After all, what is Holi without food!

When you say Holi, of course, the splash of colour is what first comes to the mind. But the thought that follows is of the fun, revelry, and mouth-watering delicacies we get to relish around this time. As cliched as it sounds, no Indian festival is complete without a lavish spread of food. While all of India gears up for the high-spirited festival, we compile a list of the special treats from different parts of the country prepare on Holi.


Gujiya
Gujiya, a deep-fried pocket with a sweet filling, is an important part of Holi celebrations across Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and a few other states of India. Each state has a version of gujiya unique to itself. Some of the popular variants of this Holi-special dish includes perukiya, karanji, ghugra, karjikayi, and nevri. The people in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi know of this sweet as gujiya and their version is stuffed with khoya (milk solids) and dry fruits and dipped in sugar syrup. In Bihar and Jharkhand, it is known as perukiya and comes with a filling of semolina and khoya. Unlike UP and Delhi, these aren’t dipped in sugar syrup. Coming to west India, Maharashtra’s variant of gujiya is karanji, which is stuffed with fresh coconut, dry fruits, nutmeg powder and cardamom powder, while Gujarat’s is called ghughra. The Gujarati version of this Holi sweet has semolina, coconut, sugar, and dry fruits. Last, but not the least, is Goa’s nevri, which has a filling like ghugra, but contains poppy seeds instead of semolina.


Also read: Give a modern twist to the traditional gujiya with this chocolate gujiya recipe by Ripudaman Handa


Malpua
Another dessert that has fans across India is this deep-fried pancake called malpua. It is one of India’s oldest known dessert and its origin goes back to over 3000 years in time. The first reference to these pancakes can be found in Rigved, where it is called ‘apupa’. The dessert has evolved over time and, today, while some states make malpua with a simple batter of maida (refined flour), semolina, milk, and yogurt; others complexify the flavour by adding fruits such as pineapples and bananas or spices. Except for the Bihari version, where sugar is added to the batter, most other variants of malpua are immersed in a thick sugar syrup before serving. Malpua can be eaten on its own or accompanied by a bowl of chilled rabdi.

In case you’re in the mood to experiment, you can even try chef Sabyasachi Gorai’s unique take on malpua –
the five star malpua. Check out the Hindi recipe video here:

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Also read:
Indian Mithai to Relish in Winter

Dhuska
A deep-fried disc, dhuska has its origins in Jharkhand but, with time, it has become a known delicacy in Bihar too. The main ingredients of a dhuska are grounded rice, chana dal (split Bengal gram), ginger-garlic, and chilli. Sometimes, even boiled

potatoes are added to these discs. It is usually eaten with chutney, ghugni (a black chickpea curry), potato curry or raw jackfruit curry and pickles. This crispy Holi snack can also double up as an appetiser at brunch/dinner parties or be eaten as breakfast with ghugni - just how the Biharis like it. Dhuska or dhooska is available at street food stalls in Bihar and Jharkhand.

Learn how to make this Holi-favourite dhuska from chef Ajay Chopra in this one-minute Hindi recipe video:

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Chaat
Sure, chaat may be available all-year round, but the experience of enjoying these snacks during Holi celebrations can’t be described in words. Holi is ‘the’ occasion to devour chaat items. From dahivada (aka dahi Bhalla), papdi chaat to dahi puri and pani puri, there is a long list of chaat variants in north India for people to choose from. Green chutney, tamarind and jaggery chutney, beaten curd, chaat masala powder, and freshly-chopped coriander are few of the ingredients that are common among most chaat forms.

Dahi vada aka dahi bhalla is one of the most famous variants of chaat. The origin of this chaat is not known, but dahi vadas are a part of the street food menu in Punjab, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, and Tamil Nadu. Click here to check out its step-by-step recipe. And if you’re short on time, then here’s an
instant dahi vada recipe by LF expert Gurdip Kohli Punj.

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Jilipi
Jilipi, which is popularly known as jalebi across India, is a traditional sweet dish eaten in West Bengal on Dol Purnima (Holi). It is made by deep-frying a mix of maida, curd, and water. Once fried, the dessert is soaked in sugar syrup before serving. Apart from the usual, channar jilipi is a popular variant of jalebi in this part of the country. Channar jilipi or paneer jalebi is made with chenna (cottage cheese) and is soaked in a cardamom-flavoured sugar syrup.

 

If you want to learn how to make jalebi at home, check out this Hindi recipe video by LF expert Gurdip Kohli Punj. She has got the secret to making the crispiest jalebis.

 

Also read: 5 things that go well with jalebis

 

Mawa Kachori
A Rajasthani speciality, mawa kachori or khoye ki kachori is a crispy pastry stuffed with sweetened milk solids, dry fruits (cashew nuts, almonds, pistachios, and walnuts), and grated coconut. Mawa kachori's crust is made with all-purpose flour, clarified butter, and lukewarm water. The kachoris are deep fried on low to medium flame in desi ghee or oil and then dipped in a cardamom-infused sugar syrup.

If you’re not a big fan of sweet kachoris, LF experts have an array of savoury ones for you to try – think pyaaz ki kachori, sweet potato kachori, and arbi ki kachori. Kachoris are a famous street food in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar too. In these states, these heavenly bites are relished with vegetable/potato curry and raita.

