Ask any South Indian Tam Bram about the most defining aspect of Diwali goodies & chances are that the reply will be 'Lehiyam'. Whatever the traditional offerings may be from home to home,' lehiyam' is a mandatory part of Diwali prep.
For those of you unfamiliar with 'lehiyam', the closest comparison I can think of is a 'Chyawanprash'. If you're unfamiliar with both these terms, Lehiyam is a spicy tonic made primarily with fresh Ginger with a blend of other spices (which vary between family recipes) in a syrup made from Gud (Jaggery).
This confection literally started out as a joke when my husband asked me what I was making for Diwali but surprisingly its turned out to be a great variation for truffles & Boy am I glad I stumble upon this at home rather than @ the Godiva parlor. That would have been such a 'Now why didn't I think of it' moment.
For the Lehiyam you need:
1 tbsp Coriander seeds,
1 tsp Cumin
4-5 Long pepper
4-5 black peppercorns
1/4 cup of fresh ginger root ground to a fine paste
1/3 cup of gud (jaggery) OR Brown Turbinado sugar
1 tbsp ghee
Made a fine powder of the coriander, cumin & the 2 varieties of pepper. Add to the fresh ginger root paste & combine well.
In a skillet, heat the gud or sugar till it melts and forms a brown color syrup. Add the ginger paste & the ghee & mix well. cook till the moisture has evaporated & the mixture resembles a thick paste. remove from stove & set aside to cool completely. Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
To make the truffles you need:
1 bar semisweet chocolate,
1/4 cup heavy cream.
Lehiyam pieces, Chilled in freezer & rolled into balls.
Melt the chocolate & heavy cream in a double boiler till it forms a smooth mixture. MAKE SURE that the chocolate does not come into contact with water as this can make the chocolate 'seize' (looks like curdled chocolate).
Keeping the chocolate mixture warm & flowing, dip the lehiyam spheres into the chocolate to coat them evenly. Remove with a dry fork, making sure any excess chocolate drips out & place into paper cups. Cover & leave in a cool dry place to set.
Bon Appetit & a happy Diwali