Vivek at Holi
“Holi is an annual spring festival that takes place over two days and is celebrated across India and beyond. It follows the lunar calendar and falls on March 17 and 18 this year. On the evening of the first day, people light a bonfire and throw all their trash into it. It is symbolic of putting an end to the old and looking to the future, the passing of winter and the arrival of spring. The next day starts early, depending on your degree of fanaticism. People visit each other’s houses, grab a handful of nuts or candy, and say “Happy Holi!” as they run and play with colored powders.
In a traditional society like India, Holi is one of the few times when people of all religions come together. You don’t have to be a Hindu to celebrate Holi – it’s a, come all. There’s a feeling of melancholy after Christmas when the festivities are over, so Holi breaks the mood brilliantly. You’ve got all these people in suits going about their business – then about 20 people throwing paint on complete strangers and going home with green and yellow hair! It is a liberated and free-spirited festival. We celebrate Holi at Cinnamon Kitchen in the City of London and also at an outdoor pop-up area where you can make a colorful mess. I’m not a fan of authenticity, and the only rule about Holi is that there are no rules. You just need to fully enter the spirit. Let go, be open and welcoming – and invent your own new traditions.
The Holi celebration menu at Cinnamon Kitchen is available throughout March. For more details visit cannelle-cuisine.com.
Holi celebration menu for six to eight people
Click on each image below to access individual recipes.
Thandhai (spicy milk cooler)
“It is the quintessential Holi drink, which was originally fortified with cannabis (not included here!). It is believed to be the favorite drink of the god Shiva,” says Vivek.
Aperitifs and starters
Jodhpuri mirchi vada (chili fritters stuffed with spicy potatoes)
“These stuffed peppers are popular all over northern India. Choose milder peppers for less heat.
Papdi chaat (crispy wheat biscuits with spicy potatoes and chutneys)
“You can’t imagine Holi without chaats (snacks). These crispy wheat discs are dipped in a sweet and sour tamarind chutney and eaten loaded with spiced potatoes, zesty cilantro and refreshing yogurt. Serve them as a “mess” in a bowl like nachos or as delicate canapés.
The main course
Khela kalia (West Bengal lamb curry / holiday meat curry)
“This festive dish can be prepared on any public holiday, or even on a Sunday. In my ancestral village in West Bengal, it is called khela kalia – there is a similar recipe called special Sunday meat curry (robibarer mangsho ).
The side dish
Subz mutter pulao (mixed vegetable pilaf)
“In northern India, this vegetable pilaf is a staple of Holi. The vegetables used here are those that are in season locally in the spring, but you can substitute any seasonal root vegetable you might have. It is also good with dried fruits and nuts.
“This recipe, courtesy of my mother, is a simple dessert to make and a family favorite in the Singh household. This is a classic Indian home cooking recipe that has a million variations – every family thinks theirs is the best. Malpua are especially eaten as snacks during Holi.