Time to Sparkle – Vegan Recipes for Diwali – Part 1

Diwali is around the corner, that usually means lights, gifts and lots and lots of yummy food
and sweets. Most Indian homes celebrate by coming together, bonding and (over) indulging
in a large spread of sweet and savoury dishes. Being plant-based doesn’t need to put a
damper on your celebrations. Here are a few recipes you can add to your list for a healthier,
happier festive season.

Vegan Barfi

First off on my list is always the sweet. Typically barfi recipes call for either milk or ghee.
Here we’re going to swap it out for coconut oil and cashew cream.

● 1 cup almond flour – superfine
● 1 cup raw cashews – finely powdered
● 1 cup sugar
● ½ cup water
● 1 tsp green cardamom powder
● 1 tbsp coconut oil
● 2 tbsp nuts – chopper for garnish (optional)
● 2 tbsp cashew cream (made by blending 2 tablespoon cashews into a very smooth
paste with 2 tablespoon water)


  1. Place the water and sugar in a heavy-bottomed wok or skillet (non-stick works best
    for this). Add the cardamom and let it come to a boil.
  2. Turn the heat to low or medium-low. Add the cashew flour and almond flour and mix.
    Continue stirring at very frequent intervals, making sure your flour is not sticking to
    the bottom. If it is, scrape it up right away.
  3. Within a few minutes, the mixture will begin to pull off the sides and bottom of the
    pan. Add the coconut oil at this point. The mixture will be quite translucent and sticky
    at this stage, which will make stirring it a bit of a pain, but persist. Since stoves vary,
    you might want to turn up your heat just a teeny bit if this is taking too long, but
    around 12-15 minutes after you begin cooking, the mixture should turn opaque and
    dry (meaning it won’t be sticky anymore). If you make a ball, it should hold together.
    Turn off the heat at this point and remove the mixture to a bowl.
  4. As soon as you can handle the dough, knead it into a smooth ball. I like kneading a
    little cashew cream into the mixture at this time because it just makes the barfi softer,
    which I love. You can skip this step.
  5. Lay a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet or a flat baking pan. Pat out the
    barfi mixture on it in an even layer, about six inches square (or thinner, if you want
    thinner barfis). Press the sides to make them as even as possible.
  6. Press some nuts for garnish on the top and let the barfi cool completely. When cool,
    cut the barfi into pieces. The barfi will store in the refrigerator for at least a week.

Vegan Kaju Katli

One of the most popular Indian sweets, Kaju Katli is probably the easiest to make vegan.
The only dairy ingredient – ghee is used for flavour and greasing which can be easily
replaced with vegetable oil without losing any of its deliciousness. However this sweet isn’t
the easiest to make and requires a bit of work to perfect it.

● 1 cup cashews – finely powdered
● ½ cup sugar
● ¼ cup water
● ½ tsp ground cardamom
● ¼ tsp saffron
● ⅓ tsp vegetable oil


  1. Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and let it come to a boil. Lower the heat to
    simmer, add the cardamom and saffron, and let the syrup cook for about five
    minutes. Check it regularly to see if it has achieved a one-thread consistency. What
    this means is that when you place a drop of the hot sugar syrup on the tip of your
    thumb (don’t burn yourself) and touch the tip of your forefinger to it, the syrup should
    pull up in a short thread as you separate the thumb and forefinger. If that is too
    complicated just get yourself a candy thermometer and take the syrup off the heat
    when the temperature reaches 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Heat a nonstick saucepan over low heat. Add the cashew powder and cook, stirring,
    about two minutes or until it is warmed through. Then add the sugar syrup to it. Turn
    off the heat and mix well. The mixture will start pulling away from the sides of the
  3. At this point, empty the cashew paste on a clean surface, rub some oil on your palms
    and fingers, and knead the paste a few times until it looks really smooth.
  4. Pat the cashew paste into a greased plate or tray and spread it evenly. The layer
    should be about a quarter of an inch thick.
  5. Set the plate aside to cool completely, then cut into diamond shapes, the way Kaju
    Katli is always cut.

Coconut Ladoo

Because Diwali isn’t complete without ladoo!

● 2 cups (186 ml) unsweetened shredded coconut dried
● seeds from 4 to 5 cardamom pods
● 1/3 cup (75.33 ml) full fat coconut milk
● 2 tsp coconut oil
● 2/3 cup (157.73 g) ground raw sugar or jaggery use a Tbsp less for less
● a pinch of salt
● 2 tbsp coconut flour


  1. Grind or blend 2 cups coconut flakes in a blender or processor to make small
    powdery flakes. Blend a few short cycles, move the coconut around and pulse more
    to avoid making coconut butter. Pound the cardamom seeds in a mortar and pestle to
    break into a coarse mixture and mix with the coconut.
  2. Heat the coconut milk in a small skillet at medium heat. Add oil, sugar and salt and
    mix in. Bring the mixture to a bubbling boil (about 4 mins). continue to boil for another
    4 minutes or until the mixture can form a half thread. (220 to 225 deg F temperature).
    Take off heat.
  3. Immediately add 1.5 cups of the shredded coconut and cardamom and mix in. Add
    the coconut flour and mix in. If the mixture appears too wet, let it cool for a minute,
    Then add more shredded coconut 2 Tbsp at a time. Do not add more than 4 Tbsp
    else the laddoos will be dryer. The mixture becomes less wet as it cools. Let the
    mixture cool for 2 minutes then shape into balls by picking up 1 to 2 Tbsp of the
    mixture, pressing and shaping with one hand. Roll the ball in the remaining shredded
    coconut and serve. Cool completely before storing. Store in an airtight container on
    the counter for upto 3 days or refrigerated for a week.
    Note: Do not wait too long to shape the laddoos, as the mixture hardens as it cools.If you are
    not fond of cardamom, use other flavours like cinnamon or saffron.Use more shredded
    coconut if you do not have coconut flour.
    Now for the savoury portion of the festivities…