Holi is a Hindu festival that celebrates Spring. While many know it as the festival of bright colours, Holi food deserves its own celebrating. Holi begins Thursday March 1, 2018 and runs for two days.
The Holi Festival is one of the most important periods of the year in India and Nepal. While it originated in Asia, you will now also see Holi events held throughout the world in March.
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One of the most distinctive parts of the festival is the tradition of spraying others with water and also throwing coloured powders over other people. It must be one of the most instagrammable festivals anywhere in the world.
There are many foods that are given particular prominence during the event. Holiday Holi food are worth looking out for and tasting if you get the opportunity.
Traditional Holi Food
These little dumplings look like mini Cornish pasties. However, they are sweet and made with Maida flour, which is stuffed with the sweet dairy product khoya, dried fruits or coconut.
The vada in this snack is a flour ball that has been deep fried. This Holi food is served in a thick yogurt and topped with savoury herbs and flavourings such as chili powder, black pepper or mint.
These fried fritters originated in India, but they are now common across the region. They are made with a light batter similar to onion bhajis. Along with onion they may be combined with meat, spinach, potato, cheese or other vegetables.
Barfi are small treats that are made with condensed milk, sugar and ground nuts or flour. They are cooked until solidified, usually giving a dense sweet layer. This sweet Holi food is cut into pieces and can be decorated with sliced nuts or fruit.
Also known as kheer in some parts of the region, this dish can be a main meal or a dessert. It depends whether or not it has been sweetened. Phirni is essentially a rice pudding made with rice, broken wheat or tapioca, which has been cooked with milk and sugar.
Originating in the south of India, Puran Poli is a sweet flat-bread. For centuries this has been a traditional food usually sweetened with jaggery or sugar. Puran poli may also contains cardamom and sometimes nutmeg too.
This popular fast food favourite from northern India is common during the festival. A popular Holi food made with crispy dough wafers served with chickpeas and boiled potatoes, tamarind chutney and yogurt. Many cities will have stalls and carts selling this tasty dish.
Made with the chickpea variety known as chana, this dish is common in the west and north of India. The chickpeas are cooked dry with a range of masala spices, along with dried mango powder and crushed pomegranate seeds for flavour.
One of the more interesting drinks. Cannabis plants are crushed into a pulp then combined with milk, refined butter, mango and spices. Not surprisingly bhaang is enjoyed for its liberating effects.
This popular Holi food are small deep fried wheat flour parcels covered in a sugar syrup to add the sweetness.
A savoury treat that is similar in texture to a mini poppadom, these snacks have a spicy kick that is provided by chili powder and black pepper. Besan papdi are ideal for parties and to entertain guests during the Holi festival.
Originating in the West Bengal region of the country, this dessert is made with sweet dough balls. Ras Malai are stuffed with creamed rice, saffron and pistachio nuts, and then served with a sweet cardamom cream.
The malpua is similar to a pancake. Its batter includes crushed banana, coconut, flour and milk, while cardamom provides a little flavour. There are also varieties made with mango or pineapple. During Holi many people will serve them with a sugar syrup.
A savoury dough pocket that is best when eaten fresh and crispy. The Namak paare dough is made with three types of flour and then combined with carom seed for flavour. It’s then fried in short strips and can either be eaten as is or dipped in a pickle.
Kanji Ke Vade
Light and spicy, the kanji ke vade are definitely one of the easiest snacks to prepare for Holi. It is a basic recipe of flour, asafoetida, mustard seeds and red chili which is crushed into a light paste and then deep fried.
This Holi food is mainly found in Rajasthan and the north of India. Thandai is a very popular drink made with almonds, saffron, milk, sugar and a variety of herbs. It’s also possible to find a version made with bhaang for the extra effect.
These small pastry balls are stuffed with a savoury spicy mixture. Kachori are a perfect finger food and are often accompanied by a tamarind chutney for dipping. The most common filling includes horse beans, gram flour, red chili powder and black pepper, while there are plenty of regional variations too.
This Holi food is available all year round in the traditional salty version or as a sweeter drink flavoured with fruit. Lassi isn’t limited to mango. It is a light blend of yogurt, water and spices, and whether it is sweetened or not, is usually served chilled. A bhaang lassi is also common during the Holi festival.
One of the most common Holi food side dishes that you will see during the festival. Saffron rice makes use of the fairly expensive herb to give the rice a delicate flavour. Saffron is notoriously expensive so this is a luxury as most people would not use saffron on a regular basis.
Mattar Ki Kheer
An unusual combination that will make most people think twice, it is actually quite delicious. This rice pudding with green peas is sweetened and served with raisins and pistachios to make for a tasty and creamy dessert.
Kesari Malai Peda
Soft in texture and with a gentle, sweet flavour, these little balls are made with thickened milk or cream. Kesari malai peda have a gentle spice from saffron and cardamom, and are common in many different festivities, but particularly during Holi.
Spicy and savory, these crackers are made with a simple dough and then generously seasoned with a variety of spices including carom seeds. Malasa mathri are a tasty snack that is easy to store and transport during the festival.
What Holi food have we missed? What would you add as number 24, 25 and 26? Let us know in the comments below!
second image (c) Duca di Spinaci