Diwali in Hong Kong: 5 treats to try and where to find them
24 Oct 2019
Let there be light! Tomorrow (25 October) marks the beginning of Diwali, the five-day festival celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists that sees family and friends gather to celebrate victory over darkness. The third day, (which falls this year on Sunday, 27 October) is the height of the festival, a day for celebration which coincides with the last day of the dark fortnight of the lunar month and sees homes and many villages glowing with light.
As with any important cultural festival, food is a central component of Diwali, and there a range of classic Indian sweet treats perfect for sharing and gifting at this time of year. These are the essential Diwali delights you need to know about, and where to get them in Hong Kong.
Not to be missed is the quintessential Indian dessert, laddu, the sphere-shaped treat filled with sugar, gram (chickpea flour) and ghee which is often served at festivals or religious Hindu ceremonies. With variations ranging from the popular boondi ke laddu (with saffron, cashews, raisins and cardamom) that are served mainly during Diwali, to nariyal laddu (with coconut and condensed milk), these balls of doughy delight are sure to suit any palette.
If you’re looking for something soft and creamy, milk peda’s your cup of chai. Made with khoa (essentially, dried ricotta) and sugar, milk peda is mainly served in temples as prasad (a food offering) but is also a festival-time favourite - one bit of a popular kesar milk peda with saffron should explain why. Usually sold in sets, peda makes a great gift for family and friends.
Shine bright like a diamond - or in this case, like a barfi. Similar to milk peda, barfi’s also made with khoa and sugar but has a more fudge-like consistency. These shimmering delights often come in squares or diamonds and are topped with vark (edible silver leaf). Popular at weddings, barfi is also a common Diwali treat especially in northern India. For a regional variation to barfi, try out the dairy-free, west India counterpart, gujarati mohantal, made with gram instead of milk.
For a more refreshing treat, have a scoop of kulfi. (And what’s a party without ice-cream, anyway?) A year-round favourite throughout South Asia, kulfi is essentially an unchurned, denser version of gelato but made with malai, a South Asian cream with a high fat content. This Indian ice cream is most commonly available in traditional flavours such as rose, mango and cardamom and saffron.
Dubbed the ‘Indian doughnut’, gulaab jamun hits the spot every single time. For the uninitiated, these quintessential sweet treats are deep-fried balls of dough dunked in sugar syrup with rose water. Gulaab jamun can be overwhelmingly sweet and one ball definitely goes a long way.
Where to find Diwali treats in Hong Kong
Sangeetha Vegetarian Restaurant
Get festive at world-renowned Indian restaurant chain Sangeetha, who stock a great selection of freshly-made Diwali goodies. At this vegetarian go-to, you’ll find classics like kaju barfi, besan laddu and dry jamun (set prices range from HK$260 to HK$360). If you have time, we recommend making the most of your visit and sticking around for Sangeetha’s delicious South Indian vegetarian fare like the silken and rich paneer butter masala (HK$70) and the creamy dhal tadka (HK$45)..
Since its doors first opened in 1972, Michelin-recommended Gaylord has become a Hong Kong institution for authentic Indian fare. This year, the TST restaurant is offering a premium range of homemade Diwali specials such as coconut burfi and kala jamun (priced from HK$135 for 50g to HK$300 for 1kg) made by their in-house master confectioner.
Gaylord, 5/F, Prince Tower, 12A Peking Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, +852 2376 1001; www.mayfare.com.hk
Spice up your life with Spice Store’s extensive array of South Asian products, from frozen meals to dessert mixes. Get your Diwali celebrations sorted without leaving your seat with the online grocer’s sweet offerings imported straight from India like Haldiram brand kaju barfi (HK$90 for 400g) or creamy Mezban laccha rabri made with whole-fat milk and saffron (HK$30 for 280g). You can also spoil your loved ones with a Diwali gift basket (HK$399) featuring an assortment of imported desserts and incense sticks.
Spice Store, +852 2944 2336; www.spicestore.hk
Kamal Sweet Corner
For over two decades, Kamal Sweet Corner has been delighting Hong Kongers with speciality Indian treats at affordable prices. This festival season, stock up on your favourites, with a variety of barfis, kulfis and much more available.
Kamal Sweets Corner, Shop 68B, Chungking Mansion, Tsim Sha Tsui, +852 2739 2278
Staying true to her tagline that ‘happiness is home-made’, Insta-baker Tanashe ensures that each creation is customised exactly how you like it. Do Diwali a little differently and indulge in the Hong Kong-based baker’s picturesque and innovative selection of sweets like chocolate peda and white chocolate paan tart.