"The greatest Indian cook in Britain"Jay Rayner "The Observer"
"Cook with love. Love your cooking" Gita Mistry

Monday, 12 March 2012

Happy Holi Days

Today is the last day of Holi, a spring festival of fertility and harvest which also marks some Hindu legends. It has been celebrated for at least 1,400 years as it was mentioned  in the 7th century Sanskrit drama, Ratnaval.  Celebrated particularly in  North India, it falls on the day after full moon during the month of Phalunga, which overlaps with February and March.

Although originally a religious festival, Holi is now associated with colour. Revellers of all ages splash anyone within range with  buckets of water water and clouds of dye.  Not a day for suits or saris.  Ladies of a certain age who should know better take particular delight in forming gangs called tolis exchanging greetings and smearing the faces of those they meet.

The reason for the colouring is that  Lord Krishna is said to have smeared his beloved Radha with dye.  And that is why Holi is also associated with love - a little like St Valentine's day in England. In the evening there are bonfires and candles - just like Guy Fawkes day except its Holika a demoness.  Like Christmas it is a season of goodwill.   People forget their quarrels for the day.  Folk of all castes, classes, creeds, races, sexes surrender to the rhythm and let themselves go.

It's a great excuse to party with dancing on the streets and massive consumption of bhang.  What is bhang?   Well you have heard of marijuana brownies in California.  "Heavy, man!"  It is a bit like those only more so.   Being a respectable, law abiding lady you wouldn't expect me to give you the recipe for it, now would you.

One recipe that I will give you is for thandi, a milky drink with almonds.  Now it is supposed to have bhang in it but you can make it without and that's what I am telling you to do. :-)

You will need:

1 glass of water
½tsp Cardamom Seed
2 whole Cloves
2ozl of  Raisins
2oz of blanched and chopped Almond
1oz of chopped Pistachio
half the amount of melon seeds
600ml ltr Milk
1/4th tsp dry-roasted and powdered Saffron  
Fennel seeds are strong in flavour so mind how many you put in. 1½tsp
is a  good measure- add more or less to taste.
Rose petals and black pepper to garnish
Soak the fennel cardamom & gloves in the boiled water. Leave to rest for 15mins, to that add the cold milk leaving 60ml of milk aside ( warm this to soak the saffron in) both types of nuts, melon seeds and raisins, and set aside for 45 mins, add the saffron milk, blend to a paste and strain, served chilled with crushed ice, garnish with a touch of black pepper and rose petals

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