November 7, 2011

Below is the toast I delivered in our living room Saturday night during our fifth annual Diwali party.  We were blessed to have many of our closest friends with us—some of whom drove many hours to be here!—and beautiful weather in the backyard.  The gratitude Jill and I feel this year extends to all of you who read this blog and have offered us your love and support.  Thank you for letting us share with you and allowing us to be a part of your lives.  much love, Nishta

As many of you already know, I started throwing these Diwali parties after my dad died.  With my grief came a strong desire to connect to my heritage, both spiritually and in the kitchen, and ultimately, I just wanted to throw the kind of party that my dad would love being at.  I’m proud to say I think I’ve accomplished that goal.

This year, Diwali has an especially potent meaning for me and Jill.  You may know some of the mythology behind Diwali—one of the root myths is about the god Rama returning to his hometown after long years away in exile.  The villagers lit his pathway home with oil lamps, hence the name “Festival of Lights.”

Diwali is a celebration of victory—Rama’s mythological triumph over the forces of evil, but also the metaphorical victories that take place inside each human spirit.  Since last year’s Diwali party, Jill successfully fought cancer and that is one victory we are keen to celebrate tonight.  But even beyond that, I think the victory that we have been made most aware of in the last year is the victory of human goodness.

I cannot begin to really do justice to the ways we were cared for in this last year, by all of you in this room and so many others.  We got really clear about just how powerful love is.  There’s a verse in the eighth chapter of Song of Solomon, which I read from at my friend Kristen’s wedding this summer—“Set me as a seal upon thy heart, for love is stronger than death, passion fiercer than the grave.”  Love IS stronger than death, and life is very, very good.  Thank you all for being here tonight, and for being in our lives.  Together, let’s toast L’Chaim, to life—

Diwali 2011 Menu
(Please let me know if you’d like me to blog about any recipes that aren’t linked!)


roasted chickpeas (this time seasoned with cumin, salt, & a little cayenne)
keema hand pies
vegetarian hand pies
grilled halloumi cheese
sliced radishes & cucumbers with Indian black salt


winter vegetable sambar
grilled eggplant bharta
lamb koftas with rice
saag with homemade paneer
paranthas made by my mom!


Alice Medrich’s seed cookies
homemade masala chai


beer—Allagash White, Dogfish head Indian Brown, SKA Modus Hoperandi, Brooklyn Lager, Lefthand Milk Stout

wine—Guardian Peak Syrah, SA Prüm Essence Riesling, various sparkling

(we had nonalcoholic drinks, too!)

I have to say, this year’s party was easier than ever to plan thanks to my Diwali Pinterest board.  If you’re not already using Pinterest, I highly recommend it as a fine method for culling visual ideas and inspiration, not to mention collaborating on projects and events; if you’re already on Pinterest, please find me so I can follow you back!



  1. Nishta – Jill’s photos do justice to Saturday night’s sparkling Festival of Lights. Please include the recipe for the yummy eggplant bharta, my favorite when wrapped in your excellent naan. Also, to all the readers, the seed cookies are addictive. I definitely have to make some of those.
    L’Chaim indeed for the blessings of the past and those to come in the future.

    Comment by carolyn truedell — November 8, 2011 @ 7:43 am

  2. From one who wasn’t there, but still raises a glass to your extraordinary life. Beauty.

    Comment by Katherine — November 8, 2011 @ 7:55 am

  3. Gorgeous photos. Looks like it was a beautiful evening!

    Comment by Tanvi — November 8, 2011 @ 9:45 am

  4. Oooo, I want you to blog about the lamb kofta w/ the tomato gravy. I had it for lunch and dinner today. Hooray for leftovers.

    Comment by Sharon — November 8, 2011 @ 7:56 pm

  5. Carolyn–I will put bharta on my to-blog list! Thank you for being with us.

    K–hope one of these years we’ll have you at Diwali. xx

    Tanvi–thank you! it was a special night.

    Sharon–I have, silly! http://bluejeangourmet.com/2010/02/23/the-food-of-my-people-lamb-kofta/

    Comment by Blue Jean Gourmet — November 9, 2011 @ 10:17 am

  6. Nishta, what a beautiful post. And my mouth is watering reading about all the food!!!! Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

    Comment by Lauren Bernstein — November 13, 2011 @ 3:56 pm

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