Holi Festival Food

Holi festive also known as festival of colors is celebrated in Spring. On the day of Holi, bonfires are lite at night to celebrate the victory of good over evil.

Every festival has a special food associated with that occasion. Growing up for me, it was eating boiled whole wheat sev (noodles) with ghee and sugar. The significance of whole wheat noodles is the coming harvest of wheat, even though these noodles will be made from previous harvest. Once new wheat comes to market, people clean and store it for the entire year, mainly in state of Gujarat. Wheat is coated in castor oil to keep it fresh. The wheat is then taken to mills as needed for flour.

During summer, I remember my mother and neighborhood aunties making noodles by hand from whole wheat flour dough. They will sit on a wooden chair especially made for making noodles. Imagine one side of sea-saw resting in place with other side up. The bottom has a rest where you can sit to make noodles.  In the top side there are ridges in the wood from where you will roll dough with your hands. Young children would sit on the floor to catch noodles and arrange it on a flat sieve (called chalani). These round jali shaped noodles are then dried in the sun (last picture). Dried noodles are stored in air tight container to use throughout the year. The art of making these noodles by hand is dying. Nowadays noodles are made by machines.

For eating, these noodles are simply boiled in water and serve with ghee and sugar. In the picture, along with noodles methi ni bhaji na gota (fenugreek greens fritters), cilantro chutneykathi chutney and Green Papaya Cachumber are served. These dishes are not necessarily associated with Holi festival, but gota, which is savory goes very well with sweet noodles. That was the menu for lunch on Holi this year.

The day after holi which is called Dhuleti, is celebrated with color. People color each other with color powder as well as colored water.  It turns into friendly competition to see who can color most without getting color on themselves. People’s white clothes and streets are covered in kaleidoscopic colors.

The special beverages associated with this day is thandai. It is a milk based beverage fortified with nuts, seeds and spices.

These cookies are inspired by thandai. The spices used in thandai are cardamom, black pepper, fennel seeds, saffron and white poppy seeds. The nuts used are almonds and pistachios. Seeds used are melon seeds instead I have used pumpkin seeds (papitas).

Thandai Cookies

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Serves: 4 dozen

Ingredients
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, soften
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • ½ cup pistachios
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds (papitas)
  • 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 3 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads + 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
Directions
  1. Toast pumpkin and fennel seeds in a pan, 1-2 minutes. Remove from a pan and let it cool for 10 minutes. In the same pan toast poppy seeds just for 30 seconds. Remove from a heat and let it cool for 10 minutes.
  2. Combine almond flour, one cup all-purpose flour, ¾ teaspoon each of salt and baking powder in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine remaining all-purpose flour, salt and baking powder.
  3. Grind poppy seeds in spice grinder or in a mortar and pestle until ground but not forming a paste. Combine with almond flour mixture.
  4. Grind pumpkin seeds, fennel seeds and pistachio in food processor until finely ground but not forming a paste. Combine this with flour only mixture created in step 2.
  5. In a standalone mixer or hand held mixer beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add egg at a time and beat until well combined. Add cardamom, black pepper and beat until just combined.
  6. Remove about ⅓ of butter mixture and add to pistachio mixture. Combine with a spatula or hand mixer until it forms dough. If you wish to color the dough you can add green food color.
  7. Add almond flour mixture and beat until well combined. Remove about ½ mixture in emptied almond flour mixture bowl. If you wish to color the dough you can add food color of your choice.
  8. In a mortar and pestle (or with a rolling pin), grind saffron with 1 teaspoon of sugar. In the remaining dough in the mixer bowl, add saffron. Beat until saffron is well combined. If you wish to color the dough you can add orange food color.
  9. Cover three batches of dough separately in a plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  10. On an approximately 18 by 24-inch parchment paper, arrange 2 to 3 tablespoons of three different doughs in a random pattern. Cover with approximately 18 by 24-inch parchment paper and roll out the dough in a circle of ¼ inch thickness. Cut out cookies in a desired shape. Gather remaining dough after cut outs into a ball. From these make smaller balls with about 2 tablespoons of dough. Refrigerate cookies for at least an hour before baking.
  11. Alternately you can roll out three batches of dough into three to four 6 inches long and 1-inch-wide logs. Make a log by combining one of each color. Cut these logs into 6 equal portions. Twist each portions and formed into a ball. Refrigerate cookies for at least an hour before baking.
  12. Pre heat oven to 325 degrees. Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes. If you want crispy cookies bake for 15 to 16 minutes.
Notes
If you do not want to go through trouble of making separate batches of dough, just combine all flours after grinding. Once butter, sugar and eggs are beaten, add flour and beat to combine everything to make one dough. Refrigerate dough and cookies (cut outs or balls) similarly as above before baking.

