Festive Food | Moong Dal Halwa, Dark Chocolate Nut Clusters, Baklava from scratch … have a sweet Diwali

“You have to find what sparks a light in you so that you in your own way can illuminate the world.”
Oprah Winfrey

Baklava, dark chocolate nut clusters, moong dal ka halwa 1Moong Dal Halwa,  Dark Chocolate Nut Clusters, Baklava from scratch how can we not go sweet on Diwali, the festival of lights? The halwa is special. The recipe is from the very sweet, talented and humble Chef Kunal Kapur, of Indian Master Chef fame. Masterchef Kunal Kapur judged a charity cook-off between a few chosen ones from the canola India Facebook contest and a couple of food bloggers. The chosen contestants came together to cook some healthy Diwali treats, in canola oil, for the underprivileged children from the NGO – Katha.

Baklava, dark chocolate nut clusters, moong dal ka halwa With an attempt to “Lighten up Diwali” for underprivileged children, Canolainfo joined hands with Masterchef India Judge Kunal Kapur to put together an inspiring afternoon and some delectable Diwali treats.

Phase I was online: inviting all food enthusiasts to upload a recipe of an interesting Diwali treat in order to participate in the “Light Up This Diwali With Canola Oil” contest sponsored by Canolainfo. Top 3 contestants were selected/invited to attend a charity cook-off, along with a few bloggers, at Banarsidas Chandiwala Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology wherein Masterchef Kunal Kapur judged the cook-off and interacted with the contestants. All the contestants were given recipes to make, in canola oil. The best out of all – Ms. Deeba Rajpal, chosen by Chef Kapur was given a hamper from Canolainfo. This was phase II of the event.

For the last and final phase, the Diwali treats made by contestants of the cook-off, was served to children of Katha, a non-profit that promotes children’s literacy. The event concluded with the children enjoying a healthy meal cooked in canola oil, put together for them along with an interactive session with Chef Kapur.

Canola, Chef Kunal Kapur, Katha

The spirit of the season took over. My first competitive cooking competition, which initially had me on the edge. Once we got talking, time really flew by. The entire experience was amazing. From weighing ingredients, working in a very very basic kitchen with just a bunch of utensils, shared space and basic ingredients, one simple dessert recipe bought us all together. It was a sense of community. That we had the timer on for 40 minutes was challenging is a small way. None of us had ever made a moong dal halwa before, let alone in oil. This was Chef Kunals recipe. It was cooked in oil versus clarified butter, then the oil was drained off. The texture was very interesting as there was a small portion of semolina in it that added texture to the halwa.

Moong dal ka halwa Otherwise a pretty straightforward recipe, the only important thing while cooking a halwa is to give it some TLC. Patience while roasting halwa is a virtue you need to develop. Hurry it up and you might not get the prefect end result! Kunal was a gem. Interacting with everyone, dropping pearls of wisdom when needed, the key was to keep your ears and eyes open! Suddenly, there was a twist. We had to incorporate any one of each the available fruits and spices in the halwa.

moong dal ka halwa On offer were cheekus, bananas, oranges and limes. The spice box offered nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, mace, cardamom etc. I opted for orange and nutmeg, and infused the sugar syrup with a whole orange, chopped up, peels bruised and grated nutmeg. It was a beautiful halwa in the end. I loved doing it. I won first place for mine too. Happiness!!

Katha, NGO, DiwaliTime really flew by. Before we knew it , we headed for Katha, an amazing and beautifully done up school. Seeing Chef Kunal interact with the bright eyed, eager enthusiastic kids was an emotional and satisfying experience. He has a gift, a special gift. Within 10 minutes he had broken ice and had all the kids literally eating out of his hands.It was time well spent!

moong dal ka halwa It was a nice launch of the festive season. With sweet cravings arising with Diwali, it wasn’t long before I hit the sugar on fast track. It’s just once in a while that I go on a sugar overdrive. Mr PAB and the lad had been on my case for moong dal halwa.

