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Oct 14, 2009 11:17 AM

Diwali Potluck Dish Ideas

I will be going to a party this weekend for Diwali, which will be an Indian-themed potluck. I am not unfamiliar with Indian cooking, but I have to drive an hour from my house to the party, which means a hot dish is out. However, I'm having trouble coming up with a dish that may be served cold or at room temperature that isn't a dessert or condiment. Does anybody have any ideas for main/side dish that travels well?

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  1. Is Baba Ghanoush Indian? I might make that since you would just need to keep it chilled and it would be a good appetizer. Or maybe a nice tomato, onion salad? :(

    2 Replies
    1. re: jenwee

      Baba ganouj is not Indian, but baigan bharta is a related Indian dish that can be served at room temperature or cold. Other vegetables (tomato, even potato) can also be made into bhartas. These can be eaten as side dishes. There are lots of other salad/raita-type side dishes you could take.

      There are also some rice south Indian dishes that can be eaten cold -- daddojanam and such. Not really the sort of stuff you'd find at most buffets, though.

      Some chaats (e.g. bhel puri, paapdi chaat) are also eaten at room temperature. If there are wet ingredients (yogurt and chutneys), you probably want to take them along separately and mix before serving. Chaat is usually snack food, but can be eaten as an appetizer in small quantities.

      1. re: jenwee

        I think baingan bharta is an ideal item to take. Here is the recipe I do, if you like.


        Other options could be an Indian type sprouted mung bean (or other legume like black chick peans, etc.) salad, which goes well with Indian foods. You can google lots of recipes for those, too.

        Two things, you don't have to make something Indian. An American style green salad would be nice, too. Or a veg tray with homemade spicy dips. Maybe the dips could be Indian-fusion type like a strained yoghurt with chopped walnuts and and pinch of red chile pepper or something.

        Second, I frequently attend Indian and Pakistani gatherings, often one-dish or potluck parties, and everyone always re-heats the food. It gets cold on the buffet table later anyway. But Just it wouldn't be weird to ask the hostess if you could re-heat. Also, though most people bring desi foods, when someone brings some kind of Western item, everyone loves it and it goes the fastest. I think it is because of the novelty and everyone likes something different.

        Our neighbors sent us some Diwali walnut sweets today, and many houses in our neighborhood are decorated with diwali lights. It's such a fun time of year. Hope you enjoy your party!

        Happy Diwali!

      2. Raita would work. The tomato/onion salad would also be good. Fruit salads sprinkled with chat masala (found at Indian markets) are common in India. Might sound strange, but it's delish. It's sweet/spicy/tangy and travels well.

        1. This is so funny...I'd never heard of Diwali until you posted this AND then I received an e-mail from Manjula (I'm on her e-mail list) she has video recipes on youtube, Manjula's Kitchen...I just really like her, wish she could adopt me as a daughter...anyway, here's more information about Diwali and what you might consider serving:

          "This year Diwali falls on October 17th – which is conveniently on a Saturday!

          Diwali is often referred to as the “Festival of Lights” and is a celebration of joy and happiness. Diwali signifies the victory of good versus evil. Hindus celebrate Diwali throughout the world with great enthusiasm.

          There are many traditions that are followed when celebrating Diwali. Preparations for Diwali often include cleaning your home and opening the windows to welcome the Goddess of Wealth, Lakshmi, into your home. Candles and lamps are lit as a greeting to Goddess Lakshmi, hence the name “Festival of Lights”. Gifts are exchanged and festive meals are prepared. Lively fireworks, and games of cards are enjoyed to celebrate Diwali!

          This year I am especially excited for Diwali because I have a new granddaughter and this is her first Diwali.

          I have been busy preparing some delicious desserts. The sweet smell of cardamom and saffron has infused the whole house! Gujias are typically prepared as a main sweet snack for Diwali. However, this year, I have decided to go a different route and prepare a variety of sweets such as coconut burfi, boondi ka ladoo, gulab jamun and shakkar para.

          In celebration of Diwali, my family has helped decorating the house including the Christmas lights. I am hoping Mansi (my Granddaughter) will be able to help me to decorate the front entrance of the house with rangoli.

          We will be kicking off the Diwali festivities with a family dinner at my house the day before actual Diwali. This celebration is called “Choti Diwali”. I will be preparing a traditional dinner for my family. The menu is puris filled with urad dal, spicy squash, Bhindi, matar paneer, dahi vada, and cumin rice. For dessert we will have gulab jamun and bondi ka ladoo.

          After dinner, keeping in tradition with Diwali celebrations, we will be playing cards. I plan to serve spicy peanuts, burfi and of course chai. My husband is an expert at preparing chai so he will take on that task!

          Diwali day we will have family get together our son’s home. I will post photographs of our celebrations soon!

          I hope you all have a very Happy Diwali!"

          1 Reply
          1. re: Val

            Hey Val...are you in the Boston area? If so, can I invite myself to your party? I promise to help you clean up if I can eat my weight in desserts.

          2. How about bhel puri? You'll probably have to separate out the ingredients though, and have each guests prepare it themselves, to prevent the puffed rice and sev from getting soggy. Here's one recipe:


            I've had a variation where some yoghurt is added as well (same quantity as the other chutneys.) I think I prefer just the tamarind and coriander chutneys. BTW, the store-bought chutneys are fine, and will cut down on the work.

            1. Thanks to everyone who posted—I appreciate the suggestions!

              Raita had come to mind, but I actually made that for the last Indian potluck I went to with these friends, so I thought I'd try something different, if possible. In any case, expanding my Indian cooking repertoire is definitely good! I'm still not sure what I'll take, but I like having options. :)

              2 Replies
              1. re: ShiftyChica

                how about potatoes cooked with tomatoes and coconut? one of my fave veg indian recipes and very good at room temp. kind of like an indian potato salad. I'm prob taking it to the diwali party i'm attending on sat.

                The recipe is from Taste of India (Jaffrey? all i have is stained, dog-eared xerox). I looked for it online and couldn't find it, so i'm paraphrasing it here.

                1 lb potatoes (preferably waxy or yukon, tho any kind will do)
                3 medium tomatoes or one can diced (regular sized can, not large)
                4 tbs oil
                1/8 tsp asafoetida (optional)
                1 tsp black mustard seeds
                1/2 tsp turmeric
                1/2 tsp cayenne other hot pepper powder
                2 tsp tamarind paste or lemon juice (i've never made this with the lemon--love the tamarind flavor)
                1 tsp salt
                1 cup water
                1/2 cup grated coconut (dried is fine tho fresh is better. if using dried, add it a little earlier along with a couple of Tbsp extra water. or soak in some water first.)
                1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

                Cube potatoes. Seed and chop tomatoes finely, if using fresh. heat oil in pan and when hot, add asafoetida and mustard seeds. when mustard seeds begin to pop, turn heat down to med and add turmeric, cayenne, and tomatoes. cook for one minute. add 1 cup of water, the tamarind, the potatoes, and the salt. bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until potatoes are done. Uncover and add coconut and cook down until you get a thick sauce that clings to potatoes. turn off heat and add cilantro. serve warm or room temp.

                1. re: missmasala

                  PS--if you make this dish, i hope you're not going to the same diwali party i am!