Your favourite recipes get a makeover this Diwali. Picture: IANS
Your favourite recipes get a makeover this Diwali. Picture: IANS

The modern takes on traditional Diwali cuisine and recipes

By Sacha van Niekerk Time of article published Nov 2, 2021

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Celebrate Diwali with fusion sweetmeats and desserts that borrow inspiration and technique from various cultures, with deliciously modern twists.

Soaked in spice-infused syrups, brightly coloured and beautifully moulded, Mithai, or sweetmeats, are confectioneries of the Indian subcontinent.

Their origin has been traced to at least 500 BCE, when records suggest raw sugar and refined sugar were being produced. While many of the recipes have been handed down from past generations and are hundreds of years old, in recent years they have seen some major transformations, most of which are occurring on social media.

With aesthetics being one of the most important aspects of what makes food “Instagram worthy”, it’s no surprise that main changes are to the appearance. Food bloggers, professional chefs and even home cooks have been posting their dishes on content-sharing platforms that place emphasis on visuals, drawing people in and inspiring them to experiment with new flavours and techniques.

In the social media era, we’ve seen the mouth-watering delights transformed with contemporary twists and fusions from popular dishes traversing a diverse range of cultures. The creations veer on the verge of complete innovation but stay true to tradition by highlighting the unique taste of the well-loved treats.

Bharti Sanghi, the founder of Life Artisanal Food, shared her insight on the growing trend: “With time, traditional Indian sweets have also seen some changes, with the addition of a little modernity – read ‘fusion mithais’. Not just the taste but also its presentation, techniques, plating style and so on add to this concept of ‘fusion mithais’.”

Contemporary fusion desserts to try this Diwali:

Gulab Jamun trifle

By @thetableofspice

Picture: @thetableofspice on Instagram.

Vanilla whipped cream

500g heavy whipping cream

½ tbs vanilla extract

1 cup (250ml) powered sugar

Biscoff crumble

500g biscoff cookies

¼ cup butter melted

Gulab Jamun

15-20 gulab jamun store bought or home-made


Vanilla whipped cream

In a Blendtec or vitimix, add the heavy whipping cream, vanilla extract and powdered sugar. Mix/blend until you have a thick, whipped consistency. You can use a stand mixer as well.

Biscoff crumble

In a food processor, add the biscoff cookies and pulse a couple of times until you start seeing a texture like fine sand. Transfer into a bowl and add the melted butter, mix until everything is well incorporated.


In small cups, layer the biscoff crumbles on the bottom, followed by vanilla whipped cream and small pieces of gulab jamun. Keep repeating until the cup is filled.Top with a gulab jamun and sprinkle on some cookie crumbles. You can add chopped pistachio for garnish as well.

Shrikhand cannolis

By @thetableofspice

Picture: @thetableofspice on Instagram.


12 cannoli shells or 24 mini

450g ricotta cheese

1 cup powder sugar

6 saffron strands

½ tsp cardamom powder

2 tbs almond, silvers or finely chopped

2 tbs pistachio, silvers or finely chopped


In a large bow,l combine the drained ricotta cheese, sugar, saffron strands and cardamom powder. Using a stand mixer/electric mixer, or even a whisk, mix everything together, until the ricotta is light and airy, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Fold in the chopped almonds and pistachio, and give everything a good mix.

Transfer the mixture into a piping bag or Ziploc bag, if using a Ziploc bag, cut a medium-size hole. Make sure the hole you cut it big enough, so the almonds and pistachio don't get stuck.

Putting slight pressure on the piping bag, insert the tip of the piping bag into the cannoli shell. As you squeeze the piping bag, the cannoli will fill quickly, so don't apply to much pressure.

Optional: Dip the sides of the cannolis into some chopped pistachio and almonds. I also used dried rose petals for a extra fancy touch. You can also sprinkle with extra powder sugar on top before serving.

Mango lassi popsicles

By @cookwith_harsha

Picture: @cookwith_harsha on Instagram.


2 cups full-fat Greek yoghurt

¾ cup mango purée

2 tbs honey or any other sweetener of your choice

¾ strands saffron dissolved in 1 tbs hot milk (optional)

crushed pistachios to garnish


Blend everything together to form a smooth mixture. Taste and adjust the sweetness according to taste.

Transfer to popsicle moulds and freeze until set. Once set, garnish with pistachios and serve.

Tres leches soji cake

By @naliyani

Picture: @naliyani on Instagram.



1 cup (250ml) self-raising flour

1 cup desiccated coconut

1 cup Taystee Wheat

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

4 tbs butter or margarine

½ tsp vanilla essence

½ tsp egg yellow food colouring

1/4 tsp cardamom powder

1 cup of milk to combine n mix ingredients

Milk Mixture

1 can evaporated milk

1 can sweetened condensed milk

250ml fresh cream


Melt the butter. Add the sugar and eggs, and whisk until creamy.

Add the flour, coconut, Taystee Wheat, and mix well.

Add the vanilla essence, food colouring and cardamom, and stir well, until the mixture is thick and creamy.

Add the milk gradually to combine all the ingredients.

Spray a baking pan with non-stick spray.

Pour the mixture into the baking pan.

Bake on 160 to 180ºC degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, or until baked.

Allow the cake to cool for 15 minutes.

Combine the condensed milk, evaporated milk and ¼ cup fresh cream in a small bowl.

Pierce the cake surface with a fork several times. Slowly drizzle the mixture, leaving 1 cup of the milk mixture aside. Allow the cake to absorb the milk mixture for 30 minutes.

Whip the remaining fresh cream and, 2 tablespoons of sugar, until thick enough to pipe onto the cake.

Decorate with almonds and pistachio.

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