Deepavali, a sanskrit word meaning “A row of lights” is as much a festival of fun and frolic as much it stands for a deeper meaning. Celebrated as a symbolic of victory of good over evil, light over dark, knowledge over ignorance, it signifies freedom for the mind from the clutter of dark thoughts and spiritual illumination for the soul.
While in North India, it is celebrated to commemorate Lord Rama’s return with Seetha after his triumph over Ravana, the ten headed wicked demon who abducted her, Deepavali in many parts of South India is mostly celebrated over three days for different legendary reasons. The first day is Naraka Chathurdashi on the 14th day of the Hindu month to celebrate the victory of lord Krishna over the mighty demon, Narakasura. The second day is Lakshmi Pooja on Amavaasya (New moon day) to celebrate the rebirth of goddess Lakshmi during Samudra Manthan (churning of the ocean of milk) and lastly the third day, Bali Paadyami on Paadya (first day of the month) to celebrate the victory of Lord Vishnu incarnated as a dwarf (vaamana in Dashaavataara) over the demon king, Bali when he was pushed to Paathaala, the netherworld.
Sitting miles away from home in front of the laptop, typing this post away, what I miss the most are the nuances of the festival that made it so special throughout my childhood and adolescent years.
Typically, the evening before Deepavali known as Neeru tumbo habba (literally translates to Water filling festival), bathrooms would be cleaned to a shine and decorated with flowers and rangoli and water be stocked up in as many huge containers and cauldrons as possible in preparation for the next morning’s Abhyanga Snana (full body oil bath). A huge copper cauldron full of boiling hot water heated through the night awaited us at 4:00 in the morning. After a customary Enne Shastra the “oil ritual”, a full body oil massage followed ending with an almost scalding hot water bath with Shikakai and besan only as soap. Dressed in brand new clothes smeared with a pinch of turmeric for auspices, mouth full of sweets, a lit incense stick in one hand and a favorite fire crackers in the other, rushing out the door to be the first on the street to burst them almost always make up the first of the mental pictures of my flashbacks of this day..
Today, I cannot help but recount and hope that I can relive those beautiful memories when my little girl gets to enjoy the simple richness of that experience some day..
Traditionally, Gulab Jamun and Vella Kozhukattai for sweets and Paruppu Urundai and Khara Sevai for savory have been the norm since childhood.
Food experiences make up for most of our nostalgic memories and as much as I miss celebrating the traditional way, being here in the US, I felt it was appropriate to celebrate fall and the festival of lights together in one! And Pumpkin Halwa has got to be one of the simpler sweet recipes calling for just five ingredients and the best way to do exactly that..
I wasn’t too fond of Pumpkin until my foray into blogging, when holiday recipes such as this Pumpkin Pie lured me into opening my mind and broadening my cooking/baking horizon. Since then, I haven’t looked back much when it comes to this sunset-orange autumn vegetable.
None could tell there was pumpkin in this delicious Pumpkin Halwa, even when they were certain that a vegetable was in there! I was quite pleasantly surprised myself with how instantly I fell in love with its mild taste, daintily sweet enough to satisfy my sweet tooth!
The recipe is so simple and unassuming that it might quickly become a part of your culinary repertoire without your knowledge. Just give it that first chance.
Wish you a Happy and Wonderful Deepavali!
May this Deepavali brighten your lives with much joy, bliss, love, peace and serenity..
(makes about 9 – 1 oz cups)
- 4 tiny pumpkins or 1-1/2 cups cooked pumpkin pulp
- 1/2 can fat free sweetened condensed milk*
- pinch of saffron
- 1-2 tbsp ghee
- skinned pumpkin seeds for garnish
* (1 can = 14 oz or 396 g) I use Borden – Eagle brand
How it’s done:
Wash and cut the tiny pumpkins in half, remove the seeds and pith and microwave cut side up for 5-6 minutes or until soft. Do not add any water. Let cool and scoop out the cooked pulp with a curved spoon. Mash this pulp for uniform consistency.
Heat ghee in a thick bottom pan on medium. Sauté mashed pumpkin for 10 mins or until rawness subsides. Add condensed milk and crush saffron between your fingertips into it. Cook stirring well intermittently until the Halwa comes together as one mass away from all sides of the pan or about 20 mins. Switch off and let cool. Take care to not let the halwa burn or brown.
To roast the pumpkin seeds, microwave on a plate for 2 mins in 30 sec intervals, shuffling them in between. Alternatively dry roast on a pan on low heat until fragrant.
