This is a story that brings you to the best part about Diwali—the food bit. It's literally what makes this festival the most special time of the year, with mithai boxes that just don't stop coming in. And while you were busy zeroing on that perfect kurta, choosing the colour scheme for your crockery this year and saving dates for the various card parties that you're invited to, we did the homework for you. To help make the search for the perfect Diwali treat box easier, the editors at India Food Network have shortlisted some of the best options available in the country. Go forth, and take your pick.
Phool Co, Pan India
Recently actor Alia Bhatt became an investor for this product company that recycles temple flowers and works towards the preservation of the Ganges. The Ramayana collection, as a part of their Diwali gift box series, contains jaggery-coated cashew and cinnamon-coated almonds, artisanal Himalayan green tea from the Manjhee Valley tea estate infused with vibrant and fragrant flowers and hand-rolled incense sticks and cones. Apart from other festive paraphernalia like diyas, their hampers also feature "plantable firecrackers". These are firecracker lookalikes made from waste newspaper and embedded with seeds such as green amaranthus, basil, sponge gourd, gulmohar, spinach and ashwagandha and "plantable mithais" that mimic mithai, but are made with waste ground powder of coffee, discarded neem leaves, rose petals and neem sawdust, which have to be sowed to grow fresh plants!
A plant-based sweet shop, at Vijay Sweets you'll find traditional mithai like cashew barfi, dilkhush, elaneer halwa and kaju katli—but all made without dairy. If you're a fan of the traditional South Indian mithai, Mysore pak, you'll love their karupatti version made with concentrated cane sugar and date palm. It has a dominant palm flavour which takes the mithai to a whole new level. Besides they also do Kerala halwa made using coconut oil instead of ghee, which is flavoured with cardamom.
Well-curated hampers that are ready to buy and deliver is this brand's forte. Their Delight Hamper features nuts, 24Mantra organic honey and artisanal Indian sweets, alongside granola bars, cookies, Tiramisu sticks, gourmet tea, incense sticks and a diya. They also have a kit featuring all things premium and gourmet like almond honey, organic creamy peanut butter, signature cranberry, citrus and forest honey cookies, cream wafers, olive oil, coffee, pink grapefruit marmalade, pasta, bath salts, fruit drops and more.
What we love about this health-focussed food brand from Mumbai is that it really lives up to its motto of "cake without the heartache." Specialising in guilt-free cakes, brownies, candy bars and other delightful treats, Skinny Bakes is a home bakery that's put together what is ostensibly the most perfect gift for your gym-loving friend or diabetic uncle. Their Diwali menu features hampers like The Phataka, an all-Indian box comprising pinni, besan and jaggery barfi, date and fig squares, panjiri and a savoury trail mix; alongside a Modern Indian Box, where the pinnis are replaced with a healthy, gooey chocolate cake. But if you really want the best of both worlds, go for their Bestseller box that comes with their signaturecake, stuffed dates, ragi jowar chocolate cookies and candied nuts. Plus, they have smaller gifting options in the form of Bandhan boxes and pouches of pinnis, panjiris, barfis and more.
Made with homegrown ingredients, techniques and flavours reimagined in a fun way, Bhawan from Delhi has an exhaustive list of festive offerings to choose from this Diwali. From beetroot and vanilla bean shakkar paras to nimki, besan ladoo poppers, jaggery walnuts, lakhori yellow chilli salted nuts and mint mathis, their range of hampers sound like a surefire way to a food-loving relative or friend's heart. Be it the Diwali Munchies hamper, the Sugar and Spice box, the Sweet Nothings hamper or the really exciting, nostalgia-tinted Childhood Favourites collection, all of Bhawan's festive menu looks like a big, bold and beautiful assemblage of goodies that you just can't get enough of.
Truth is, nothing quite spells celebration like chocolates, but thanks to the new movement in the Indian foodscape that focuses more on things like quality and provenance, you can now turn that perfect box of chocolates into an even more special gift. For Bengaluru-based couverture chocolate company, Smoor, the goal is to acquaint choco lovers to creamy, luxury Belgian chocolates that come in distinct flavours like chilli, hazelnut gianduja, passion praline, rocher, nougat cube and mango truffle, to name a few. Their boxes come in sizes of five, 12, 25, 49 and 64 with the additional option to customise and handpick flavours and packaging. Place an order for your best bae or that sophisticated bua who will surely love you for it.
While it is a no-brainer to simply walk into a mishti'r dokaan (sweet shop) and haul boxes of sweets this Diwali, in a city still wrapped in the past, we're happy to report there are new options. We discovered a small bakery that's doing fantastic and elevated desserts and their festive boxes sound like the appropriate present for your discerning food-obsessed relative or friend. Place an order for Bleubury's Signature Treat Hamper, which comes with a rose pista white chocolate tea cake loaf, white gold chocolate cake pop, a jar of nuts, white chocolate rose pista brownie, along with a diya, candies and a festive bag, all wrapped up in a kappa board box. What do we love? That it includes a little note on the contents, alongside storage instructions.
Sonal Ved is the editor at IFN. She is also an author of an award-winning cookbook called Tiffin. She travelled through the first five tastes to be able to tell between a brie and provolone dolce. She can make stellar undhiyu and a green smoothie.
Suman Quazi is a Writer, Host and the Food Editor with India Food Network and Start2Bake. She believes that while food is cultural, societal and intellectual, it is also deeply personal and is keen in contributing towards a dialogue around food in India that's meaningful. Her work has appeared in leading Indian publications like Midday, Living Foodz, Zee Zest, Deccan Chronicle, 101India and DailyO.