The Taste Of Holi
If you are going to celebrate Holi this year, there’s only one way to do it – with great fanfare and flourish. This month, Holi celebrations will take place around the worldand the two-day festival will see bonfires being lit, prayers being spoken, colourful powders being thrown, food being feasted upon, and the only way to greet anyone being with an enthusiastic “Happy Holi!” With so much going on the celebrations descend into what can only be described as a riot (a good-natured riot, of course).
Holi (also known as DolJatra, Basantotsav) is the Hindu festival of colours that is celebrated each year to mark the end of winter and the start of spring. In India, Holi is a time when social barriers are broken down and groups of people come together to celebrate – regardless of age, gender, caste, status or wealth.
As well as everything else, Holi is also about spending time with friends and family, exchanging gifts, decoratingyour home and eating food –and plenty of it. Holi is the perfect opportunity to eat dishes that awaken the senses and keep the spirits high. Here are some of the most popular items eaten during Holi:
Gujiyas: Native to Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, gujiyas are sweetened dumplings filled with a delicious mix of coconut, dates, nuts, sultanas and khoya (a thickened dairy product). Deep-fried and shaped like Cornish pasties, when you take a bite you instantly get a taste of the sweet, sticky centre.
Kachoris: These spicy snacks vary depending on which state you are in. When in Rajasthan (often cited as the birthplace of kachori) they are round, flattened balls of puffed pastry filled with a mix of dal, besan (gram flour), black pepper, red chilli and other spices. Kachori are generally served with a chutney as an accompaniment. Sweeter versions are also popular, often filled with coconut and dipped in a sugar syrup.
Puran poli: Particularly popular in the state of Maharashtra, puran poli is a sweet, buttery flatbread. Stuffed with a mixture of lentils, jaggery, cardamom, saffron and nutmeg, puran poli are finished off with a smattering of ghee to add even more flavour.
Thandai:This sweet, creamy milk-based drink is popular all year round in India and is usually flavoured with cardamom, fennel and poppy seeds. However, come Holi, the drink is regularly ‘enhanced’ with the additional of bhang (a derivative of marijuana) to make sure the festivities really get going.
If you are looking to celebrate Holi this year, why not include a visit to one of London’s fine dining Indian restaurants in your festival itinerary? On the menu at these prestigious restaurants you will find dishes that not only have their roots in traditional Indian culinary styles, but that are also cooked in a contemporary way. As well as authentic flavours you can also experience authentic surroundings in restaurants well known for their opulent decor and traditional cultural themes. So, if you are looking for a Holi celebration that is full of fanfare and flourish, you know where to go…