Everyone enjoys traditional Holi sweets, but this Holi they come in a modern avatar and a global twist.
Holi is about colours, but the celebrations are incomplete without food. Kanji vadas, namak pare, dahi bhalle and Thandai may all be part of the Holi spread, but sweets occupy a special place during Holi. Mawa peda, puran poli, gujiya, geeyar and malpuas are a must on the table.
Celebrated with much zeal across regions, the essence remains the same and the sweet meats eaten are quite different. Bengalis love their fennel scented fluffy pancakes, malpua, while north India relishes gujiya, ladoos and barfis. People in western India, especially Maharashtra and Gujarat, prepare puran poli with a chana dal stuffing on Holi and down south, Mysore Pak is typically eaten.
Traditional Vs Modern
Traditional sweets have always been associated with festivals, but to break the monotony and shed the image of these being rich and sinful, a fun and modern twist is being given to many of these sweets. And the ones prepared on Holi are no exception.
One cannot imagine a holi festivity without the traditional crescent-shaped mawa or khoya filled, gujiya. A rich filling of khoya, raisins, desiccated or grated coconut and cardamom powder, covered with maida and deep fried in ghee, is what makes this sweet unique.
While most households adhere to the classic versions of gujiya, many are opting for contemporary and interesting fillings, but deep fry it nevertheless for the crunchiness.
Pumpkin and pineapple halwa, mascarpone cheese, date, figs and prunes, are some of the avante-garde fillings today that have made their way into Indian kitchens, instead of the typical khoya used for gujiyas.
Malpuas, the velvety deep-fried pancakes in hot syrup, often eaten with creamy rabdi, are again being given a twist. It is now being served with flavoured low fat yoghurt. Chef Mriganka Roy, Sous Chef at Hyatt Ahmedabad, however prefers multigrain flour malpuas with soya milk rabdi. He feels it is a much lighter dessert and yet, luscious and flavourful.
The usual creamy mawa barfi is being replaced by date or anjeer barfis. Dry fruits enhance the texture of these barfis and are touted as a healthier option too. The rich and milky kalakand has been done away with, and people are opting for blueberry kalakand in several places now. The scrumptious chandrakala filled with mawa is now being filled with chocolate to tantalise the taste buds of the younger generation, who are not too fond of Indian flavours. Halwas have suddenly caught the fancy of home chefs and shops alike and are being reinvented. The basic suji halwa has been replaced by Moong dal halwa, green apple halwa, badam halwa and shakarkandi halwa for special occasions like Holi.
At The Suryaa, New Delhi, baked Gajar ka Halwa that avoids over cooking of carrot, is prepared. The ingredients are similar, but the method of preparation has changed, thus making it healthier, yet, not compromising on the taste.
Use Local, Think Global
It’s not as if only Indian sweets are being given a spin in order to have a wider appeal. Many now prefer nouvelle desserts instead, on Holi. Remaining true to traditional ingredients, they create global desserts. Thandai mousse cake, gulkand fondue, boondi cheesecake and gulab jamun chocolate cake, are some of the popular innovations. The inventive presentation of these sweets, further enhances their appeal.
Similarly, cheesecake, a popular western dessert, has got integrated with Indian flavours and many versions are emerging in hotel kitchens. Boondi cheesecake and malpua cheesecake are now being made. Cupcakes, too have been given an Indian twist. These are being topped with gulkand, rabdi, gajar ka halwa and mishti doi. French desserts are being married with Indian flavours. Kalakand eclairs and thandai macarons are being created by innovative chefs to woo gourmets.
Taste Plus Health
Given the lifestyle changes, owing to health concerns, sweets and desserts are being altered to suit evolving palates. Chef Sanjay Thomas, The Suryaa, New Delhi, suggests fruits be incorporated into traditional sweets, without compromising taste or flavours. “We prepare Green apple jalebis with less oil and sugar on Holi. Also, instead of refined flour, semolina can be used in some dishes or brown sugar can replace white sugar,” he elaborates.
Ladoos too can become healthier with oats as a substitute and mawa samosas can be baked to avoid frying, according to Chef Roy of Hyatt Ahmedabad.
So this Holi, fret not if you are not tucking into the usual ghee-laden syrupy Indian sweets. Instead, be experimental and pamper yourself with some modern Indian sweets and ‘glocal’ desserts.
(Written by Mini Ribeiro)