Bura na mano Holi hai!

What’s unique about Holi is the riot of rich colours which when combined with high spirits rejuvenates life on earth. Holi Festival is a celebration of life, love, happiness and good spirits!

Holi, the most colourful of Hindu festivals, falls on the full moon day in the Hindu month of phagun, which is the month of March as per the Gregorian calendar. LathmaarHoli, DulandiHoli, Rangpanchami, HolaMohalla and Shimgo are some of the names Holi is known as. The customs and traditions are more or less the same with miniscule changes in different regions. It is one of the most famous and widely celebrated festivals in India. As it is with every Hindu festival, Holi is associated with a lot of traditional sweets and savories.

Not to forget, some of my most fond childhood memories are associated with Holi. As the cold winter months would fade, marking the arrival of spring, me and my friends would eagerly wait to start our Holi celebrations! We would go to the market in large groups where there would be an entire stream of shops displaying all the things we need to celebrate a grand Holi! Mounds of powdered colours, pichkaris of every imaginable shape and size, gulal, water balloons, food items – you name it! Getting drenched in water and colour and going back home exhausted only to be welcomed home with the smell of hot crisp gujiyas and other treats my mother would prepare for Holi. Sigh! Those were the good old days.

Holi is a time to forgive and forget all woes of the past and begin new friendships. People throw water balloons and gulal on passersby’s and follow it up by saying “bura na mano holi hai!” It works as a way to get away with almost anything on this day. People indulge in singing and dancing on special Holi songs, spraying coloured water with pichkaris, enacting plays based on Holi legends, etc. Large common Holi celebrations are organized, where rain dance is a common attraction. Holi is one of the most interactive and social festival I know of. People get together and celebrate in union, irrespective of the caste, creed, age, gender or status. Eco friendly Holi is a concept which we must welcome. Use of limited amounts of water and herbal colours to play is good not only for the environment, but also for our personal health. We could also celebrate Holi with tomatoes, like they do at the Tomatina Festival in Spain!

Holi calls for a lot of activity and activity activates hunger pangs! If one travels across India, one could probably have a taste of various regional sweets. The one binding factor across the states is the beverage called thandai that is specially prepared on the occasion of Holi. Thandai can be in two versions: one that has bhaang (cannabis) and the other tamer version for kids and for those who do not want to get inebriated!

The buds and leaves of cannabis are squashed and ground into a green paste in a mortar with a pestle. Milk, nuts and spices are then added. Some prefer to add the leaves to fried savoury dumplings called pakoras and as the unsuspecting guests consume them the intoxicating effect of the bhaang becomes evident. While bhaang has never been a part of my personal Holi celebrations, there is another drink known as – kanji! My mother used to make the traditional gajar ki kanji, by soaking pieces of carrots (preferably black carrots) in a mixture of water and spices for a couple of days. Back then I used to avoid drinking this as much as possible but now I absolutely love it! I will surely be making it this time and so should you as it is a healthy and nutritious addition to any Holi menu!

At the more organized Holi parties, food orders are outsourced to catering companies. However, the real deal lies in making the treats yourself!

Traditional Holi eats:

 

While it is very important for us to celebrate our rich heritage, it is also extremely essential to conserve and not pollute existing resources around us. Keeping this in mind we can easily cut back on some of the more extravagant ways of celebrating this festival by using eco friendly herbal colours, ensuring minimal water wastage, avoiding dangerous rubber balloons, maintaining hygiene and ensuring that everyone around us is having a safe Holi. Remember, Holi is a festival of colours, joy and celebration! The real way to celebrate is to spread the universal message of love to one and all. Let the spirit and colours of Holi make a big splash in your life in the most positive way ever.

Here’s wishing one and all a very happy and a colourful Holi!

How to enjoy your Diwali sweets without guilt

Diwali sweets are too tempting to be denied! But those with a sweet tooth could easily go overboard consuming the calories. Well, eat your Diwali sweets in moderation and try these following tricks if everything else fails. In fact, these tricks do allow you to have the any calorie dense dessert and not worry too much about weight gain. Dessert or a sweet at the end of a meal signals to your brain that the meal is over. Without it you may not feel full.
1. Take a bite. But don’t swallow it. Hold it in your mouth, let it slowly melt on your tongue. Enjoy it. Slowly savour all the flavours. Go really slow. Really taste it. Then have two more bites exactly the same way. That’s ‘The End’ for the dessert course! Does this work? Yes, it does. How? The first two or three bites are the best bites of anything. After that your taste buds focus back onto the original bite. The taste buds then operate on memory of the original bite. According to nutritionists, it always helps to pick whatever you want because it satisfies you more. Then limit the portion size.
2. Reject all the deep fried mithais like gulab jamuns. Try rasgullas – a version like Small Rasgulla with Fresh Fruit Rabdi. From these you can squeeze out the excess sugary syrup.
3. Or make your own mithai like Gaurpapdi using jaggery. This can be made using less amount of ghee if you use a nonstick kadai. Add nuts for better nutrition. You can also serve a dessert like Gur aur Badam ki Phirni instead of rich basundi or rabri.
In case you want something very different for your collection of Diwali sweet recipes, make a note of this Sweet Potato and Sago Kheer: Peel 500 grams sweet potatoes and cut into thin slices. Cook them with two tablespoons of soaked sago in two cups of water till sweet potatoes become soft. Add one cup grated jaggery and mix. Grind four cups scraped coconut with four cups of water and extract three cups of thick coconut milk. Add to sweet potato mixture. Continue to cook for five minutes. Add half teaspoon green cardamom powder and a pinch of salt. Stir and remove from heat. Serve warm.

10 top Diwali recipes and serving ideas

What could be more wonderful than getting our hands on good quality mithais for Diwali at reasonable prices! Well, the going is tough with some mithais touching more than 500 Rs a kilo! So what could be best as gifting ideas for friends and relatives? Yes, you guessed correctly: make your sweets at home. Two things are ensured….they will be hygienic and of good quality because you are buying the best of the raw ingredients. And the price? They are priceless because of the love that goes into them as you enjoy your cooking and the appreciation that you will win from your friends and relatives.
So what is best for homemade Diwali sweets that can be boxed? www.sanjeevkapoor.com has a plethora of sweets and you only have to choose what takes your fancy. You could gift them in nice food grade plastic boxes decorated with a little glitter. Suggestions that are likely to come your way are of: Anjeer and date burfi, badami besan ke laddoo, balushahi, boondi laddoo, choco coconut laddoos, chocolate and nut karanjis, dry fruit and khajur laddoo, gajar pista burfi, kaju pista roll, pineapple burfi, two coloured coconut barfi…
If you are the adventurous sort try out some different Diwali recipes at home. Here goes:
Like covering gulab jamuns with boondi. Serve them in halves, garnished with pistachio flakes.
A bread pudding with peas puree. It is different and tasty.
Chocolate samosa that will evoke a lot of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’. Simply fold some grated chocolate in a samosa patti and deep fry. Serve immediately.
Santra basundi with oranges giving it a wonderful tang.
Those who look forward to salty and savory crunchies….there is something in store for you too!!
Coming up next: Indian snack recipes –Diwali ideas