Thursday, October 20, 2005

Deepavali - Little India, Klang (Part 2)

On to the second part of my walkabout in Little India, Klang.

When you walk down the streets, not only do you find splashes of colours with the saris hung all over the place, you will also smell the fragrance of fresh jasmine. Flowers are said to play a huge role with the Indians as a symbol of prosperity. Hence it is not surprising to find these ladies all along the street weaving white jasmine flowers into garlands using threads. The jasmine flower is said to symbolise happiness. I love their delicate fragrance especially on hot summer nights.

Another place you see fresh flower stands are in front of Indian temples as flowers are offered to the Indian deities especially on Tuesdays and Fridays, the Hindu holy days. These white jasmine garlands can also be worn by women in their hair to symbolise purity and beauty or to complement their colourful saris. Besides selling garlands, these ladies also trade in betel nuts and leaves. The betel nuts (seen below) is chopped finely or coarsely and mixed with lime paste and spices. This mixture is then placed on top of fresh betel leaves and popped in your mouth and chewed. Eating betel nuts this way is said to help your digestive system.

During this festival, sweets play a major role and traditionally familes will prepare them days just before Deepavali so they are fresh. However, you can also get a wide selection of sweets at the stalls and some of them are available all year round. It is believed that sweets should be exchanged between family and friends during the festival as it brings good luck.

This little stall had a wide selection of sweets including these yellow coloured ones with cloves as stems. You see quite a few of these around Little India and they come in different shapes and colours. There was even one shaped like a banana. Not too sure what the taste of this is like as I did buy one but I have yet to try them. I suspect they will be milk based and may have nuts inside.

The pinwheel sweets are something unusual that I have yet to see around while the bright pink ones are made from ghee and have a melt in the mouth quality.

The streets seem to be full of these apple shaped sweets that come in different colours which are so pretty. I believe they are the same as the yellow sweets and will have different nuts inside them.

This stall was also selling savoury snacks like curry puffs stuffed with vegetarian fillings, sweet jellies and even the Malay kuih dadar which has grated coconut flavoured with gula melaka (Malay for palm sugar).

I have blogged about these earlier but I love them. Known as ghee balls, they don't look much among all their colourful cousins but they melt in your mouth with their nutty flavour. The amazing thing is this type of sweet has similar cousins all over the world whether it is known as mexican wedding cookies to the Americans or kuih makmur to the Malays.

Hope you are not suffering from the sweet overdose? If you are, take a break as the fortune teller beckons. Here you see someone asking the teller what will this year's Deepavali hold for him. Those reddish cards will be randomly picked by a bird in the wooden cage and the fortune teller will interpret them for a fee.

Here is a close up of the fortune telling birdies in their cage as one of them is taking a well deserved tea time break. I am not sure what kind of birds they are but they look pretty tame and well cared for.

Back to my sweets trail....I have seen the pictures of these sweets on someone's website hence I was keen to check them out myself. Most of these sweets are usually placed behind glass cabinets to keep out the dust in the Indian restaurants. I had some slight problems taking the pictures with the glass reflection. One of the workers of this Restaurant Mohana was so nice as he saw me struggling with my picture taking that he opened them for me so I could take better ones. Not only that, he patiently let me ask him what each sweet was. Unfortunately he could not converse much in English or Malay but we had a list of the sweets pasted on the side of the cabinet so he could point to me which ones they were. These are known as Vanilla Burfi that is made from milk. They had added red and green maraschino cherries on top of them to give them quite a festive look.

This is laddu made from gram (lentil) flour, rice flour, ghee and sugar. It is a pretty popular item as I saw this at almost all the stalls around Little India.

They also had these special laddus which were bigger than the normal laddus and chockful of almonds.

The shop had a wide selection of burfi that came with different fruits, these ones had red and green bits of cherries and a sprinkle of raisins on top of them.

These are mysore pagu, a South Indian sweet made from ghee, chickpeas flour, grated coconut, kesari powder and cashewnuts which is flavoured with cardamon. The kesari powder is also known as saffron powder which gives this sweet it's yellow colour.

According to the restaurant, these heart shaped sweets are known as apple govas. Not too sure what it is made of but I reckon it is similar to paal gova, a milk based sweet and these ones could be flavoured with apples. If any of you know more about this sweet, do drop me a comment as I would love to know more about it.

More varieties of the fruit burfi, these ones have red cherry bits inside them.

These were tucked in a corner and look quite similar to the vanilla burfi with their red and green maraschino cherries tops. They are known as rava laddu and is made from ghee, roasted semolina(rava), fresh coconut, cardamoms and nuts. These laddus are tossed in some dessicated coconut making them look a bit Christmassy.

Not too sure what is inside this fruit burfi but they look pretty unusual with their deep orange pumpkin colours and I think there are nuts inside too.

This is another burfi sweet that has bright green and white layers making it look a bit like a kuih talam.

I love these brilliant orange halwas with their chopped nut topping. They are made from a mixture of lime juice, corn flour, ghee and sugar.

These brown like doughnuts are known as Athirasam, a Southern Indian favourite. It is made from rice grains that is soaked and then grinded into a fine powder. You then make a candy like substance called paagu from a type of raw sugar called
jaggery, by slowly boiling it with water. Then you mix in cardamom for flavour and mix in the powdered rice. The dough is left to stand overnight and then deep fried in shape of discs.

Tomorrow will be another tooth aching day as it is the last instalment of my Little India tour where I feature sweets flown in from Chennai. I also have this month's Sugar High Friday entry that is all about the alluring and enticing dark chocolate. With regards to today's sweets, if I got any of their names or descriptions wrong, do tell me as I pieced them together from my discussions with the shop and whatever I could find from the Internet.


Swee San said...

waa... i've stayed in klang for the pass 20 years.. seeing the street for hundreds of times .. it still amazes me by looking at the pics.. ahha.. it's really well light at night ..

i like the fresh jasmine smell too.. i have a plant of it. .when it's really nice..

Tom said...

Really love your Blogs. Pictures make it come alive.
The birds are lovebirds,Common green.

cin said...

Thanks for sharing all these pictures from Ramadan & Divali celebrations! Mum is in M'sia at the moment so I'm hoping that she will get to enjoy some of these celebration foods.

3e said...

The pictures are beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

boo_licious said...

swee - lucky you to stay in Klang. Got great seafood there.

tom - thanks for the nice compliments and hope you will continue reading on. Thanks also for the tip on the lovebirds.

Cin - hope your mum is enjoying herself as it is a nice time to visit Malaysia.

lasez - you are very welcome and hope you will keep visiting the blog.

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