Friday, March 14, 2014

bring the colours to your food this holi : kanji vada, dahi vada, thandai and gujhia for the spring festival holi

Holi is the spring festival in the North India, the festival of colours as it was meant to be. Spring colours were brought into homes, flowers of Palash or Tesu (Butea monosperma), Marigold, Rose petals and Red Sandal wood were used for spraying on each other, I wish I lived in the older times. The chemical colors and the rowdy hooligan nature of this festival puts me off since childhood. I would most preferably stay at home and indulge in some festive foods. Gujhia was always a favourite and now I make a fried version of gujhia and a baked version of gujhia too. This year I have prepared for a fruity stuffing for my gujhia, will share that soon.

Thandai is synonymous with holi and Banaras, the Cannabis leaves are used in this drink for this occasion as this is the season for Bhang (cannabis) drinks.. Falgun that is :-)
And I already had a really nice thandai at Oxford book store, it was bhang free for obvious reasons, will make my own thandai tomorrow may be.

Want to tell you how may garden is full of spring colors as well. Here are a few pictures..

Dahi vada and malpua was another must do on holi, I still try and make these as these are the only ways we feel the festivity. We make fresh hot malpuas for breakfast on the day of holi and I am yet to post the recipe here. I promise to get that done this time around. I have posted a syrupy version of malpua but the deep fried version of malpua is more like doughnuts without the holes. The recipe is definitely coming here very soon.

I made the kanji vada, deep fried urad daal (skinned black lentil) fritters soaked in a fermented drink called kanji. These are so yummy people are known to crave for them when kanji is not available, though one can make kanji easily at home. Just dip the small vadas in the kanji and refrigerate for a day, it stays well for a week if refrigerated.

To make the vadas you have to follow the recipe for plain dahi vadas. Soak skinned urad daal (black lentils) overnight, drain the water and blend it into a smooth paste. Whip the paste into a smooth and light batter. Now drop small spoonfuls in hot oil and deep fry on medium heat. Drain and dunk all vadas in the prepared kanji. Refrigerate and serve as required.

For dahi vadas I used the same batter, just the vadas are made with a hole. These vadas have to be soaked in hot water for 2 hours, drain and then dip them all in whipped yogurt mixed with seasoning.

Serve chilled topped with whatever you like.

Dahi vada recipe has been posted long back. I make different version many a times, going back to my grandmother's recipe of ginger and black cardamom spiced dahi vadas sometimes. This dahi vada is a plain vada made without any seasoning in the batter, the same batter as the kanji vada as mentioned.

The dahi (yogurt) is lightly spiced with salt, pepper, roasted cumin powder and mint powder. A generous sprinkling of coriander greens, some pomegranate seeds and sonth ki chutney is all it requires. One can add a few more ingredients like crushed papdi, chopped onions, green chutney etc and convert it into a dahi vada chaat.

The soaked dahi vadas in yogurt mix can be refrigerated for 2 days. If you keep them dry it can be refrigerated well for a week. Just soak them in hot water till soft, drain and soak them in whipped yogurt mix.

This season I was lucky to witness holi celebration at the Oxford Book Store at Connaught place where a team from The Park was doing a live demonstration of a few holi recipes. They made pistachio and almond thandai, gujhia, namkeen pare and a really nice gulab ki kheer.

It was wonderful to witness colours of holi in a bookshop. I loved the gulab ki kheer the most. Thandai was really good too with rich green colour of pistachios.

Bringing more holi recipes really soon. I am focusing on the malpua as that is one of my childhood favourites and I make it just once a year. Wishing you all the happy colours of spring, more happiness more peace. Stay away from chemical colours and chemically flavoured foods.

Stay tuned for more recipes here..


  1. Dear Sangeeta,
    There are a whole lot of local esoteric foods that I'm not familiar with. This is certainly one of them on my list.
    I remember Rishi Kapoor(the actor) talked about kanji in one if his interviews. Recently I watched a travel show on BBC or was it Rick Steves travel show, cannot pinpoint it , but they mentioned the same drink made and consumed in the country of Turkey of all places.
    Here is a link

    as always, you bring forth the gems among the jewels.


    1. Thank you so much Kamal. Knowing about the Turkish Salgam is a revelation of sorts, what is the origin of black carrot kanji then? A question we will keep pondering over :-)