Diwali is the biggest holiday in India, a week-long festival of food and fireworks — two things that bridge a lot of cultural divides. Despite being a holiday of Hindu origins, Indians of all backgrounds celebrate Diwali, and the White House has celebrated it every year since 2003, with President Obama continuing a tradition started by President Bush.
Sharing homemade foods is something everyone will do for Diwali. You may also see homes lit up with oil lamps, called diyas
, in the evenings, and people making rangoli
, which are patterns created with colored sand, like Tibetan Mandalas.
Date nut slices are a childhood favorite of mine, perfect for cooler weather. My family made them in winter and especially for Diwali. They are a good last-minute treat if you are looking for a healthy snack, as they are quick to make and kids love them. My recipe does not use processed sugar, and it is grain-free and dairy-free, if you replace the ghee.
This sweet is also a variation of what many Muslims in South Asia and the Middle East make for Ramadan and Eid. Try making date nut slices as a healthy alternative or in addition to your holiday fudge and cookies!
Date Nut Slices Recipe
- 2 teaspoons ghee (clarified butter; for a vegan version, use a light cooking oil)
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 3 cups pitted dates, roughly chopped
- ½ cup raw cashews, small pieces
- ½ cup raw almonds, small pieces
- ½ cup raw pistachios, small pieces
- Finely ground pistachios or shredded coconut, to coat
1. In a heavy-bottom saucepan, heat a teaspoon of the ghee or oil on low heat.
2. Toast all the nuts until they are lightly browned.
3. Mix ground cardamom in the toasted nuts and remove from pan.
4. Heat the second teaspoon of ghee or oil in the same pan, and cook the chopped dates, stirring for 7-10 minutes, until pieces melt down into a soft pulp.
5. Add the nuts back in and incorporate evenly into the dates. Turn off the heat.
6. Move the date mixture quickly to a sheet of parchment paper while still warm, and shape into a log using the paper. A sushi mat around the parchment works very well to shape a nice, even log.
7. Spread ground pistachios or shredded coconut in a baking tray. Take the date log out of the parchment and roll it in the ground pistachios to coat evenly.
8. Refrigerate the date log for about an hour, then cut slices as thick as you like with a serrated knife. Store your date nut slices in an airtight container in a cool place, for up to a few weeks.
Yield: 2 dozen slices