The Peacock celebrates the spirit of Diwali
November 7, 2012 (VERNON HILLS, Ill.) (WLS) -- Like most Indian restaurants, the lunch buffet at The Peacock - in a Vernon Hills strip mall - attracts an assortment of semi-adventurous eaters.
They typically look to mildly exotic fare like tandoori chicken or tikka masala, steeped in cream and spices. But this time of year brings the additional focus on sweets, since it is Diwali, also known as The Festival of Lights.
"Weddings, engagements, birthdays, whatever auspicious occasions go on in your home," said Shakuntala Chhabria, owner of The Peacock. "People will have sweet - we call them "sweet meats" literally - that are exchanged in India around this time of the year."
Most of them are made from milk, sugar and nuts, and spices also play a role. Alack jamun - a coconut ball made from condensed milk and sugar syrup - shouldn't be confused with gulab jamun, the typical fare found at the end of most Indian buffet lines. Meanwhile, burfee, also known as matthai, comes in several shapes.
"For an American I would say it's basically like fudge. It is used from milk that is condensed until it gets solid enough and then you put different flavors in it," said Chhabria.
Ladoo is made from chickpea flour and lots of sugar syrup; it's often brightly colored, which is part of the festive décor. Then there is the carrot halwa, the Indian answer to carrot cake, perhaps. Carrots are cooked in milk until it's thickened, resulting in an orange-hued, spoonable dessert.
"Obviously you add sugar, you add cardamom, you can put some rose water to give it some flavor, and then you garnish it with almonds," she said.
Diwali begins next Tuesday, November 13, and runs for five days, until Nov. 17.
700 N. Milwaukee Ave., Vernon Hills
restaurants, steve dolinsky
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