Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Diwali Festival

Over the weekend we went to a wonderful festival at the George Washington Carver Museum called Celebrate Me! India. It was held in honor of the recent Hindu holiday Diwali (also know as the festival of lights). Diwali is a 5 day festival that happens each year in October or November. It celebrates the return of Lord Rama after a 14 year exile. It is also the celebration of the lunar new year.
My older daughter and I started keeping a cultural scrapbook about a year ago. We would study a country and do crafts, cultural activities and make food from each country. Now that my younger daughter is old enough to enjoy it we have picked it up again. We had been studying India for a couple of weeks and it was the perfect ending to the unit. There were plenty of kid and adult friendly activities to do... and it really added color to something that we had only glimpsed online or in books.

There were musical groups on hand that played traditional instruments such as the sitar and harmonium. There was even a workshop on playing the Tabla Drums.

There were fun crafts available for the kids...and they had a friendly bunch of volunteers to help the kids out. They made bracelets, elephant masks, and they even had some fun coloring Diwali themed pictures.

They had traditional Indian garments available and there were woman there who would instruct you on the proper way to wrap a Sari.

If you wanted a chance to get moving...there was a yoga class for the kids... and a Bollywood shake class that was fun for all ages.

There was a "hands on" Henna demonstration... Kids and adults were encouraged to get inked... My daughters were so in love with this part of the experience that we were inspired to go out and get our own henna and try it out at home.

The elegant Anuradha Naimpally presented myths of India first in words and then in dance. I think that this was my favorite part of the festival. After her performance some of her dance students performed both traditional and modern dance styles.

And last... but certainly not least... you could try a few Indian dishes. They had lamb meatballs, spinach pakora, samosas, and chai on hand to sample. I love Indian food... but my daughters were not terribly fond of what they tried. We are going to make Tandoori chicken, rice and a lentil dish later in the week so they can try again. We are also planning on making a yogurt drink called a Lussi or Lassi today after school. I will post these recipes and photos when we do.... but until then I will leave you with a basic curry sauce recipe that is similar to the one that they cooked the lamb meatballs in for the festival.

Classic Curry Sauce

This sauce is great... you can use it for just about anything. I use it as a sauce for my koftas (these are made of veggies, chickpea flour and sometimes cheese...and are a bit like American dumplings) . It is also a good base to simmer veggies or meats.

5 Large cloves garlic
1 1-inch piece of ginger peeled
1 large onion cut into 6 wedges
1 large tomato - or one can of tomatoes
1/2 cup cilantro
3 T. oil
2 T. curry powder or all-purpose garam masala
2 tsp.cumin
1/2 tsp tumeric
salt to taste
1/2 cup yogurt
4 cups water
1/2 tsp. garam masala

In food processor with S-blade (or blender), process garlic, ginger and onions. Heat oil and cook mixture until brown. Process tomatoes and cilantro and add to the onion mixture. Increase heat and cook until liquid evaporates. Stir in spices and cook 2-3 min. more... add yogurt a little at a time to prevent curdling. Add water and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 min. At this point add chopped veggies for a vegetable curry... or cook 15-20 min. to make a sauce for the koftas.


  1. It's a massively popular festival here in the UK. We do of course have some of the best curry houses and Birmingham is apparently the curry capital of the world but I really like your recipe and willl give it a try. Lovely photos too.

  2. I would love to visit the curry houses of the UK. mmmmmmmm

  3. I love this! Never heard of it before but adding it to next year's curriculum. Thanks. Visiting from Hump Day!

  4. A few years back my husband and took a cooking class with the Indian Chef Suvir Saran. He has a book that I really like. It's title is Indian Home Cooking. Here is his website, if you're interested: http://www.suvir.com/ -[Ava, Maggie the dog's Lady]



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