If you are hosting a Diwali party and need food inspiration to serve, this post has recipes for Diwali food that your guests will love. I hosted a Diwali celebration, so in this post, I'm sharing my food menu for the Diwali sweets, snacks and appetizers, main dishes, and drinks I served at our event. In addition to recipes, I also share food prep tips to help you get all the food planned and prepared in advance, so you can enjoy the day with your family and friends.
When deciding on the Diwali food menu for our celebration, I considered that almost half of my guests would be non-Indian, so I wanted to showcase Indian food, which is vital to all Indian celebrations. Food presentation was also essential, so I wanted to create a stunning presentation to highlight my creations.
Indulgent Diwali Sweets on the Food Menu
I wanted to indulge my guests with some classic Indian Diwali sweets and desserts on my food menu. My idea was to create an Indian dessert bar/table for maximum impact and eye appeal. I chose family recipes for Diwali sweets since they represented my Indian heritage. The more personal touch a celebration has, the more intimate it will feel to the guests.
Serving sweets in delicate glasses provides for a more luxurious and extravagant experience. I tried to create fusion desserts incorporating classic Indian sweets with unusual elements. There are so many favorite Indian desserts that it became arduous to decide what sweets recipes to keep and what not to include on the menu. I ended up preparing five different homemade Indian fusion sweets and desserts.
Here is the list of all the fusion sweets I included on my Diwali food menu, which can be served cold or at room temperature.
1. Gujiya Baklava
The joy of Diwali, Holi, or any Indian festival is not complete without mouth-watering Gujiyas. I wanted to try a popular Middle Eastern dessert, the Baklava recipe with mawa gujiya filling, and I felt like this was the perfect opportunity to try this twist. Hence, I created my first fusion dessert for the event, 'Gujiya Baklava.' The flavors for this version of Gujiya Baklava turned out to be spot on.
Baklava is a freezer-friendly dessert that can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months in an airtight container.
2. AngoorDana (Urad Dal Meethi Boondi) with Rabdi
Angoordana or meethi Boondi is a delicious pearl-like Diwali sweet made with Urad lentil and all-purpose flour. Any festivities and puja would be incomplete without including Meethi Boondi, and it is even more delicious when served with Rabdi. Boondi has a great shelf life and can do well in a refrigerator for a few weeks. I wasn't sure how long I could refrigerate the rabdi, so I prepared it the day before the party and assembled it in the shot glasses on the event day.
3. Gajar ka Halwa with Thandai Mousse
Cold weather and Gajar ka halwa are synonyms in Northern India. Gajar ka Halwa does not need any introduction; a famous rich, delicious North Indian delicacy. I liked the idea of pairing sweet and rich Gajar ka Halwa with spicy Thandai Mousse. The different textures of halwa and Mousse complemented and enhanced the experience of this Indian fusion dessert.
Gajar ka Halwa is freezer-friendly and was the first dessert I prepared in advance. I cooked it three weeks before the event and kept it frozen until two days. The spiced Thandai mousse and assembly were completed the day before our Diwali celebration.
4. Gulab Jamun and Pumpkin Yogurt Cheesecake Jars:
These jars were yet another showstopper sweet for our Diwali celebration. I combined two popular food flavors, fall favorite pumpkin spice and classic Indian dessert Gulab Jamun. I thought the pumpkin spice flavored with hidden Gulab Jamun yogurt cheesecake jars would add to the charm of the sweets table. Also, I could make them up to 3-4 days in advance, which was helpful. I prepared the Gulab Jamuns first since they have a longer shelf life, and three days in advance, I assembled, baked, and then refrigerated the jars.
5. Angoori Rasmali Cake trifle with Mascarpone Cheese:
My Diwali food menu included an extraordinary fusion Indian dessert called Angoori Rasmalai Cake trifles topped with Mascarpone Cheese. Eggless sponge cake is flavored with Indian spices, cardamom, and saffron and further soaked with Rasmalai-flavored milk. Next, it has a layer of Angoori Rasmalai on top of a soaked sponge cake topped with mascarpone cheese and dusted with pistachio flour. I assembled these trifles in less than an hour and a day in advance! All of my food was enjoyed immensely, but this one was a mega-hit at our Diwali celebration.
Create an Enticing Diwali Sweets Display
There is no denying that "People Eat with Their Eyes First," meaning people prefer to eat delightfully presented food. A pretty display for sweets makes a party more festive. For my Diwali celebration, I wanted my guests to experience Indian food presented through my artistic interpretations, and I wanted them to enjoy the sweets with all of their senses. So take some time to creatively display your sweets for your guests!
