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Monday, Feb 19
All Day Ongoing and Extended Events
9:00 AM Lunar New Year: Lion Dance Performance
2:30 PM San Diego Ballet: Ritmos Latinos
3:00 PM Boomshaka Music Festival
Tuesday, Feb 20
All Day Ongoing and Extended Events
5:30 PM Discussion: Talking Race & Inclusion
Wednesday, Feb 21
All Day Ongoing and Extended Events
6:00 PM Mexico's Upcoming Elections and What They Mean for the U.S.
6:00 PM Film: Clinica de Migrantes
7:00 PM Stage: Uncle Vanya
Thursday, Feb 22
All Day Ongoing and Extended Events
10:00 AM Seaworld Lunar New Year
12:00 PM Civil Society, Corruption and the Rise of Liberalism in Contemporary South Africa
3:00 PM San Diego Kuumba Fest
4:00 PM An Exhibit on the Life and Deeds of Dr. Shih-Liang Chien
7:00 PM Stage: Cardboard Piano
7:30 PM Francisco Cantu in Conversation with John Wilkens
8:00 PM Music: Alsarah & the Nubatones
Friday, Feb 23
11:00 AM First Annual Distinguished Lecture on U.S.-Mexico Relations
2:00 PM San Diego Kuumba Fest
6:00 PM Lectures: North County Black History Month Celebration
6:00 PM Border Art: Opening Reception
7:00 PM Stage: Safa's Story
7:30 PM Stage: Othello
7:30 PM Music: Krenek, Britten & Rilke
7:30 PM Stage: The Diary Of Anne Frank
8:00 PM Stage: Cardboard Piano
Saturday, Feb 24
All Day Ongoing and Extended Events
10:00 AM Don Quijote Read-a-thon
10:00 AM Kumeyaay Cosmology
10:00 AM Workshops: Indigenous Folk Art Dish Towel
10:00 AM San Diego Chinese New Year
10:00 AM San Diego Kuumba Fest
2:00 PM Stage: Othello
2:00 PM Stage: Safa's Story
6:00 PM African Presence in Latin American Lecture by Dr. Runoko Rashidi
7:00 PM Stage: Safa's Story
7:00 PM Play Reading: Mina's Revolution
7:30 PM Music: Sacra Profana Building Bridges Between Nations
7:30 PM Stage: Othello
7:30 PM Music: Jesse Cook
7:30 PM Stage: The Diary Of Anne Frank
8:00 PM Stage: Cardboard Piano
11:55 PM Film: Mind Game
Sunday, Feb 25
All Day Ongoing and Extended Events
11:00 AM Film: Mind Game
12:00 PM World Foods Supermarket Chinese New Year Lion Dance
1:00 PM Art: Dongsheng Gao
1:00 PM San Diego Kuumba Fest
2:00 PM International Cottage Sampler Program
2:00 PM Music: Jimmy & Enrique
2:00 PM Stage: Safa's Story
2:00 PM Music: Beat Quest
2:00 PM Stage: Uncle Vanya
7:00 PM Music: Herb Alpert & Lani Hall Live at The Belly Up
7:00 PM Stage: Safa's Story
7:00 PM House of Erzulie Book Launch Party
7:30 PM Stage: The Diary Of Anne Frank
8:00 PM The Benedetti Trio: George Harrison Tribute
10:00 PM Mandarin House 2nd Annual Chinese New Year's Party & Fundraiser
Monday, Feb 26
All Day Ongoing and Extended Events
10:00 AM San Diego Chinese New Year
4:30 PM Europe-China Relations: New Realities and Implications for the U.S.
6:00 PM Music: Javid & Naoko
Tuesday, Feb 27
All Day Ongoing and Extended Events
4:30 PM Black History Month Film and Conversation Series
7:00 PM Queer Film Festival
7:00 PM Stage: Uncle Vanya
Wednesday, Feb 28
7:00 PM East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes against Humanity
7:00 PM Stage: Uncle Vanya
Thursday, Mar 1
All Day Ongoing and Extended Events
7:30 PM Stage: Othello
Friday, Mar 2
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7:30 PM Stage: Othello
Saturday, Mar 3
All Day Ongoing and Extended Events
9:00 AM Music: Edo Bayashi and Kotobuki Jishi Workshops with Eien Hunter-Ishikawa
12:30 PM Music: Edo Bayashi and Kotobuki Jishi Workshops with Eien Hunter-Ishikawa
7:00 PM Music: Dornob Collective in Concert
7:30 PM Stage: Othello
Sunday, Mar 4
All Day Ongoing and Extended Events
5:30 AM Music: Edo Bayashi and Kotobuki Jishi Workshops with Eien Hunter-Ishikawa
2:15 PM Music: Edo Bayashi and Kotobuki Jishi Workshops with Eien Hunter-Ishikawa
7:00 PM Music: Raga, Roots & Re Imaginings
Indian Phirni and Skakkarpare for Diwali
The San Diego Participant Observer Recipe of the Month is for Indian Phirni and Skakkarpare for Diwali. These tasty sweets are often enjoyed at the Indian Festival of Lights, Diwali.


