8 Recipes to Sweeten your Holi Celebrations

For Holi isn’t only a celebration of colours, but also flavours

Annabelle D’Costa

You know that the festivals of colours is here when your otherwise dull gullies start filling up with a steady roar of chatter, laughter and screaming of “Holi Hai!”, and start getting painted in colours of several vibrant shades.

This onset of new season not only translates into the colourful festival of Holi but also celebrates agriculture, fertile land and good harvests. That said, ask any desi and they’ll be quick to tell you that Holi is incomplete with gulaal, pichkaris, some dhinchaak music and of course the Holi special thandais, mithais and sweets. So to get you into the festive mood, here are some crowdsourced Holi recipes:   

Almond and Holy Basil Thandai Recipe
By Chef Manish Mehrotra, Indian Accent

A smooth, milk-based drink, usually topped with rose petals, almonds, fennel seeds, melon seeds, rose petals, pepper, vetiver seeds (khus khus), cardamom and saffron, thandai is cooling and refreshing. While a tall glass of thandai defies seasonality, it is usually preferred during Maha Shivratri and Holi as a healthy way to stave off the heat and up one’s festive spirit. Here’s a almond and Holy basil thandai recipe to get you into the mood:


2 tbsp almonds, soaked and peeled
2 tbsp melon seeds, soaked
1 tbsp poppy seeds, soaked
1/2 cup almond slivers
1/4 cup sugar
a pinch of saffron strands
4 fresh holy basil leaves
2 cups milk
1/2 tbsp green cardamom powder
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1/4 cup fennel seeds, soaked  


1. Make a smooth paste of fennel seeds, poppy seeds, and almonds.
2. In a heavy bottom pan, bring the milk and saffron strands to boil. Dissolve the sugar in the milk.
3. Grind the fresh holy basil leaves and black peppercorns to a smooth paste and add it to the milk.
4. Add the almond, poppy seeds and fennel seed paste along with cardamom powder and almond slivers to the milk and simmer it for 2-3 minutes.
5. Refrigerate the thandai.

Rangilo Jamun Recipe
By Kamlesh Rawat, Executive Chef, Radisson Goregaon

No celebration is complete without stuffing your face with the sweet and juicy, solid milk-based gulaab jamuns which are usually soaked in a rose and cardamom flavoured sugar syrup. As you ditch the ready mix or the store-bought gulab jamuns, here’s a rang biranga recipe just to keep the festive spirit in place.


250 gm soft khoya 
100 gm paneer 
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp milk
1 tbsp milk powder
1 tbsp beetroot paste
a few strands of saffron
ghee, for deep frying

For the sugar syrup: 
300 gm sugar 
1.5 cups water
1 tablespoon rose water
½ teaspoon cardamom powder
a few strands of saffron


1. Take 250 grams of khoya in a bowl. Make sure to mash and knead well leaving no lumps in the mixture.
2. Grate fine 100 grams paneer, three tablespoons all-purpose flour, one tablespoon milk powder and last, one tablespoon of milk. Mixed well and so as to get a smooth paste, take the help of a wet muslin cloth.
3. To a small portion of this mixture, add the beetroot paste and some saffron. Make small-sized balls, and keep aside.

For the sugar syrup
1. In a pan, add two cups sugar and one-and-a-half cups water. On a medium flame, heat the pan and allow the sugar to dissolve.
2. Add half a teaspoon cardamom powder, saffron and one tablespoon rose water.
3. Add some ghee to a pan, and when it's hot enough, fry the stuffed balls until golden brown in colour. Once ready, soak it the sugar syrup.
4. Serve hot or cold with some nuts.


Rangi Birangi Khaja Recipe

By Kamlesh Rawat, Executive Chef, Radisson Goregaon

This flakey layered pastry that oozes of sweetness is a welcome dish at almost every desi festival. Ghee laden, deep-fried and stuffed with khoya or dry fruits, with each bite exuding crunchiness, the khaja makes for a wholesome and filling sweet. With Holi upon us, it's only fair that we add a bit of colour to pep things up a bit:


1 cup maida/ all-purpose flour
1 cup ghee 
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp milk
1 tbsp beetroot paste
1 tbsp orange paste
strands of saffron
ghee, for deep frying

For the sugar syrup: 
1 1/2 tbsp sugar 
1.5 cups water
1 tbsp. ghee for layering
1/2 tsp pistachio
2 tbsp refine flour


1. Add the maida in one bowl. In this, add the ghee and enough water to make a smooth dough out of it.
2. Divide the dough into three equal parts knead it again separately by using saffron milk, beetroot paste, orange paste.
3. Roll out the all doughs into circular-shaped rotis and apply ghee on one side. Sprinkle a little bit of maida on it. Overlap it with another roti and repeat the process and roll it out together.
4. Rest it for 10 minutes and then cut it into small circles.

