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Veggiecurean Newsletter Vol. 5 — October 2019

Happy Diwali

Diwali, a festival of lights, is the most celebrated Hindu festival across India, much like Christmas in the western world.

Diwali commemorates the return of Lord Rama to his kingdom, Ayodhya, after an exile period of fourteen years. The people of Ayodhya lit the city brightly and welcomed Rama, his brother Lakshman, and his wife Sita with firecrackers.

In order to invite and welcome the Hindu Goddess Lakshmi into their homes, people light clay lamps called ‘diyas.’ Her arrival signifies the arrival of prosperity.  The Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha are worshiped on this day as they are believed to bring good luck, prosperity, and wealth.

There are several other stories behind Diwali, and these vary across India’s diverse regions and ethnicities. However, all of these stories share a common thread: they celebrate the innate goodness in everyone, as well as the victory of good over evil. People dress up in festive traditional garb, light diyas inside and outside their homes, participate in prayers, light fireworks, and exchange gifts.  They also get together with friends and family and feast on Indian food and mithai (Indian sweets).

Diwali is celebrated over five days, and each day has its own significance:

The first day (October 25 of this year) is known as Dhanteras, and it is dedicated to prosperity.  Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped on this day, and the custom is to purchase something precious, traditionally something made out of gold.

The second day (October 26) is known as Naraka Chaturdasi, or Chhoti Diwali (small Diwali). Goddess Kali and Lord Krishna are believed to have destroyed the demon Narakasura on this day. Demon effigies are burned in celebration.

The third day (October 27) is known as Amavasya. This day is the new moon, and thus the darkest day of the month.  In northern and western India, it is the most significant day of the Diwali festival. Lakshmi is  worshiped on this day, with a special puja performed in the evening.

The fourth day (October 28) has varying significance across India. In north India, Govardhan Puja is celebrated as the day when Lord Krishna defeated Indra, the god of thunder and rain. In Gujarat, it’s celebrated as the start of a new year. In Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, the victory of Lord Vishnu over the demon king Bali is celebrated as Bali Pratipada or Bali Padyami.

The fifth day (October 29) is known as Bhai Duj. It is dedicated to celebrating sisters, in a similar way that Raksha Bandhan is dedicated to appreciating brothers. Brothers and sisters get together and share treats in order to honor the bond between them.

Below are some of my favorite plant-based treat and sweet recipes, to help you celebrate this Diwali with your friends and family.

From my home to your home, wishing you a happy and prosperous Diwali and Happy New Year!

–Shikha, Veggiecurean


Carrot Halwa Trifle is a modern take on a traditional Indian dessert. Make this easy carrot halwa trifle ahead of time to impress your friends and family.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4

Carrot Halwa

  • 2 teaspoons safflower oil
  • 3 tablespoons
  • raw cashews (chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons raisins
  • 2 tablespoons pistachios (chopped)
  • 21/2 cups carrots (grated)
  • 1/4 cup coarsely ground cashews
  • 11/4 cup cashew milk*
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 3 tablespoons vegan butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon
  • ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 2 strands saffron

Coconut Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup vegan cream cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean (split and seeds scraped)
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  •  1 teaspoon guar gum


  • 1 cup ground pistachios

Carrot Halwa

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the cashews and cook until lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Add the raisins and pistachios and cook until the raisins swell up, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Add the grated carrots to the skillet and cook them for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the ground cashews and cashew milk and mix well. Reduce the heat to low-medium and cook for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Add coconut sugar, vegan butter, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and saffron, mixing well. Cook for another 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until all of the cashew milk has almost been absorbed.
  4. Serve warm or chilled.

*Soak 1 cup raw cashews in hot water for 15 minutes (cashews can be soaked in room temperature water for two hours or overnight as well – whatever works for your schedule). Drain and rinse. Add cashews to the blender with 3 cups of water. Blend starting on low speed and increasing to high until smooth and frothy, about 40 seconds. Store in a lidded container for up to three days.

Coconut Whipped Cream

  1. In a large bowl, mix vegan cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla with a handheld mixer until creamy. Set aside.
  2. In another large bowl, whip coconut cream and gum until stiff, then carefully fold in vegan cream cheese.
  3. Chill for at least 30 minutes before using, as it will firm up a bit.


  1. Prepare 4 tall glasses- add a few scoops of the vegan carrot halwa mixture and press it down a little, top with ground pistachios and with coconut frosting. Repeat until the glasses are full.
  2. The carrot halwa trifle must be stored in the refrigerator and will stay good for 3-4 days.



Healthy, plant-based, gluten-free, and easy to make – this festive Indian dessert is truly a crowd-pleaser, loved by all ages.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Serving: 10


  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 1/4 cup almonds (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup cocoa butter (melted)
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 8 strands of saffron
  • pinch of nutmeg powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 tablespoons coconut milk (or another dairy-free milk)
  1. Add the chickpea flour to a large pan and dry roast it for 5 minutes on low heat, stirring once or twice
  2. Turn up the heat to medium and add almonds, coconut, and cocoa butter, mixing well and roasting it for 10-15 minutes. Turn off the heat.
  3. Add the coconut sugar, cardamom powder, saffron, nutmeg, and salt. Sprinkle coconut milk into the mixture and mix well. If the mixture doesn’t come together, add a few more drops.
  4. Let it cool, and make 1-inch balls from the mixture.
  5. Press crushed cashew and raisins on top.


Vegan Burfi, a quick, simple and healthy Indian dessert of any festival or celebration.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 10


Sugar Syrup:

  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 4 strands of saffron

Semolina (cream of wheat):

  • 1 cup semolina flour
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup almonds (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup pistachios (chopped)
  • pinch of salt


Sugar Syrup:

  1. In a small pot over medium heat, add coconut sugar, water, ground cardamom, and saffron, mixing until it comes together and there are no clumps.


  1. In a large pan, dry roast the semolina on medium-low heat for 6-8 minutes until it gets fragrant.
  2. Add the coconut flour, coconut oil, almonds, pistachios, and salt to the pan, mixing well and roasting it for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the prepared sugar syrup to the large pan and mix well to form a lumpy mixture. Take it off the heat.
  4. To make burfi: When it’s still hot, press the mixture immediately into a parchment-lined baking pan (8×8) and set it in the refrigerator for an hour.
  5. Cut the refrigerated mixture into 2×2 bars.


Click to Print All 3 Recipes!