Every year Diwali signals the official opening of the festive eating season for our Scottish-Indian-English family. Diwali is a lunar festival so the actual date varies each year, however it’s always around the end of October or the beginning of November (this year 27th of October), nicely co-ordinating with Halloween, Bonfire Night and the beginnings of Christmas. I remember as a child feeling the double thrill of fireworks and a rocketful of in-bound sweet things; ladoos, curly wurlys, jalebis, toffee apples. New clothes for my wee brother and me, new curtains in the sitting room and the latest set of Corning Ware from my Aunty in New Jersey, it’s traditional to buy and gift homeware at Diwali, the start of a new Hindu Year everything is shiny and bright ready for what’s to come. Of course, the festive season also means a lot of eating and drinking. It usually kicks off with our annual Diwali Party friends, family, the children's now-teenage friends crammed into the candle-lit garden enjoying lamb biryani, bbq sausages and saag paneer in equal measure.
It’s interesting how our we adapt our food habits through the generations, mixing and matching ingredients and flavour. Tamarind is one of my absolute favourite ingredients, my mum couldn’t find tamarind in 1970s Edinburgh so she used to add HP sauce as a substitute. I now make marinades and salad dressings with lots of brown sauce as a sweet-sour flavour. I even have a recipe using it for my turkey at Christmas. Below is my version of a tamarind margarita using, of course, tequila and lime juice, a kick of tamarind, blending it with Dad's most loved liqueur Drambuie (which, by the way, is bottled in Edinburgh) and rimmed with tangy, salty chaat masala. A truly festive cocktail that perfectly reflects our British Indian family.
Festive Tamarind Margarita with a Chaat Masala Lick
Ingredients (serves 4) :
2 teaspoons tamarind concentrate
200ml white tequila
2 tablespoons caster sugar
100ml plus 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon rock salt mixed with 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest, ½ teaspoon of chaat masala, and for the brave a pinch of chilli powder
4 lime wedges
In a cocktail shaker add the tamarind concentrate, 100ml of the tequila and the sugar; shake vigorously. Add ice to the shaker, then the lime juice, the Drambuie, the orange juice and the remaining 100ml of tequila; shake well.
Pour the remaining 2 tablespoons of lime juice and the salt mixture into two separate bowls. Dip the rims of 4 glasses first in the lime juice, and then in the salt mixture. Fill the glasses with ice. Strain the drink into the glasses and garnish with the lime wedges.