New Delhi: The purifying ritual of Holika Dahan as bonfires light up across the country to signify destruction of evil; the palpable excitement in the air as young children and adults stock up on gulal and water guns for the celebrations ahead; the slight nip in the air that signals winter's last caress with spring well upon us.
All these and more mark the arrival of the most vibrant Indian festival, Holi. From the bustling lanes of Mathura and Varanasi to the sprawling beaches of Goa, this day is truly as colourful as the country's cultural diversity, celebrated with joyous excitement by people from all walks of life.
An integral part of Holi festivities is definitely food -- different kinds of sweets, savouries, and beverages prepared exclusively for this occasion.
Team SaleBhai has put together some easy recipes of Holi favourites that you can prepare to wow your friends and family.
-Gujiya - No Holi party is complete without gujiya, the sweet dumplings made with flour and a delicious filling of khoya or coconut. Here's how you go about it:
Ingredients: For the dumpling: 2-3 cups maida or flour, 4-5 tbsp ghee (clarified butter), and water for the dough. For the filling: 1-2 cups khoya or shredded coconut, 1 cup sugar, 1 tsp elaichi (cardamom) powder, ½ cup chopped dry fruits, and ghee for frying. For the syrup: 1 cup each of sugar and water.
Method: For the dumpling, start by kneading the flour, ghee, and water together till you get a stiff, flaky dough. Let it rest for ½ hour. Put a pan on medium heat and saute the khoya/shredded coconut to a brown colour. Take it off the heat and let it cool before adding the elaichi powder and chopped dry fruits.
Now prepare the dumpling by making dough balls and roll them out. Place bite-sized pieces of the filling on one half of each rolled-out dumpling and moisten the edges with water so it sticks to the other edge. Twist the edges of the prepared dumpling to give the trademark gujiya look.
Now, heat ghee in a deep kadhai (wok) and slowly place the dumplings. Fry till gujiyas turn golden brown. Next, boil the water with sugar together till it reaches single-thread consistency. Dip each fried gujiya in the syrup and let it dry. Garnish with chopped dry fruits and serve either hot or at room temperature.
-Malpua - Malpua is a syrupy pancake made with maida and khoya. The recipe for this delicious treat is below:
Ingredients: 1-2 cups maida, 1-2 green cardamoms (ground), 1 tsp crushed saunf (fennel seeds), ½ cup milk or 2 tbsp mawa or ¼ cup evaporated milk, ¼ cup of water or as required for the batter, ghee or refined oil for frying, and 1 cup each of sugar and water for the syrup.
Method: Stir the mawa/evaporated milk till it reaches a smooth consistency. Add in the flour, cardamom powder, and fennel seeds and mix till everything blends. Add water to improve the thickness of the batter as required. Let it rest and prepare the syrup by boiling sugar and water till it reaches single-thread consistency. Turn off the heat.
Now, heat oil or ghee in a deep pan on medium heat, pour in half a ladle of the batter and let it spread. Shallow-fry the malpuas till they turn golden brown on each side. Drain and add them to the sugar syrup. Garnish the syrupy pancake with chopped almonds or pistachios and serve hot.
-Mix vegetable pakoda - Pakodas are enjoyed by everyone as a snack. The crispy, savoury bites can be prepared with any vegetable. It's easy to prepare, see for yourself:
Ingredients: ¼ cup gram flour (besan), ½ cup each of potatoes (boiled and quartered), cauliflower (florets) & onions (sliced), 1 tsp soda-bicarb, 1 tsp carom seeds (ajwain), 1 tsp chilli powder, salt to taste, water to prepare the batter, and refined oil.
Method: Mix besan with salt, chilli powder, soda-bicarb, and carom seeds. Add water to get a thick batter that can coat the vegetables properly. Heat oil in a deep pan. Drop and deep-fry each batter-coated vegetable piece till it turns crispy brown. Serve hot with mint chutney.
-Ram ladoo - Another much-loved Indian snack, Ram ladoo is available throughout the year but continues to be a classic Holi favourite. Whip up a batch this week with this simple recipe:
Ingredients: 1-2 cups yellow lentil (moong dhuli), ½ cup Bengal gram (chana dal), 1 tsp red chilli powder, 1-2 green chillies (finely chopped), 1 inch of ginger (grated), salt to taste, and oil for frying.
Method: Wash both dal thoroughly before grinding them into a coarse paste. Beat the mixture till it becomes light and fluffy and has a texture just right to make round balls. Add the chillies, salt, and remaining ingredients. Mix well. Heat oil in a pan on medium flame and fry the prepared balls till golden brown. Serve hot with mint chutney.
-Thandai - Thandai is the perfect drink to enjoy with tempting Holi treats. Prepare some in a totally fuss-less manner:
Ingredients: 750 ml milk, ¼ cup ground almonds, seeds from 7-8 pods of green elaichi, 1 tbsp black peppercorns, 2 tbsp rose water, 5-6 tbsp sugar, and rose petals for garnish.
Method: Roast the cardamom and black peppercorns and set them aside. Soak all ingredients (except milk) in water and set them aside for a couple of hours before grinding into a fine paste. Mix the paste with milk and put it through a sieve or muslin to get rid of any lumps. Garnish with rose petals and serve chilled.