Thandai to Gujiya: Celebrating Holi with traditional Indian snacks and dishes

Updated: March 26, 2021 2:43 PM

Happy Holi! The time to celebrate the festival of Colours, Holi is approaching fast. Also, the cases of COVID-19 are rising again. The situation is once again not normal. But, Indians, known to adapt to adverse situations, are getting ready to accept the 'new normal' for safety with full enthusiasm, joy, and creativity.

holi foodsMouthwatering delicacies complementing the traditional aspect are a must to have during any festival, and they are an integral part of Holi.

By Pradeep Chamaria, 

Happy Holi! The time to celebrate the festival of Colours, Holi is approaching fast. Also, the cases of COVID-19 are rising again. The situation is once again not normal. But, Indians, known to adapt to adverse situations, are getting ready to accept the ‘new normal’ for safety with full enthusiasm, joy, and creativity.

Do not let the global pandemic ruin your Holi celebration. We can always celebrate togetherness through special foods for our festivals. Besides smearing each other with bright hues of abeer made of herbs, gulal, and colours, making, sharing, and relishing a lot of scrumptious Holi delicacies, both sweet and savoury is a tradition and a must.

Celebrating Holi the normal way

Holi is a wonderful, colorful and celebratory spring festival, and is India’s most vivid, joyous festival and has been celebrated since the 4th century CE. Every festival in India signifies something, and it goes true for Holi too. Associated with the holiday spirit and symbolising the victory of ‘good’ over ‘evil’, the triumph of Lord Vishnu and Prahlad, and the end of the evil ‘Holika.’

Holi marks the beginning of spring after a long winter and is symbolic of the triumph of good over evil. The festival, celebrated on the full-moon night of ‘Phalgun’ signifies, freshness, beauty, and color, and in 2021, Holi celebrations will be begin on 28 March.

On the eve of the festival, large pyres made of wood, dried cow dung, dead leaves, and twigs are lit in many parts of India to signify the burning of evil spirits. Following up on the festivities, next morning, called ‘Dhuledi’, people play with colored powder, throwing it into the air and splashing them on others. Entire streets and towns turn red, green, and yellow. And once you are dead tired, later in the day, it’s time for festive meals.

Mouthwatering delicacies for Holi

Mouthwatering delicacies complementing the traditional aspect are a must to have during any festival, and they are an integral part of Holi. And, just like the varied culture of India, you find regional specialties depending on the region. In North India, you have ‘Gujias’ and ‘Puran Poli’ in parts of Maharashtra and south India. ‘Thandai’ (a cool drink made with almonds, milk, sugar, and spices) is served in large quantities and is quite often mixed with bhang (an intoxicating ingredient) as a part of the customs.

Here is a list of traditional Holi delicacies for your reference:

Gujiya – an authentic Holi sweet

Holi celebrations in North India are incomplete without Gujiyas, deep-fried flour pastries, filled with khoya, dry fruits, and sooji, and dipped in sugar syrup.

Daal ka Halwa

Halwa made with Moong Daal, and garnished with ground dry fruits is a Rajasthani delicacy and is a must during Holi in Rajasthan.

Laddoos

The Indian sweet map can never be complete without a ball-shaped sweet, called Laddoo. Laddoos come in endless variations; besan, motichur, til, boondi, coconut, and so on.

Laddoos like Gujiya have a significant role during Holi. In fact, people even play Holi with laddoos in Barsana town of Uttar Pradesh, and it is called Laddoo Mar Holi, where people sing, dance, and throw laddoos at each other, and later consume them as prasad.

Malpua

You can’t celebrate Holi without the indulgent, soft, velvety, and syrupy Malpua, a pancake-style dessert made with all-purpose flour, semolina, khoya, and topped wih kesar and cardamom in Eastern states like Bihar.

Puran Poli

Puran Poli, scrumptious and filling, is a favourite Holi special sweet in Maharashtra. It’s a sweet buttery flatbread resembling the roti and is prepared with stuffing (Puran) served with ghee (clarified butter) or milk.

Other sweets

There also is the classic barfi, an evergreen traditional sweet, Kesariya Kheer, India’s traditional rice pudding, saffron Rice and many others that are relished during Holi.

Among the savouries, Dahi Vada reigns supreme, followed closely by mini Kachoris, and Dhuska.

Dahi Vada

Dahi vada is the favourite Holi savoury that makes everybody drool for more. Dahi vada is prepared by soaking fried dough balls made of urad dal or chickpea flour in yogurt (Dahi) and garnished with cilantro, chili powder, crushed black pepper, chaat masala, cumin, green chilis, or boondi.

Kachori

How can you forget kachori, the traditional Indian snack, the fried round flattened balls made of fine flour with varied stuffing and named Mogar, Raj, Pyaaz, Nagori, Mawa, Lilva, Heeng, Banarasi, etc. in your Holi special list of dishes. This savoury delicacy which originated in the Marwari community in Rajasthan is a spicy mixture, eaten with tamarind chutney.

Dhuska

Dhuska is an extremely popular breakfast dish in the states of Jharkhand and Bihar. Made by frying rice, dal, chilies and garlic, Dhuska is the major Holi savoury in Jharkhand and Bihar. Dhuska is generally served with Ghugni, a creamy curry made of black chickpeas, as the accompaniment. Ghugni tastes amazing when garnished with exotically spiced onions, chilies, cilantro, dried mango powder, and crushed pomegranate seeds.

No festival in India is complete without exotic beverages. And some must-have beverages are:

Lassi

Lassi originated in Punjab and is one of the most popular beverages in North India. A yogurt-based drink blended with water and other varying ingredients can be made sweet or savoury. Various flavours can also be added with fruits, and it tastes exotic when a scoop of malai is added on top of the drink. It is one of the two most refreshing drinks during Holi celebrations.

Thandai

Thandai is a popular drink in Rajasthan and other northern Indian states. It is a perfect beverage for the hot summer that’s going to take over from spring after Holi. Thandai is made with saffron, almonds, sugar, milk, and a different variety of herbs.

(The author is a well-known travel and lifestyle writer. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online. All Images provided by the author.)

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