About a year ago, I was at Adz's school, talking about Diwali to the Grade One class. I talked a bit about India, and how we celebrated many festivals among all the faiths that make up this incredibly diverse and secular country. When I was talking about Diwali, the celebration of light in honour of the Lord Rama's return to his home town, one little voice piped up - "India sounds awesome, Adz's mom. Can you please take me there?"
India has a tradition of celebrating festivals with the kind of joie de vivre that is almost over the top. When Adz and I visited about a year and half ago, Christmas was being celebrated. Adz, who was used to the classy, restrained lights of Canada, was overwhelmed at the colours, music and lights that Indians celebrated festivals with, and to me, it reminded me of India at it's very best.
Diwali, in particular, has a special significance in India, and is one of the biggest festivals in the country. When I was talking about Diwali to the kids, I found this really cute video online, that they loved.
Of course, I then had to answer a million questions about why the goddess Surpanaka had her head cut off. Trust kids to focus on the goriest parts of the story!
One of my favourite parts of celebrating Diwali in India is seeing the little diyas, or lamps, lining the porches of houses. As I walked along the road to my house, I would see thousands of these pretty, flickering lamps, along with flowers and lights, and it gave the community a magical, joyous feel. Along with the rest of the kids in the neighbourhood, we would head to the fireworks shop and buy tons of sparklers, fire rains, and crackers, and spend the evening in a haze of colour and smoke, the fragrance of which sends me straight back to my childhood. Neighbours would bring us sweets, creamy rasmalai, sweet gulab jamuns, kheer, carrot halwa, milk burfee and savoury snacks. We would eat until we were sick, and then eat some more. The sugar high never came down for the whole week of Diwali, as we celebrated with our friends.
Here in Canada, the celebration is a bit more subdued for me. I always do celebrate it, whether by buying diyas and sweets, so I can recreate some of the magic of my childhood for my own daughter. One of the best parts of Diwali in India is it's inclusiveness and it reminds me of the ethos of this website in the best way.
I decided to celebrate this inclusiveness and diversity of Diwali, by taking a classic French dessert and Indianizing it. I mean, I've lived all over the world, and for me, one of the most welcoming aspects of Diwali is how you can celebrate it by adding your own little touches to it. This pear tarte tatin is a classic, but the delicate complementary flavours of cardamom, saffron and rosewater give it a simple, but very elegant feel of India. Just like me, it embraces the flavours of the world and my own life and makes me feel at home, wherever home is.
To help my readers celebrate Diwali, I partnered up with one of my favourite inclusive supermarkets, the Real Canadian Superstore, who have generously offered to host this giveaway for me. Superstore, particularly the one on Calgary Trail in Edmonton, is one of my favourite places to shop for my Indian groceries, and they have a really extensive collection of Asian spices, fruits, vegetables and is a one stop shop for me. In fact, I joke that you can even get products there that you can't even find in India sometimes. They have a great collection of Indian ready meals and sweets as well, including one of my personal guilty pleasures, Nanak Rasmalai, so with this generous giveaway, you can all indulge and make your own Diwali special too.
Congratulations Elyse Chatterton. I'll be in touch :)
This giveaway is sponsored by Loblaws who own Superstore and is only open to residents of Canada.
One reader will win a $100 prize pack which includes a $50 gift certificate to Superstore (valid all over Canada) and a pack of Diwali essentials to help you celebrate with your East Indian friends and family.
To enter the giveaway, all you have to do is leave me a comment, telling me what your favourite holiday is.
I will pick a winner on Friday 13th November, and Superstore will ship the prize directly to you, if you are the winner. The winner may have to answer a skill testing question before claiming the prize.
In the meantime, enjoy the recipe below.
4 pears (I use Bartlett)
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Generous pinch of saffron
3 green cardamom pods
1 teaspoon rosewater
1 sheet President's Choice All Butter Puff Pastry (225 g), thawed if frozen and kept chilled in the refrigerator
Peel and halve pears. Core, then rub all over with the lemon juice. Keep aside.
Sprinkle the sugar into a tarte tatin pan, or a heavy oven-safe frying pan. Cut in the butter and place on a medium low heat.
Stir together until the butter has melted and the sugar is dissolved, about 5 - 7 minutes. Stir in the saffron.
Pop the cardamom pods, and remove the seeds. Crush the seeds using a mortar and pestle, then add to the butter-sugar mixture.
Simmer gently for another five minutes, then sprinkle in the rosewater.
Arrange the pears, cut side up, packed tightly against each other, in the pan.
Preheat the oven to 400 F (205 C).
Continue to cook for about 10 minutes, until the caramel is thickened and the pears begin to soften.
Take off the heat and leave to cool.
Meanwhile, unroll the sheet of pastry from the fridge and cut into a circle to match the tarte tatin pan.
Carefully drape the pastry over the pears, tucking in the edges. Transfer the pan into the oven and bake for 20 - 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.
Take the tarte out, and let it settle for a couple minutes. Carefully place a large plate over top of the pan, and invert.
Disclosure: I was provided with a gift card to Superstore as payment for this recipe. All opinions are my own, as is this fabulous recipe.