Snacks Are a Popular Food at Diwali
When deciding what snacks to serve, I wanted to incorporate a few classic traditional street food recipes with an authentic Indian flavor and some non-Indian popular recipes. I also wanted to serve snacks and appetizers with various flavors and textures so there would be something for everyone.
Some of the Diwali snack food I decided on could be set out and plated in advance and consumed at room temperature or chilled. This helped avoid a last-minute rush of getting all the food out at once. All in all, I prepared seven homemade cold and hot snacks and appetizers.
Fluffy, melt-in-the-mouth lentil dumplings (Vada), dunked in creamy yogurt (Dahi), and topped with classic Indian chutneys are undeniably a treat for the palate. This no-deep-fry recipe of Dahi-Vada will leave guests amazed with every bite. Being so popular and loved, this recipe is great for any festive celebration. Vada can be prepared in advance and stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. They can be plated a day in advance and refrigerated until ready to serve, making them a popular appetizer for a big gathering.
I soaked the frozen vadas in the water and yogurt the night before the gathering. Also, I placed each vada in individual cups with yogurt, then arranged all the cups on a big tray, covered the whole tray with plastic wrap, and placed the tray in the refrigerator before bed. The next day, I finished garnishing them with chutneys and other toppings during the afternoon.
Katori Chaat means a cup filled with your favorite lip-smacking filling. This is my favorite portion-size appetizer to serve and include in a Diwali food menu. This baked katoris can be baked 3-4 weeks in advance, and the filling for the katoris can be prepared one day before the gathering. On the day of the celebration, they can be assembled and served.
For assembly, I prepared and arranged single katoris on a tray and kept the chickpea chaat filling on the side, along with all required toppings and garnishing. It took me approximately 20 minutes to assemble 50 katoris.
Who is not obsessed with falafels and hummus nowadays? A healthier twist to these falafels makes them even more popular at gatherings, so I recommend including this recipe in your food menu for Diwali. These no-deep-fry falafels can be done a few weeks in advance and then frozen. You can serve them with hummus or tahini.
These pan-fried falafels with roasted red pepper hummus can be served in small cups and with a few vegetable sticks. I piped the hummus and arranged the veggie sticks in the serving cups the night before. Simply warm the falafels in the air fryer 30 minutes before the guest's arrival time, place one falafel on a food pick, and arrange them in the cups on top of the hummus.
This recipe is for an easy satay dipping sauce that uses simple ingredients and takes less than 15 minutes to prepare from scratch! This spicy-salty-tangy peanut sauce is dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegan. Peanut satay sauce stores well in the refrigerator easily for months since rice vinegar acts as a preservative.
It can be prepared a few days before the gathering and usually served at room temperature. I served this Thai peanut sauce with veggie sticks on a snack platter. I arranged the whole platter a day in advance and kept it in the refrigeratpr wrapped in cling wrap.
5. Tandoori Curry Puff Pastry
This recipe is a buttery, flaky puff pastry stuffed with the goodness of tandoori, flavored with mixed vegetable curry, and then baked to golden perfection. Simple, but SO GOOD!!! These tandoori puff pastries are safe to store in the freezer for up to three months, so you can prepare them in advance, freeze them, and bake them right before the gathering.
Place the frozen pastries in a preheated oven on a baking sheet; there is no need to thaw the pastries. Start baking them almost an hour before the guests arrive and serve them hot from the oven. I started baking these puff pastries before I started my other appetizer assembly. I worked on the other appetizers while they were baking.
6. Baked Samosa
Any appetizer spread for Diwali would be incomplete without incorporating my most popular baked samosas. This recipe is perfect for freezing samosas for an extended time. You can prepare and assemble them a few days before and bake them fresh when you need them. I started baking the samosas along with the tandoori puff pastries, with one tray in the oven.
7. Tomato Shorba
I thought a bowl of this Spiced Tomato Soup or Tomato Shorba would be just perfect and delicious to warm up the chilly evening. This soup was a last-minute addition to the menu because the temperature dropped slightly on the evening of the Diwali celebration. I served the soup in a big stainless-steel stockpot on a Sterno single-burner gas stove on the lowest heat to keep the soup hot throughout the evening. I provided hot drinking cups, butter diced into single-serving pieces, and chopped cilantro for topping on the side.
Condiment Recipes for Diwali Snacks & Appetizers
I prepared some must-have condiments for the Indian street food and served them in sophisticated Madison Red Wine Glasses from Olivia & Oliver. The condiment recipes added a special touch to my Diwali food menu.
