Diwali might look a little different this year, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still be extra special. We’ve teamed up with Great British Bake Off star Antony Amourdoux for his tips on creative celebrations, from his own original recipes to putting together gifting hampers of his favourite Lidl products.
Born in Pondicherry, Antony’s baking has been influenced by his hometown and his father’s love of spices - particularly around Diwali. He said: “Back home in India, Diwali was a really special time for us, as neighbours and friends filled your belly with sweet treats and lovely party spreads and the streets were filled with children lighting up fireworks for the Festival of Lights – such a happy scene. Little lamps lit the streets and the smells of spices and sweets from kitchen brought a really warm feeling.
This year, I’m partnering with Lidl to bring you some sweet bakes for Diwali, and the recipes I’ve created will give you that same warm feeling, colour and spice as I remember from my childhood.”
Colour, colour, colour: From Holi festival to vibrant sarees, bright colours are important in South Asian culture. Make your hamper look and feel extra special by using lots of vibrant colours. Brightly coloured fruits are an easy way of adding colour, and make sure you line the hamper with brightly coloured fabric or tissue paper to add extra contrast!
Candles: As part of representing the victory of light over darkness, candles and diyas are a key feature of celebrating Diwali so make a great gift at this time of year (and, depending on the kind you get, can add even more colour to your hamper too!). Look out for scented candles which not only make great gifts, but fill your loved one’s home with beautiful aromas, making their celebrations even more special.
Dates: These are the sweet fruits that you would offer to people when they visited your home, whether they’re on a platter that you offer as they walk through the door or are placed on a table for people to pick from. As this year many of us won’t be able to visit other people’s homes for Diwali, sending dates instead is a nice way of acknowledging that you’ll miss welcoming them.
Something luxurious and sweet: As mentioned, sweet treats are an important aspect of Diwali celebrations, whether shared with or gifted to families and friends. Alongside mithai – Asian sweets – I like to give (and receive!) biscuits and chocolates too. As Diwali is a big celebration, you should pick something really luxurious – it’s a special occasion, after all! Truffles or pretty chocolate boxes are a good choice, although I try to avoid varieties with alcohol such as liqueur fillings.