For the sugar syrup:
1. Add the sugar in a pan and add 1.5 cups water. On a medium flame, bring to a boil so that the sugar begins to dissolve. And a little amount of milk in it to remove impurities from sugar.
2. Heat ghee in a vessel and add the khaja circles in it. Fry till golden brown in colour. Soak them into the sugar syrup for about two minutes.
3. Remove it on a plate and garnish it with some nuts.


Doodh Jalebi Recipe
By Suresh Thampy, Executive Chef, Holiday Inn Mumbai International Airport

Nothing brings us more joy than biting into warm crispy-yet-chewy deep-fried jalebis, whilst the sugary syrup drips down our fingertips. Jalebis are typically made using maida, they can also be made using split black gram flour, wheat flour, rice flour and maybe even semolina. Whatever you choose, don’t forget to enjoy them with a glass of hot milk or rabri.


3 cups maida
1 cup curd
1/2 cup corn flour
3 cups sugar
5 strands saffron
1-2 tsp cardamom powder
4-5 tbsp ghee
2 tbsp baking soda
4 cups sunflower oil
4 glasses water
4 tsp rose essence
2- 3 drops edible food colour
1/2 cup milk


1. Mix the maida, cornflour and baking soda in a bowl. Add ghee and orange food colour in the above mixture. To make a thick batter, add curd and water.
2. Mix well until it is thick but has a pouring consistency. Keep it aside for 8 hours or overnight.
3. To make the sugar syrup, heat water in a pan over medium flame. Add sugar and mix until fully dissolved.
4. Simmer the syrup until it attains one string consistency. Add saffron, cardamom powder and rose essence. Stir well.
5. Heat oil in a pan over medium flame for deep frying. Now fill the jalebi batter in a muslin cloth and pierce a small hole in the cloth. Alternatively, you can use a sauce dispenser.
6. Squeeze the muslin cloth to make concentric circles.
7. Fry till jalebis are crisp and golden.
8. Soak the jalebis in sugar syrup for 2-3 minutes. Ensure that the sugar syrup is warm and not very hot.
9. Now remove from the syrup and place it on a tray lined with butter paper or foil. Decorate with silver foil and serve the jalebis hot, warm or at room temperature with creamy rabri.


Puran Poli Recipe

By Suresh Thampy, Executive Chef, Holiday Inn Mumbai International Airport

Puran Polis, rotis packed with a sweet stuffing of lentils and jaggery, tend to rule everyone’s heart and are best relished during the season of colours. While the Maharashtrians usually prefer their puran polis with a warm bowl of amti or dal, you could just have them plain or with a dollop of ghee.


2 cups maida
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp cardamom powder
Salt, as per taste  
1 cup milk
3 cups chana dal
1/3 cup ghee
1 glass water
refined oil, as required
1 tsp nutmeg powder
1/2 cup rice flour


1. Take a bowl and mix flour and water. Knead well to make a stiff dough.
2. Cover the dough and keep aside for one hour.
3. Now take a pressure cooker and add chana dal and water in it.
4. Put the cooker on the gas and heat it over a high flame. Pressure cook the dal and once it's done, strain the excess water.
5. Transfer the dal in a bowl and allow it to cool. Once the dal has cooled, add it in a pan and heat it over moderate flame.
6. Add sugar along with 1/2 tbsp of ghee. Keep stirring.
7. Cook on low flame till the gram mixture is soft and sticky. Once it's done, turn off the flame and keep the mixture aside.
8. Now knead the dough again, adding salt, water and oil, little at a time, till the dough becomes pliable.
9. Grind the dal and sugar mixture to a smooth consistency adding a little milk if it is too dry. Add cardamom powder and nutmeg powder.

10. Now take a lump of the dough and a little larger lump of the dal mixture. Stuff the dal mixture in the dough like paratha and roll out round.
11. Heat the ghee on a hot griddle and put the puran poli on it. Keep pressing and turning it so that it cooks well on both sides. Keep adding ghee all around to brown it evenly without sticking to the griddle.