Baklava, dark chocolate nut clusters, moong dal ka halwa So that had to be made on priority. Dark chocolate nut clusters was what I made as gifts to a few folk that I like gifting over Diwali. I enjoyed doing them a lot, packing them onto pretty white platters, finished with a hand made card from the daughter. Coco was right in the middle of everything as usual!

diwali 2013, CocoThen of course, I got bitten by a terrible bug. I had some home made phyllo left over form the Daring Baker challenge {for savoury pot pies which I still have to post}. I made the pies using homemade phyllo as the base pastry. I doubled the pastry because I have wanted to make that baklava once again.

BaklavaThe first time I had made it was for the Daring Bakers two years ago. That was a beautiful challenge, and still evokes great memories. ’twas was only when I began rolling the phyllo, that I realised I was a glutton for punishment. WHY??? It was a rather long drawn exercise, with me cursing myself all along. Yet, I DID IT!BaklavaOnce you pop the layered and cut baklava into the oven, you feel like you’ve conquered the world. Once you take it out an hour later, pour the infused honey syrup all over it, you begin to smell sweet success! Just looking at the tin the next morning, and  you realise it’s been so worth every bit of heartache and hard work! You can find the baklava recipe here, though I used a slightly different phyllo pastry recipe.

Baklava, moong dal ka halwaThe dark chocolate nut clusters are easy. They are just tempered dark couverture chocolate with nuts mixed in, then dropped in spoonfuls on butter paper and allowed to set in the fridge.

Hope you have a safe and bright diwali. Eat a lot of sweets, light up some lamps, share loads, laugh lots!

Don’t miss a post Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

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  1. Happy Diwali Deeba!

    I love this recipe. Never had this before but sounds divine! I am going to try it soon :)

  2. ERIKA says:

    Happy Diwali

    Looks like it was a fun event. Stressful I am sure connected to master chef :) Congrats on winning first prize oh and your sweet Coco looks so adorable. Do they have Master chef jr in India now as they do now in USA and Italy?

    • Hi there Erika. Thank you for stopping by. Yes we do have a junior masterchef here. It’s in season one currently. The chef on this post is one of the most popular ones on junior masterchef I hear!

  3. Beautiful photography and scrumptious food!

  4. First of all congratulations on winning the competition my friend. you are always such a creative cook. as for the baklava it is a favourite but i have never attempted my own filo.
    belllini´s last blog post ..Pumpkin Crumb Cake a Type of Torta di ZuccaMy Profile

  5. Happy Diwali Deeba! Of course you won first place – you are an amazing cook – congratulations!!! Those children are adorable – what a lovely experience…
    Selma´s last blog post ..Steamed Sea Bream “al Cartoccio”My Profile

  6. Oh yes .. I could seriously just dive into each and every one of these sweet treats. As always Deeba my dear you blow me away with your energetic and creative posts! xo
    Meeta´s last blog post ..Energizing and Inspiring: A Food Photography and Styling Workshop in AmsterdamMy Profile

  7. Your halwa look incredibly irresistible and divine! That is one fantastic treat.

    Happy Diwali!



  8. Replacing ghee with canola oil….now this is one Moong daal halwa I am dying to make and eat…beautiful clicks, Deeba. Just saw a few Doodling sketches of your daughter on FB, amazing talent she has….like mother like daughter! Keep it up. Hugs.
    Sanjeeta kk´s last blog post ..Recipe & Food Styling | Healthy Burritos with Brown Rice – Dreams are the Tiny Seeds..My Profile

  9. Lovely halwa and sinful looking Baklava :-)
    We love mung ka halwa a lot but I never tried it with semolina. Your orange twist to the recipe I will be trying soon as I love citrus flavors. Beautiful post Deeba.
    sangeeta khanna´s last blog post ..shakarkand ki rabdi | a rich pudding with sweet potatoesMy Profile

  10. Congratulations on winning first prize. All my favorite sweets on one page :-). Halwa looks AMAZING. I have never tried it with oil. Must give it a try.
    nidhi´s last blog post ..Choco mawa rollsMy Profile

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