Calorie counters be damned, in many homes its customary to have an array of at least ten different sweets and three or four savouries. It’s probably the reason why many homes in Tamil Nadu kick Diwali off with a mouthful of a special Diwali Legiyam or Marundhu (Medicine) on an empty stomach. It looks and tastes quite similar to Dabur Chyawanprash and combines over 20 ingredients that include everything from dried ginger to ajwain to black pepper and dates. Probably an antidote for the unrelenting sugar orgy that lasts through Diwali. The list of sweets don’t necessarily follow any pattern or tradition. In many cases, the kids at home end up deciding the list of Diwali sweets based on their favourites and yet there are some sweets that almost end up being a constant. Many of these sweets can be bought around the year in sweet shops in Chennai or Bengaluru:
It might date back just over a hundred years, yet many people in the South view this as a very traditional sweet. Just three ingredients – sugar, ghee and chickpea flour, come together to create a sweet that melts in your mouth.
From the rich badam halwa (with finely ground almonds) to the sticky wheat halwa, most Diwali sweet platters or sweet boxes usually feature at least one type of halwa, especially in Tamil Nadu and Kerala
Probably one of the most traditional sweet dishes from Tamil Nadu (similar to the Kajaya in Karnataka or the Ariselu in Andhra Pradesh). There are inscriptions that date back to Krishnadevaraya’s reign about this sweet crafted with rice flour and jaggery. It’s a quintessential Diwali treat and involves a laborious cooking process.
This soft yet crunchy maida pastry is similar to the Balushahi from Southern Bihar and a sweet dish that’s popular almost across the subcontinent. It’s a sweet that’s commonly made for festive occasions across Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
Payasam is the one dessert that is savoured in the South regardless of age and culture. The milk treat is made during all auspicious occasions and also for those occasional indulgences.
Rava Kesari with Milk
Much like sooji ka halwa, South India's rava kesari is an absolute treat with its creamy and roasty after taste. Usually bright orange in colour, thanks to the addition of saffron, it is appealing and very inviting. You can add fruits of your choice, like mangoes or pineapples to make it more delectable. This dessert hardly needs an occasion to be prepared and relished.