Visiting Hindus during Deepavali is an interesting culinary experience, as you will get to taste a variety of delicious food. The tempting spread covers both sweet and savoury dishes as well as snacks like murukku, halwa, vadai etc. With Western influence, housewives also bake Western style cookies and cakes. As spicy food is part of a Hindu's diet, families serve a wide variety of curries with briyani. However,traditional Indian homes will only serve vegetarian food on this day.
Women would wash and dry the various lentils like green gram, urad dhal (blackgram), besan and send them to mills to be ground into flour. This is prefered to ensure only pure ingredients are used to make the delicacies. Ready-milled flours may be adulterated; some may have cornstarch in it and this would affect the quality, taste and texture of the sweets. In Hindu households, the making of sweets begins a week to 10 days before Deepavali.
Traditionally, athirasam is the first sweet that is made for the festival. It's name means 'the supreme taste'. It's a very difficult sweet to make and is usually done by skilful elderly womenfolk. The sweet is made from rice flour which is roughly ground, mixed with sugar and allowed to ferment. The thick clay-like dough is then flattened into patties and deep-fried to get crisp, spongy puffs. This sweet is fed to charcoal stove (or any stove) as an offering to the Goddess of the Stove for her blessing to ensure the sweet-making is a success. Athi rasam is also offered to elderly couples who visit on Deepavali as a mark of respect. It is rumored that newly-weds who visits a home for the first time would also be served athirasam for auspicious reasons.