Di­wali sweets com­prise a world of colours and flavours

We checked out two shops as they ramped up pro­duc­tion for the fes­ti­val of lights

StarMetro Toronto - - DAILY LIFE - Karon Liu LIQUEUR

There are few hol­i­days as sweet as Di­wali, the fes­ti­val of lights that cel­e­brates the vic­tory of good over evil or the tri­umph of light over dark­ness. The fes­ti­val, which be­gins this week, is marked by gor­geous con­fec­tions of all shapes and colours as it is tra­di­tion to give boxes of these de­lec­ta­ble sweets to those who cel­e­brate it.

The hol­i­day orig­i­nates in In­dia and is mostly associated as a Hindu cel­e­bra­tion, but those in the Sikh and Jain com­mu­ni­ties also ob­serve it, as well as non-re­li­gious peo­ple through­out South Asia where it’s a na­tional hol­i­day in many coun­tries. Through­out the Greater Toronto Area, bak­eries have ramped up pro­duc­tion to meet de­mand from thou­sands of fam­i­lies ob­serv­ing Di­wali.

Al-karam Sweets

This mom-and-pop shop started by sweets mas­ter Muham­mad Butt is cel­e­brat­ing its 20th an­niver­sary this year. Butt learned to make desserts from his brother, who also owns a sweet shop in Pak­istan. There’s al­ways a steady crowd of reg­u­lars lin­ing up at the counter to buy boxes of the house-made sweets made from the Butt fam­ily’s gen­er­a­tions-old recipes.

“I’ve been do­ing this for 21 years,” says Butt, show­ing off in­cred­i­ble fi­nesse as he pipes fine, con­cen­tric cir­cles of bat- Anum Butt, left, and her fam­ily-run Al-karam Sweets in Toronto where South Asian sweets are made in-house by her dad as well as long­time em­ploy­ees such as Saba­hat Beg, right, who has been at the shop for 12 years.

ter into a big vat of hot oil to make the flowery shaped am­rati (or imarti as it’s some­times spelled), a fried In­dian sweet that’s sub­merged in syrup.

His daugh­ter, Anum Butt, runs the on­line busi­ness and says they’ve shipped their desserts as far away as the North­west Ter­ri­to­ries, Nu­navut and Cal­i­for­nia.

Brar’s

What started as a sweet shop in Toronto’s Lit­tle In­dia in 1986 grew into a gi­ant food and restau­rant com­pany with three lo­ca­tions in the Greater Toronto Area, when the Pabla fam­ily

took over the busi­ness in the early ’90s. Brar’s makes about 40 types of sweets and has 10 in-house chefs ded­i­cated to mak­ing desserts, says Har­jin­der Pabla, vice-pres­i­dent of OIC foods, Brar’s par­ent com­pany that spe­cial­izes in veg­e­tar­ian food for the South Asian mar­ket.

To cater to the grow­ing main­stream de­mand for In­dian food (Loblaws, Wal-mart and Sobeys car­ries its prod­ucts), a 190,000-square-foot man­u­fac­tur­ing plant is set to open next year. Brar’s vi­brant take on dil khushar con­tains a trio of pis­ta­chio, cashew and al­monds.

KARON LIU/TORONTO STAR

MICHAEL BELL/THE CANADIAN PRESS

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