The symbolic foods consumed during the Festival of Lights

Diwali, the festival lights, sees millions of people attend events around the world each fall to celebrate the triumph of good over evil.

Celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, Diwali is one of the most significant festivals of Indian culture and calls for numerous traditional dishes.

From popular treats to savory main meals, here are some of the key foods consumed over the course of the five-day celebration, which begins on Tuesday, November 2 this year.


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South Asian sweets and desserts are called mithai and are a key part of Diwali celebrations.

Many of the delicacies are fried foods made from sugar, chickpea flour and condensed milk.

They vary from region to region, but common ones include balushahi, which are a bit like donuts, laddoos, and barfi.

They can be eaten alongside salty foods or eaten alone as a snack.

It is customary to exchange decorated mithai boxes between family and friends during Diwali.


    (Getty Images / iStockphoto)

(Getty Images / iStockphoto)

Snacks are a key part of the Diwali menu and many of them come in the form of chivda, a Bombay spicy mix that consists of a variety of dry ingredients, such as peanuts, chickpeas, fried onion, and fried lentils.

It is sometimes eaten as part of a meal, but most of the time it is enjoyed on its own as a snack.

Lapsi Halwa

    (Getty Images / iStockphoto)

(Getty Images / iStockphoto)

This sweet dish is often eaten on the first day of Diwali and is made from coarse-grained broken wheat, which is then cooked with clarified butter and sweetened with sugar and cardamom powder.

It is incredibly popular and is often served with a meter-long bean curry, as beans are thought to represent longevity.

Alo Tikki

    (Getty Images / iStockphoto)

(Getty Images / iStockphoto)

These little fried patties are made with grated potatoes and are usually served alongside regional sauces, such as mint sauce or tamarind sauce.

They look and taste a bit like potato pancakes and are usually crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, making them an irresistible traditional Indian delicacy.


    (Getty Images / iStockphoto)

(Getty Images / iStockphoto)

Although eaten all year round, samosas peak in popularity around Diwali.

Fried dough pockets usually have the shape of a triangle and are stuffed with minced meat, lentils or vegetables.

Because Diwali is all about celebrating the sweetness of life, special sweet versions are often made to celebrate the holiday, containing ingredients like coconut, cardamom and, of course, sugar.

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