Diwalis of my childhood were simple and yet full of joy and celebration. Mother would begin making huge Britannia biscuit tins full of namkeens like murukku, mixture, burfis, laddoos and more. We really needed huge quantities, what with all of us at home and the neighbours and friends to share it all with. Friends would drop in for days after the festival and to be plied with the sweets and namkeens along with tea or coffee.
On the day of Diwali, along with the spread of all the goodies in front of the puja, there would be one small container with a dark brown halwa-like stuff. Did I say halwa? Well, only the consistency would be like that delectable dish. You see, it was a digestive that we had to eat to keep our stomach out of harm what with all the sweets and namkeens that we would be consuming for days.
After the customary oil bath, mother would give us a token piece of some sweet and then insist that we ate a gooseberry-sized ball of that ‘halwa’. Only then would we get the other goodies! Incidentally, my boys didn’t much like it either. Guess it is hereditary!
Well, age brings us wisdom, or so they say. It did to me, at least as far as this digestive was concerned, as I began appreciating and then actually liking it with age.
Though it is called ‘Deepavali marundu’ (medicine), it can be made and consumed any time. In fact, many houses stock the powder in the fridge and prepare it when needed. It is also commercially available, though it is not a patch on what we make at home.
Try it out this Diwali and keep your digestive systems healthy, even as you gorge on the sweets and namkeens.
- Ajwain (carom seeds) – 1 tbsp
- Jeera (cumin seeds) – 1 tbsp
- Peppercorns – 1 tsp
- Dhania (Coriander seeds) – 1 tbsp
- Dry ginger powder – 1 tsp
- Long pepper (Lendi Pippali) – 6-8
- Badi elaichi – 1
- Mulethi (licorice) – a small piece (or 1/2 tsp mulethi powder)
- Jaggery (Powdered) – About the same quantity of the powder mix or a little more, if you want it sweeter.
- Ghee – 1 tbsp
Note: Long pepper is usually available in old city markets or stores that sell herbs). Don’t fret if you can’t find it. I have added a little more pepper as I like it a little hot. You can reduce it if you want.
- Dry roast the ingredients lightly till they emit aroma. Crush the mulethi before roasting. Don’t roast till they change colour.
- Use the ginger powder as it is, adding it to the still hot spices in the end.
- Grind to a fine powder.
- Measure the powder and take the same quantity of jaggery.
- In a small kadhai, add 1-2 tsp of water to cover the jaggery. Once the jaggery comes to a rolling boil, add the powder and keep stirring till it all comes together.
- Add the ghee and stir well till the mixture reaches halwa consistency. Don’t cook too much as it would harden to a lump.
- Remove from fire, cool and store.
- And don’t forget to eat a spoonful the first thing on Diwali day!
- If you use mulethi powder, use it along with ginger powder without roasting it.
- If the mixture hardens a little bit, don’t worry. Make small balls of the halwa using a little ghee. You can pop one whenever your stomach is in distress.