This year October brings one of the most important festivals in the Hindu lunar calendar: Diwali. Diwali, or Deepavali, is a five day celebration for Hindus all over the world. The festival spiritually signifies the victory of hope, light, goodness and knowledge over their opposites—despair, darkness, evil and ignorance. Over the five festive days, families and communities across the Hindu world come together to celebrate the convivial holiday.

Interestingly though, Diwali isn't just a festival for Hindus. Jains, Sikhs and the Newar Buddhists of Nepal all celebrate Diwali as well, though with some variations. The religious tones of Diwali celebrations do vary from religion to religion, which we won't get into here, but the festive feeling runs through them all. Gift giving, gestures of peace, feasting, designing intricate rangoli (a South Asian decorative art), taking part in melas (a fair or community gathering) and shopping for new clothes are all integral to the Diwali experience.

In observing Diwali night, the third day of the festival, Hindus will often dress in their best attire, light diyas (lamps and candles) in and around their homes, give prayers (puja) to Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth and prosperity), watch fireworks and then feast. The feast is important in a Diwali celebration as it is a symbol of generosity and prosperity shared amongst family and friends. And while typically feasts will have savory dishes at their core, for many, Diwali is all about the sweet snacks known as mithai.

The term Mithai encompasses any and all sweet dishes from the Indian Subcontinent; this includes India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Thanks to this diversity within South Asia and the spread of South Asian peoples throughout the world, the variety of mithai for Diwali truly knows no bounds. Regionalism in Indian cuisine shows itself even among mithai, with the innumerable subcategories and variations on common recipes. Categories like burfi, kheer/payasam, kesari, ladoos, and halwa serve as the templates for regional and individual interpretation. Specific regional dishes, like gulab jamun, jalebi, and panjiri from the north or chomchom, sandesh and rasgulla from Bengal, illustrate the unique perspectives and originality of the cooks and cultures. The two dishes we will be focusing upon in this article are badam phirni and shakkarpare.

Badam phirni is a variation on the classic Indian sweet rice pudding known as kheer. Kheer, and all its variants, holds a special place at the festive table across South Asia. No matter one's religion, kheer is integral to any occasion, be it Diwali, Eid, weddings, birthdays or the like. Kheer has its roots in ancient Indian culinary tradition and has persisted throughout the centuries due to the availability of its main ingredients (rice and milk), and the ease of preparation. Badam phirni utilizes ground rice (thus making it a phirni) and almond meal as thickening agents. This style of kheer is thought to have originated in Persia, illustrating the historical culinary link between Northern India and Central Asia.

The second featured recipe, shakkarpare, is a snack popular in Northern and Western India, in particular in Gujarat and Maharashtra. Shakkarpare is a versatile fried snack that, depending on the intent, can be savory, spicy or sweet. The simple dough is formed into diamonds and then fried in ghee until perfectly crisp. Two variants include Maharashtrian (where sugar is included in the dough) and Rajasthani (where a sugar syrup coats the cookies). The following recipe outlines the Rajasthani version.