 

 

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Pina Colada Tiramisu

Pina Colada Tiramisu

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Serves: 16

Ingredients
  • 1 7 oz. packet of lady fingers
  • ¾ cup pineapple juice
  • 8 oz. Mascarpone cheese
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ Container (9 oz.) of Coconut whipped topping (defrosted for an hour)
  • ¼ cup coconut cream
  • ¼ cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or rum extract or rum
  • 1 cup pineapple (fresh or canned (drained)), ¼ inch diced
  • ½ cup sweetened coconut flakes
  • ½ cup toasted sweetened coconut flakes
Directions
  1. In a stand mixture, whip mascarpone cheese on medium speed until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Add heavy cream, coconut cream and whipped topping. Whip them on medium speed until everything is well combined, 3 to 4 minutes. Add confectioners sugar and extract or rum. Whipped mixture for 4 to 5 minutes, initially on low speed and then on high speed until light and fluffy.
  2. Add diced pineapple and sweetened coconut and whip for 30 seconds.
  3. Soak ½ of lady fingers one by one in pineapple juice and arrange in single layer in 8 inch sqaure glass baking dish. Adjust the size of lady fingers to fit into single layer if needed. Layer evenly ½ of cream on top of lady fingers.
  4. Repeat step 3 on top of cream one more time. Sprinkle toasted coconut flakes on top evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate alteast 4 hours before serving.

 

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Blueberry and Peach Egg less Cake

Blueberry and Peach Egg less Cake

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Serves: 16

Ingredients
For Blueberry Cake:
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • ½ cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup ground freeze dried blueberry (fine powder)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 12 to 15 drops of blue food color
For Peach Cake:
  • Same ingredients as blueberry cake except ground freeze dried blueberry and blue food color
  • ⅓ cup ground freeze dried peaches (fine powder)
  • 12 to 15 drops of yellow food color
For Icing:
  • ½ stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 12 to 15 drops of yellow food color
For decorating:
  • 1 to 1 ½ cups blue berries
  • 1 peach, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon apricot jam with 1 teaspoon water
Directions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare 8 x 8 x 2 inch baking pan by spraying non-stick spray or baking spray.
  3. Make blueberry cake: Combine flour, ground freeze dried blueberry, baking powder, salt in a medium mixing bowl.
  4. In a measuring cup, whisk together buttermilk, vanilla and baking soda until well combine, 1 minute.
  5. In another medium mixing bowl whisk together sugar and oil until sugar is dissolves, 2 to 3 minutes. Add ⅓ of flour mixture and ⅓ of buttermilk mixture and whisk to combine with sugar and oil, 1 minute. Repeat the process for two more times. Stir the batter with spatula to combine everything.
  6. Repeat steps 3 to 5 for peach cake.
  7. First pour blueberry batter into baking pan and level it with offset spatula. Next pour peach batter and level it. Since the batters are thick, they remain separate. Bake the cake for 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cake cool down in pan for 15 to 20 minutes. Invert cake on a cake stand and let it completely cool, at least 3 hours.
  8. Whisk together ingredients of icing in a stand mixture.
  9. Once cake is cool, ice the cake. On top of icing, on one triangle arrange blue berries and another triangle arrange peach slices. Warm apricot jam with water in a microwave for 30 seconds. Brush blueberries and peach slices with apricot glaze. Refrigerate cake for at least 2 hours before serving. Keep left over cake refrigerated and serve within 2 to 3 days.
Notes
You can also other freeze dried fruits to make this cake. To make fine powder of freeze dried fruit, use spice or coffee grinder.

 

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Tri-Color Cake

On January 26, India celebrates Republic Day with a parade in New Delhi. This year’s parade was very special for all of my family, the city of Vadodara, and the state of Gujarat. For the very first time the parade was led by a Gujarati Lt. General, who also happens to be my cousin. To mark this day I made a cake which represents the three colors of Indian flag. I adapted the recipe of Italian Rainbow Cookies to reflect the three colors of the Indian flag: orange, white and green. I used apricot jam and omitted the chocolate coating on top in the recipe.