Also read: Delicious raita recipes for biryanis and parathas

Puran Poli
Puran poli is a flatbread prepared on Holi in Maharashtra. It is made with refined flour and stuffed with chana dal (split Bengal gram), jaggery, cardamom powder, nutmeg powder, and ghee. This sweet flatbread is also made on special occasions in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka too. The people in Karnataka know of puran poli as holige, Andhra Pradesh as bakshalu, and those in Tamil Nadu, opputtu. The stuffing and thickness of puran poli varies from place to place. In Maharashtra, puran poli is best accompanied by amti, an appetising lentil recipe made from the leftover chana dal filling. This Holi special delicacy also makes for a great evening snack.

Also read:
7 ways south Indians eat flatbreads

Kanji ke Vade
Kanji ke vade is an interesting street food + drink from Rajasthan and parts of north India. It is specially prepared during festivals and acts as a palate cleanser after binge-eating sweets and snacks loaded with sugar and oil. These are split moong dal balls deep-fried and soaked in a fermented liquid called kanji or rai (mustard) ka paani. This tangy liquid is made with water, mustard, asafoetida, chilli, and salt. The snack is best served chilled with a generous portion of kanji so that you can enjoy a large sip of the drink once the vadas are polished off. Kanji for this delicacy is usually prepared a day or two in advance to ensure its flavour mellows down.

Aloo ke Gutke
Holi celebrations in Uttarakhand start right after Vasant Panchami in parts of the state and it is celebrated by singing songs and relishing delicious local delicacies. The food of Uttarakhand showcases the state's indigenous produce and uses several unusual herbs and warming spices such as mustard and fenugreek.  Cooked using Pahari aloo (hill potatoes), aloo ke gutke is a must-have during Holi in the state. These local potatoes are cooked with local spices such as jakhiya (a seed of cleome viscosa) and jambu (a perennial herb, dried and used as kasuri methi). It is a no onion-no garlic recipe and boasts of an earthy comforting flavour. Another popular Holi treat from the state is bal mithai, which is made of milk condensed with cane sugar.

Bhaang ke Pakore
No Holi celebration is complete without some bhaang (hemp). There are many dishes that are prepared using bhaang in different parts of India. However, the most popular, and most easy-to-make, are bhaang ke pakore (hemp seed fritters). The batter for bhaang ke pakore is a mixture of gram flour, turmeric, dry mango powder, sliced onions, salt, chilli powder, and bhaang seed powder. It is deep-fried to perfection and is best accompanied with green chutney. Now, this is just the basic recipe of this Holi special dish. People tweak it as per the availability of ingredients and taste preferences. There are many people who add vegetables such as spinach and brinjal to the batter.


Shakkar and Namak parre
Not just Diwali, shakkar parre and namak parre are a hit during Holi celebrations too. Shakkar para or parre are a popular snack in Maharashtra, Gujarat, and parts of north India. These are bite-sized crispy and crunchy snacks made from all-purpose flour, semolina, salt, sugar, milk, and ghee. In Maharashtra, these are known as shankarpali. Namak parre are the savoury version of shakkar parre. The ingredients for namak parre are the same, except for sugar. Both these snacks can be made ahead of Holi and can be stored in air-tight containers.

Must try:
Baked Namak Parre by Maria Goretti
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Matar ki kheer

An unusual sweet dish, matar ki kheer is a celebration of green peas, which are available in abundance during the winter season. It isn’t a traditional delicacy, but, with time, it has become a part of Holi celebrations for many in north India. Matar ki kheer features coarsely ground boiled green peas cooked in full-fat milk with sugar and cardamom powder. Imagine the sweet, mellow flavour of the peas combined with sweetened milk – divine, right?

Matar ki kheer is just one of the many recipes that has the oh-so-versatile green peas as the hero ingredient. Different parts of India have their unique way of making the most of this ingredient. For matar lovers, here is a list of green pea dishes from across the country – there’s West Bengal’s favourite koraishutir kochuri, Uttar Pradesh’s nimona, and Manipur’s mangal kangtak.

 

Tahiri
A Sindhi delicacy, tahiri (sweet saffron rice) is another dish that can be enjoyed during the festival of colours. Traditionally, it is prepared with aromatic spices such as cardamom and shahi jeera and sweetened by jaggery or refined sugar. This Sindhi recipe preparation is yellow in colour, which comes with the use of saffron or a few drops of yellow food colour. Tahiri is served as a main course dish alongside raita and sai bhaji, a Sindhi specialty cooked with leafy vegetables and lentil) or bhee aloo (lotus stem and potato curry). The combination of sweet and spicy may seem like a no-no at first, but, trust us, tahiri and curry are delicious together.

 

Thandai
Okay, thandai aka sardai may not be a food item, but the elaborate Holi spread and celebrations is incomplete without this drink. Thandai is a cool and rich milk-based drink that is a staple during spring and summer seasons in north India. Melon seeds, khus khus, fennel seeds, almonds, black peppercorns, cardamom seeds, saffron, dried rose petals, pistachios, sugar, and full fat milk are the ingredients of a traditional thandai. Follow our step-by-step guide to make the perfect thandai at home. Apart from being an instant thirst quencher, the drink comes with amazing health benefits, thanks to the variety of ingredients used to make it. The rose petals and fennel seeds help cool the body down and improve digestion, while peppercorns boost immunity.

Thandai is a versatile drink and can be prepared in many ways apart from the traditional one. There’s rose mango thandai, which is made by adding mango puree to the drink; then there’s kesar thandai, prepared by adding strands of saffron. A popular variation of thandai is the bhang thandai, a cannabis-infused drink. The bhang thandai has an intoxicating effect on people and hence, is not advised for children.

For people not in the mood for a drink, thandai can also be transformed into a dessert. Chef Pankaj Bhadouria has a delicious thandai mousse recipe for you, while LF expert Maria Goretti can help you with a thandai mousse cake.

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