- Cilantro Mint Green Chutney
- Saunth/Meethi Chutney
- Strawberry Ginger Chutney
- Whipped and Seasoned Yogurt
Diwali Food for the Main Course
I arranged for a complete dinner for my guests but outsourced the responsibility for preparing the Diwali main course, since I already had so much food I needed to prepare. Here are the dishes we enjoyed at our event:
- Gobi Manchurian
- Paneer Tikka (on Tawa)
- Methi Matter Malai
- Bag hare Baigan
- Kadai Paneer
- Dal Makhni
- Chole-Channa with Poori
- Raita (Thick)
- Jeera Rice
- Aloo Paratha
The Paan Corner for Diwali
A tall, round table accented with a cloth and tulle stood in one corner, gracing the event. This was my Paan display arrangement. Paan is an Indian after-dinner treat consisting of a betel leaf (Piper betel) filled with lime, herbs, spices, and dried fruits. The sweeter version would include gulkand (rose petal jam), fennel seeds, and supari (areca nut).
Pan in India is famous as a mouth freshener and digestive aid after a meal. Gulkand reduces acidity and heat in the tummy and improves appetite and digestion.
Just a few days before my Diwali event, I discovered this small south Asian paan, "The Paanwaala," vendor on Instagram. I ordered different flavors of paans - Calcutta Meetha Paan, butterscotch, and chocolate. I also orderd some paan in jars and paan truffels.
Drinks for our Event
Since children and grown-ups were attending the event, I planned a drink menu with homemade and store-bought drinks. I prepared two homemade drinks, added a few store-bought drinks, and balanced the non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks.
For Non-Alcoholic drinks, I included:
- Mango punch
- Green Apple Panna
- Strawberry Lemonade
- Non-alcoholic champagne with cotton candy
- Different soda flavors
- Bottled water
For alcoholic beverages, I included:
- White wine
- Red wine
- A few hard liquors (Burbon, Scotch, Taquila, Vodka, Rum)
I created a special mango punch for kids to enjoy since kids love sweet and mango flavors. The second drink I made was Green Apple Panna, which is sweet and savory with a hint of spices and more appropriate for grown-ups.
I served homemade drinks in drink dispensers and used whiskey barrels to prop up the drink station for the soda cans, bottled water, and beer.
Diwali Food Menu Considerations
If you're hosting an afternoon get-together, the food you will need will be less than if you have an event at dinner time.
The number of people you expect will determine how many different types of sweets, snacks and appetizers, and main dishes you should provide. If you're hosting 25 -35 guests, plan on 3-4 bites per person with a full dinner afterward, or 5-7 bites per person if you are serving a lighter meal. If you're hosting a party of 50 guests, you can offer 6 to 9 different items. Parties with over 60-75 guests can easily have nine or more items without overdoing it.
I decided to prepare 250 servings of 6 different appetizers and 175 servings of 5 desserts variety for a guest list of 70 people. I wanted to create an array of appetizers and desserts for my guests.
Food Prep Tips
I constantly analyze a menu before starting to prep and cook. Plan strategically to decide what you can prep and cook in advance and freeze and what needs to be cooked closer to the day of the event. Then prepare your shopping list and make a schedule for shopping for all the ingredients on your Diwali food menu.
Plan and decide in advance how you want to serve and present all of the food courses. I served all the snacks, appetizers, and sweets as individual servings, either in shot glasses or small single-serving plates. For my guest list of 70 people, I made more than 250 servings of individual appetizers and 175 shot glasses of sweets and desserts, except for the Thai peanut satay sauce with veggie sticks served on a snack platter.
The two most important things to consider when planning to serve individual servings are:
- Ensure you have adequate prep time
- Be sure you have enough refrigerator space to store everything.
A month to two weeks before:
- Create a complete shopping list and sort it by when you need to purchase items with perishable food closer to the day of the event.
- Prepare the foods that can be made ahead and frozen.
- Shop for long-shelf life items such as wine, soft drinks, crackers, nuts, etc.
A week before:
- Finish most of the prep work in advance.
Three days before:
- Prepare all the snacks and appetizers, prep what you can, including garnishes, and store them in the refrigerator.
- Pull out serving dishes, utensils, and platters.
- Purchase perishables.
The day of:
- Buy ice and chill beverages.
- Finish last-minute snack and appetizer recipes and assemble.
- Set the table.
The Food on my Diwali Menu Was a Hit!
I hope you found this post helpful in providing ideas for Diwali recipes and how to plan and prepare the food in advance so you can enjoy the event with your family and friends.
If you're planning a celebration and want to decorate for the festival, be sure to check out these posts:
- Diwali Lights to Make Your Home Sparkle
- Diwali Party Ideas to Inspire You
- Diwali Decoration Ideas to Jazz-UP Your Home
- Pista Barfi Recipe with Gulkand