Don’t get me wrong. My Mum is an ace at cooking meals, and as her offspring, I shall defend her culinary skills till I snuff it. But when it comes to sweets and snacks, we both approach the task with some trepidation.

“Why do you want to pain yourselves?” asks my Dad.

“It’s not a pain, we enjoy it!” I defend.

It’s true. A couple of years back we tried making gulab jamuns. Everything seemed to be going well. The dough kneaded soft, the fried rounds were golden brown, the syrup was warm and inviting. We gently plopped our jamuns into the syrup and left them overnight, eagerly anticipating them to be swollen into spheres of deliciousness by the morning. Come morning, the jamuns had swollen, and bobbed around like happy islands in the pale syrup. As we scooped one out —

“What the heck happened to the lower half?”

“Oh my God! It’s dissolved to the bottom like sediment!”

Nevertheless, the effort was made and our half-jamuns were a treat that my Dad and brother ate like they were meant for kings. We tried them again this year, modifying the syrup and the dough consistency. It’s taking time to absorb the syrup this time… I’ll keep you posted.

Don’t even get me started about our murukku.

So each year, Mum and I try making murukku as well. We try a variety: spindly swervy coils, flat and wide crispy “ribbon” ones, thick, cylindrical and crunchy… but we have a secret when we make all of these: Lingam’s Murukku Mix!

Yes, Mum and I use Lingam’s pre-mixed batters, add our own ghee and water, fry it in oil and call it “home-made”.

This year, however, Mustafa’s and Lingam’s let us down. We checked aisle after aisle, pushing and shoving against all the others who procrastinated on their shopping like us, and ended up empty handed (only with regards to murukku mix – you can NEVER leave Mustafa’s empty handed).

So here we go, brave as ever, we decided to turn to our other family secret: YouTube. Searching for murukku recipes we ended up at some rough proportion of rice powder and dhal flour, mixed with sesame, chilli powder, ghee and salt. The dough was rolled into a soft play-doh consistency and ribbon coils were pressed out using the dough-press-template-thingy. The coils were then slid into hot oil, and they bubbled into crispy ringlets with that satisfying, hissing sound only something frying in hot oil can make.

Did I say salt?

We added too much salt.

But we love our murukku because it’s ours, and if you come home, please practice your fake “It’s so good!” faces, because anything less will not be appreciated. We eat it, with smiles in our hearts, and glasses of water in our hands.

So that’s Deepavali at my home. It’s a time when Mum and I (and sometimes Dad and Bro) bond while making snacks, and then Dad and Bro dutifully defend our right to do so year-after-year while eating the results. Through all the salty, sweet, spicy, crunchy, soggy, messy, tiring and gratifying moments that it brings, we spend a day together reminiscing about another year gone by while making promises to eat healthy for the days leading to Christmas.

Happy Deepavali! Eat well and smile bright!

Written by Aditi Sridhar

Aditi is a confused child of globalization who isn't quite sure whether she is Indian with Singaporean influences, Asian with western thoughts, modern with conservative leanings, or a global citizen with a local passport. She loves meeting diverse people and hearing human stories, and is in awe of how reality was once - and will be in future - star dust floating in space.

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