Gujiya Recipe

By Chef Mayank Chopra, Indian School of Hospitality, Gurugram

That gujiyas are synonymous with Holi is known. What’s not to love about these sweet dumplings that are stuffed with varied fillings ranging from khoya and dry fruits to coconut and jaggery. If you’d like to skip your halwai's offerings this Holi, you could give this gujiya recipe a try at home. Tip: these fried, crispy dumplings are best-enjoyed garama garam.


For the dough:
500 gms flour
70 gms ghee
Wter, as required

For the filling:
250 gms khoya
150 gms palm jaggery
80 gms freshly grated coconut
5 gms green cardamom powder
3 gms cinnamon powder
A sprinkle of salt
Ghee, for frying
Chandi warq, for decoration


1. Mix the melted ghee with the flour until the flour starts resembling breadcrumbs. Add water and knead the flour to a soft dough.

2. Simultaneously, cook the khoya, palm jaggery along with freshly grated coconut on a low flame until its colour changes. Then add green cardamom powder, cinnamon powder and salt.

3. Set aside and allow to cool.

4. Divide the dough into small even-sized individual portions.


. Roll out each divided dough like a puri and fill it with one teaspoon of the prepared mix.
6. Seal the edges of the flattened balls with a little water and twist them decoratively. If you have a mould, you can easily mould them giving them all a uniform size and shape.
7. Score the gujiyas finely with a fork to prevent them from puffing up too much.
8. Heat ghee in a pan and deep fry the prepared gujiyas in hot oil for 8-9 minutes till they turn golden in colour.
9. Remove and drain on a kitchen paper towel.
10. Lay them flat in a tray and decorate individual pieces with a sheet of chandi warq. Serve the golden yet crunchy gujiyas hot or at room temperature.


Seviyan Recipe

By Chef Mayank Chopra, Indian School of Hospitality, Gurugram

Picture soft individually flavoured thin noodles swimming in a chilled or warm (as you like it) custardy base, topped with the goodness of nuts and fruits - light, impossibly rich, and just oh-so irresistible! Yes, we’re talking about seviyan or kheer, which takes no more than 30 minutes and can be pulled off using ingredients lying around in your pantry.


70 gm vermicelli
25 gm pure ghee
400 ml full cream milk
50 gm fine sugar
5 gm green cardamom
2 gm cloves
20 gm almonds 
10 gm sultana/kishmish 
fresh rose petals for garnish


1. Roughly crush the vermicelli.
2. Cut the almonds into thick slices. Soak the sultana/kishmish in hot water and set aside.
3. Heat the ghee and fry the almonds. Drain and keep aside.
4. Lightly fry the cloves and the cardamom and add the vermicelli. Cook till it turns slightly brown.
5. Add the milk and bring to a boil. Simmer on a slow fire till the milk thickens.
6. Add sugar and sultanas. Remove from the fire.
7. Allow to cool completely.
8. Before serving, adjust the consistency of the kheer. Transfer a portion to a serving bowl and garnish with the fried almonds. Can be served warm, at room temperature or cold.


Malpua Recipe
By Chef Naresh Singh Rawat, Jr. Sous Chef, Courtyard by Marriott Bengaluru ORR (Outer Ring Road)

Holi calls for a lot of sweets and one such Holi special sweet is the malpua. Pancake-like, ghee-laden and sugar-soaked, malpua, a traditional North Indian sweet is best relished with rabri. Extra points if you get the crispy edges right.


200 gm all-purpose flour
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp powdered green cardamom
1 cup ghee
250 ml water
50 gm khoya
100 gm semolina
1/2 tsp baking powder
500 ml milk
250 gm sugar
Saffron, as required


1. To prepare the sugar syrup, place water in a pan over medium flame. Add sugar in it and stir until fully dissolved.
2. Then add 2-3 tsp milk and stir again, after a few minutes remove the scum that rises to the top.
3. Once the sugar syrup is thick, remove the pan from the flame and keep aside.
4. Mix all-purpose flour, semolina, khoya, baking powder, fennel seeds, cardamom powder and milk.
5. Ensure that the mixture has a pourable consistency and is not too thick.
6. Once the batter is ready, keep it aside for few minutes so that the flavour of spices and herbs are fully absorbed.
7. To fry, heat ghee in a pan over low flame. Next, pour a ladleful of the mixture and spread evenly. Keep the flame low and cook until it is light brown on both sides.
8. Remove the cooked malpua and drain the excess ghee.
9. Drop the malpua in sugar syrup and allow it to soak for 10 minutes. Repeat the same with the remaining batter.
10. Drain the malpuas from the syrup, garnish with pistachios and serve hot.


Happy Holi!

Images: Shutterstock.com


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