Serve warm or cold garnished with roasted pumpkin seeds.
If you can’t find tiny pumpkins, use the slightly bigger sugar pumpkins, they are also pulpier. Store bought pumpkin puree can also be used. It might take a little longer to cook as it has more moisture content.
Do not leave the stove to attend to other things or the Halwa can get burnt in a jiffy. Stirring intermittently is an important thing to do.
If you are not a big fan of pumpkin seeds, feel free to use a garnish of your choice. I don’t see why ghee fried or roasted and slivered cashews, pistachios or almonds won’t go well.
If you don’t have ghee, substitute with butter. Whatever happens, please don’t use oil.
Did you just read my mind ?!! Seriously i was thinking of something on the same line and because husband doesn;t like pumpkin i made gajar halwa 🙂
LOVE the photos .. the styling .. just toooooo good!
Looks great! A very happy DeepavaLi to you too!
Baker Street says
wow! pumpkin halwa is something i’ve never tried! i usually make gajar halwa! absolutely love your styling and pictures!
Jennifer (Delicieux) says
Happy Deepavali to you Radhika!!! What beautiful memories you have. Thank you for sharing them.
What beautiful photos and I love the baby pumpkins. So cute!!! I don’t think I’ve ever seen tiny ones like that here.
Hari Chandana says
Wowww…. looks absolutely delicious and perfect.. love the presentation too.. gr8 clicks dear 🙂
What beautiful photographs! Absolutely stunning.
I hope you and your family has a joyous and prosperous Deepavali!
Pumpkin Halwa!! I almost started making it this morning since this would be my first time making or eating a pumpkin halwa. I had one tiny little acorn squash and after i peeled and sliced it, i realized it would make only a few spoons of it. So I changed my plans and roasted the squash with sunflower seeds 🙂 pretty pics and I love that one where the pumpkin sit on the edge against the white!
Yummy looking halwa…Happy diwali!
Lovely writeup Radhika. It brought back memories of all the festival back home.
The pictures are gorgeous and I loved the picture of the Pumpkins with the white background! Simply superb! Happy Deepavali again! 🙂
chinmayie @ love food eat says
Halwa looks great! Love the styling and colours 🙂
Happy Diwali sweetie! Hope you had a wonderful time with family and friends. Those pictures are so colorful and gorgeous, especially loved those tiny pumpkin shots and the one in the blue cloth. Hmm, I’d love to taste this pumpkin flavored halwa, sounds yum!
the halwa looks super pretty!
a spoonful of yumm says
happy deepavali ! love all the traditions explained…unique idea for halwa 🙂
Heidi / foodiecrush says
Happy Deepavali, your photos are looking gorgeous and this recipe looks so easy, and tasty too. How can you go wrong with sweetened condensed milk? Hope you and your family are doing well.
Wow ! The halwa looks delicious and the photos are amazing!! Belated Happy Diwali to you!!
Yummy Morsel says
Halwa looks delightful. Love the clicks.
Happy Diwali Radhika..Yummy looking Halwa and neat presentation…Absolutely stunning clicks!!
Kathleen Richardson says
Such as simple Halwa recipe and I’ll bet it melts in your mouth. Love your pictures: beautiful colors and lovely set-ups. I’m so impressed that I’ve added a link to your site on my food blog.
the photographs are absolute stunners, radhika! and the sweetness of your memories of deepavali in india made me smile. the little things we all miss the most.
awesome! Love the background in the first pic..stunning!
Judy Balan says
I’m so sorry I deleted your comment on my blog by accident. Was playing with my new phone and hit the reject button instead of publish 😐 – Judy
Beautiful post!! Luv the idea of pumpkin halwa.. Will def try it!
Kiran @ KiranTarun.com says
I agree with you on oil – not a great substitute for anything that delicious 🙂
Hope you had a Happy & Prosperous Diwali 🙂
now these look absolutely lovely! I wish I could reach out for one serve.
Lovely pictures, Radhika!
Stunning pictures, especially of the little pumpkins against the light. I must find a way to make these vegan. They look so tasty!
I like how you put the halva in molds- much nicer than just cutting into squares!
Almost identical memories of Deepavali, back home. Made me nostalgic. Lovely photos and beautiful write up. Going to try the Halwa recipe, though, Deepavali is far away.
Radhika @ Just Homemade says
Veena, glad it brought back memories of festivities at home. What we miss the most perhaps is our childhood!
Surely do try and share your feedback.