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The Festival of Lights

Contributed by: News Canada

(NC) - Diwali, the 'Festival of Lights', marks the start of the Hindu new year and on October 25, the first of the five days of Diwali, Canada's growing Hindu community will be celebrating lavishly by lighting candles and decorating their homes with lights. Families and friends will gather for their Diwali feast and enjoy the fragrant and spicy, exotic flavours of the great Indian cuisine.

There are many colourful legends surrounding the origin and meaning of Diwali The most widely accepted is that Diwali marks the return in triumph to Ayodhya of Lord Rama after a 14-year exile and a spectacular victory over Ravana and the forces of evil.

Cooked foods are taken to the temple and offered to the Gods in the hope of their blessing during the coming year.

In India, sweets are distributed to friends and relatives, candles and oil lamps are lit to help the souls of ancestors find their way home, fireworks displays are staged and businesses distribute gifts and bonuses to loyal employees. Lakshmi, the Goddess of Prosperity, is worshipped and this is a time to enjoy the wide range of magnificent dishes that pour from the traditional Indian kitchen.

Time-honoured methods of food preparation can be time-consuming for the traditionalists who still start by grinding their own spices. But there are many short cuts available today that produce pleasantly authentic results.

Sharwood's which has been exporting its curry powders, chutneys, sauces and other Indian products to Canada for more than 100 years, has timed the introduction of three new products to coincide with the Diwali festivities:

  • Balti: a rich, tomato-based cooking sauce seasoned with coriander and fenugreek leaves. Use it to flavour chicken, beef, lamb, turkey or vegetables

  • Tandoori Makhani: a warm sauce flavoured with cardamom and cream. Use it to prepare butter chicken.

  • Naan Bread Mix: an ideal accompaniment for any of the sauces. Quick and easy to make.

These new additions to the extensive range of foods already available are an indication of Canada's growing passion for spicy, exotic foods. By following the simple directions on the containers, even the unitiated can prepare a delicious Indian meal quickly and easily.

Sharwood's, the brand leader in the huge Indian foods sector in U.K., has been a pace-setter in the Indian food sector since its chutneys and curry powders first hit the market in 1889. Today its Canadian market alone is worth $10.7 million, with sauces (23%) and breads (17%) the two largest sectors.


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