Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Diwali in a Jar -- or Spiced Nuts

In the neighborhood that we live, we have a lot of Indian neighbors, and as a result invites for Indian festivities like Haldi-Kumkum, Lakshmi-puja, or Kanya puja on Ashtami are in abundance. Most of these festivals are done by the women folk, who are very open with welcoming new people into their house or sharing their home-made goodies with others. Puri-halwa-kala chana on Ashtami days, sundal and small packets of haldi-kumkum on the Lakshmi puja days and boxes and boxes of delicious sweets on Diwali are shared with much love and joy.

Now, although I celebrate Diwali with as much merriment as any other, making sweets on Diwali is not a tradition I grew up with. Very practical too, as we are done with our sweets like naru and sondesh making first for Bijoya Dashami, then Lokkhi Pujo and now we are prepping to make more for Bhai Phota. In between Diwali is when we light up candles, enjoy some fireworks, do Kali Puja and enjoy sweets gifted by other people!!!

However this year, I wanted to share some Diwali gift with my neighbors too. I had already shared Roshogolla with them for Durga Pujo and it didn't make sense for me to make more sweets. I was enjoying the besan laddos and gulab jamuns that were piling up in my house.

So I decided to gift them Diwali in a Jar!!! It all started with a 40% coupon for Michael's the craft store and the dozen Mason Jars that I brought home from there. It was to be my project for a relaxing evening. I would sip tea, watch some sitcoms and decorate mason jars. The plan was to put some Diwali trinkets and chocolates in the jar. The main focus was decorating the jars and me having a "relaxed evening". But did that happen as I planned ? No. Never does.

The moment I sat down with all the bling craft jewels and the shiny ribbons, LilSis joined me.

"I want to do one", she said. Well, so, yeah why not. She pulled away the jar from me and started sticking the jewels. I hovered around, hoping to guide. But she was doing a fabulous job anyway.

Soon BigSis came downstairs and whined, "I never get to do anything fun. All I do is homework. I want to do this too"! Oh, boy! Here goes my jar and "relaxed evening", I thought. Both the girls sat around intently decorating the jars with so much enthusiasm and artistry that I did not have the heart to ask them to stop. So they decorated all the 12 jars, and did a beautiful job of it too.

All you need to make these jars is:

1. Mason Jar
2. Variety of stick on Jewels (from Amazon or any craft store)
3. Satin Ribbons (from Amazon or any craft store)
4. Creative ideas

Meanwhile I roasted some nuts following this recipe. The only thing is I changed the spices and used all Indian spices like Bhaja Moasala and Chat masala. Once the spiced nuts were cool, we filled the jars with nuts and chocolates. These sparkling jars filled with spicy nuts and chocolates was our Diwali gift for our lovely neighbors. I am hoping they had a good time snacking.

Don't you think these would make excellent holiday gifts too? It is easy, simple and surely a keeper.

Spiced Nuts with Indian Spices

Raw Almonds -- 1 Cup
Raw Cashews -- 1/2 Cup
Raw Pecans -- 1 Cup
Pumpkin seeds -- 1/3 Cup(I didn't use any)

Bhaja Moshla -- 1.5 to 2 tsp
Red Chili Powder -- 1/2 tsp
Chat masala -- 1/2 tsp
Cajun Spice -- 1 tsp
Salt -- 1/2 tsp

Maple Syrup -- 1.5-2 tbsp

Cooking Oil -- 1 tsp to grease baking sheet and 1 tsp to toss the nuts

Bhaja Masala -- To make this toast 1 tbsp of whole Cumin seeds, 1/2 tbsp of coriander seeds, 2 dry red chilli on a skillet until fragrant. Cool and make a powder

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a big bowl add all the nuts.

Add the maple syrup and spices and salt and toss to combine. Add 1 tsp of oil and toss.

Grease a baking sheet with oil, then transfer coated nuts to baking sheet and spread evenly in 1 layer.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes, stirring once, until nuts are fragrant and lightly toasted.

Cool and fill the jars with these nuts. This measure fills a pint sized jar to about half.

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