Badam Phrini Ingedients:

  • cup basmati rice (ground)
  • 1 quart milk
  • cup sugar
  • 18 almonds, blanched and sliced
  • 6 green cardamoms shelled and ground, or 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 10 strands saffron
  • 1/8 teaspoon rose water (optional)


For the ground rice:
  1. Rinse the basmati rice three times in water, until rinsing water is no longer cloudy and excess starch is removed. Then drain and place onto a cookie sheet or plate to dry.
  2. Once dry, grind the rice in a coffee grinder or a mortar and pestle until the texture resembles fine semolina flour.
For the Phrini:
  1. Heat the milk in a 2 quart sauce pan until warm. Once warm remove one tablespoon of milk and set aside.
  2. Add saffron strands to the reserved tablespoon of milk and allow the saffron to bloom.
  3. Bring the milk in the pan to a boil. Once boiling, stir in the sugar and ground rice. Lower the flame to medium-low and cook the rice, stirring occasionally to prevent lumps.
  4. With a mortar and pestle, grind half of the almonds into a paste, adding some of the milk to create a smooth paste.
  5. Once the rice is nearly done, stir in the sliced almonds, cardamom powder and saffron infused milk. Reserve some of the almonds for garnish.
  6. Continue cooking for 5-6 minutes, or until the mixture is thickened to a custard-like consistency. The total cooking time should be somewhere around 25 minutes after the rice was added. At this point, remove from the flame and add rose water, if using.
  7. Portion the phrini into serving bowls. Allow the phrini to cool and refrigerate until chilled and ready to serve.
  8. Serve garnished with saffron threads and some reserved sliced almonds.

Shakkarpare Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour, mixed whole wheat and all-purpose (3-1 ratio)
  • 2-3 tablespoons ghee, room temperature
  • cup (as needed) water
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds (optional)

Sugar syrup
  • 1 cup sugar
  • cup water
  • 3-4 saffron threads (optional)
  • Oil or ghee for deep frying


  1. Place the flour mixture in a non-reactive mixing bowl. Add the room temperature ghee and mix into the flour using your fingertips. The mixture should be well incorporated.
  2. Next add water gradually, mixing until a semi-soft dough is formed. Depending on the flour used, the ratio of flour to water will be different. Regardless, the dough should not be sticky.
  3. Divide the dough into three equal sized balls and roll them into circles, 7-8 inches in diameter.
  4. Using a sharp paring knife cut the dough perpendicularly in order to form small diamond or square shapes.
  5. Heat frying oil in a large pot or wok, over medium heat, to around 350-375 degrees Fahrenheit. Ensure that the oil level is not very high. The frying does not require very much oil due to the size of the shakkarpare.
  6. Test the temperature of the oil by adding a small piece of scrap dough. The dough should float to the surface fairly quickly. If it sits on the bottom of the pot, the oil is not hot enough.
  7. Carefully add the raw shakkerpare to the hot oil. Do not overcrowd the pot, as this will diminish the quality of the fry. Each piece should have a small amount of room to move.
  8. When the shakkarpare begin to turn golden brown, flip the pieces using a slotted spoon or spatula. Continue frying and flipping until the individual pieces are a deep golden brown.
  9. Once desired color has been achieved removed the shakkarpare from the oil and allow to drain on a paper towel. Repeat the process until all the dough has been fried.
  1. Add the sugar and water to a pan and heat over a low flame until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Continue cooking until the mixture becomes sticky. At this point, add the saffron if using. Simmer until the sugar syrup has reached a 2-3 thread consistency. It should take roughly 10-15 minutes on medium heat. See the note for how to check this.
NOTE: To check the syrup for proper consistency, take some of the hot syrup from the pot using a spoon and allow it to cool slightly. Take a small portion of the cooled syrup between your index finger and thumb, press and a separate your fingers. As they pull apart, two or three "threads" of syrup should connect the fingers.

Recipe and Photo by Liam Fox
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