras. And the following days came to be called Naraka Chaturdashi ('Naraka' means hell and Chaturdashi means 14th). It is also know as ‘Yamadeepdaan’ as the ladies of the house light earthen lamps or ‘deep’ and these are kept burning throughout the night glorifying Yama, the god of Death. Since this is the night before Diwali, it is also called 'Chhhoti Diwali' or Diwali minor.

During these auspicious days, I plan to cook very special authentic food which would bring my family together onto our table bringing in lots of laughter and joy and offer it to our gods and goddesses to welcome them to my home.

My first dish is Gushtaba, a traditional Kashmiri dish of minced mutton balls in flavourful yoghurt based gravy and is served on special occasions. There are two old recipes taken from the recipe pages of Pandit Shiv Ram Raina one , which is a very simple version and the other is Shahi Goshtaba..



I kg mince mutton from Raan(leg) Salt to taste 250 gms white or unsalted butter 1 tsp cumin 1 tsp minced ginger 2 tsps garam masala ½ tsp crushed green cardamom 1 tsp coriander powder A little asafoetida water, hing paani

For the filling: A few raisins A few peas Ginger jullienes Cumin seeds Slivers of green chillies Coriander leaves Salt to taste 250 gms of ghee or oil 2 tsps kashmiri red chillies 125 gms yoghurt 2 tsps ginger powder, saunth Water

To prepare:

1. Mix the mince meat with the butter and add cumin, ginger, garam masala, cardamom, coriander powder and asafoetida water and mix very well .The mixture should be very very fine and smooth. 2. Make balls out of the mixture . Flatten each ball and place a small quantity of the filling mixture inside it. Seal the ball very well taking care that the mixture should not fall out . 3. In a pan , heat the ghee/oil. Add the chillies , water and whisked yoghurt . 4. When it starts to boil , add the minced mutton balls. When they firm up and start to turn red, add ginger powder, a little asafoetida water and add 250 ml of water. 5. Check seasoning. Keep on dum till mutton is fully cooked. 6. Sprinkle dried mint leaves and serve with hot steamed rice.

Try the more elaborate recipe!

Shahi Gushtaba


I kg minced mutton (from Raan-leg)

12 gms green cardamom

12 gms black cardamom

6 gms fennel powder

6 gms black pepper powder

3 gms cinnamon powder

½ pinch of ginger powder

1 gm of saffron

3 gms black cumin

Salt to taste

For the gravy:

1.5 l milk

125 gms ghee

4 nos. cloves

4 nos. bayleaves

4 nos. green cardamom

To prepare:

  1. Mix all the above mentioned spices with the mince meat and make balls.

  2. Heat a pan, boil the milk, ghee and other spices for the gravy.

  3. After 1 boil , add the minced meat balls and cook on a low flame

  4. When the mutton balls are cooked , there should be ½ litre of milk left .

  5. Check seasoning.

  6. Serve with steamed rice .

Wishing you all a very Happy Dhanteras with lots of prosperity in your lives..

Courtesy:Exceprts from

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