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Lemon Pepper Cupcakes with Gauva Filling

Lemon Pepper Cupcakes with Gauva Filling

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Serves: 12 cupcakes

This recipe is in honor of one of my uncle. During gauva season in India, he would always eat gauva with salt and pepper.
Ingredients
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 stick (8 oz.) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
For Filling:
  • 4 1 oz. packets of Gauva paste
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
Frosting:
  • ½ stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter, soften
  • 2 oz. cream cheese, soften
  • 2 to 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12 cup medium size muffin pan with liners and set aside.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and pepper.
  3. With an electric hand mixture or standing mixture whisk together butter and sugar until well combined. Add eggs, milk, lemon zest and lemon juice and whisk until smooth.
  4. Add flour mixture and whisk until everything is just blended. Stir the batter with a spatula to combine any remaining lumps at the bottom of bowl.
  5. Pour about ¼ cup of batter into each muffin cup. Bake the cupcakes for 15 to 18 minutes or until top is light golden brown and toothpick inserted comes out clean. Transfer to a wired rack and let it cool for 30 minutes.
  6. While cup cakes are baking make gauva filling. Cut each guava paste packets into thirds. Heat gauva paste with lemon juice and pepper either in a microwave or stove top until loose, like a jam consistency, 7 to 8 minutes.
  7. With an apple corer or a knife, remove small piece (about 1 cm.) of cake from middle of cupcakes. Fill the cupcakes with guava paste, about 1 tablespoon, with a small piping bag or a zip lock bag.
  8. Make frosting: With an electric hand mixture or a stand mixture, beat butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth. Add 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and pepper. Beat on low speed until smooth. If frosting is too loose, add more confectioners’ sugar. Frost the cupcakes using a spatula or a piping bag. Let it stand for 15 to 20 minutes for frosting to harden.

 

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Lemon Cardamom Cupcakes

Lemon Cardamom Cupcakes

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Serves: 12 cupcakes

Ingredients
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 stick (8 oz.) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
Frosting:
  • ½ stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter, soften
  • 2 oz. cream cheese, soften
  • 2 to 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12 cup medium muffin pan with liners and set aside.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom.
  3. With an electric hand mixture or standing mixture whisk together butter and sugar until well combined. Add eggs, milk, lemon zest and lemon juice and whisk until smooth.
  4. Add flour mixture and whisk until everything is just blended. Stir the batter with a spatula to combine any remaining lumps at the bottom of bowl.
  5. Pour about ¼ cup of batter into each muffin cup. Bake the cupcakes for 15 to 18 minutes or until top is light golden brown and toothpick inserted comes out clean. Transfer to a wired rack and let it cool for 30 minutes.
  6. Make frosting: With an electric hand mixture or a stand mixture, beat butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth. Add 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and cardamom. Beat on low speed until smooth. If frosting is too loose, add more confectioners’ sugar. Frost the cupcakes using a spatula or a piping bag. Let it stand for 15 to 20 minutes for frosting to harden.

 

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Banana Cream Pie

Banana Cream Pie
Banana Cream Pie

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Serves: 8

Ingredients
Pie Crust:
  • 1 ½ cups vanilla wafer crumbs, finely crushed
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
Custard Filling:
  • 2 cups half and half milk
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 ½ tablespoons corn starch
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 medium size bananas
Whipped Cream Topping:
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions
  1. Make pie crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine wafer crumbs, sugar and melted butter in a mixing bowl with hands until wet. Press the crumbs into the bottom of 9-inch pie dish and on the sides. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Let crust cool.
  2. Make custard filling: Bring half and half and ¼ cup sugar in a medium sauce pan. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk to gather egg, egg yolks, corn starch and ¼ cup sugar until smooth.
  3. Once milk is hot, pour quarter of milk into egg mixture and combine. Pour another quarter of hot milk into egg mixture and whisk to gather. Transfer egg mixture to sauce pan with remaining hot milk. Cook on medium-low heat, whisking continuously until mixture thickens and bubble, 2 to 3 minutes. Cook for one more minute and off heat add butter, vanilla extract and whisk until smooth. Transfer custard to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap touching top of custard to prevent skin foaming. Let it cool to room temperature and then refrigerate for couple of hours.
  4. Make whipped cream: Combine heavy cream, sugar and vanilla extract in stand mixture bowl or mixing bowl. Whisk cream in stand mixture or with hand mixture until peaks forms.
  5. Slice three bananas into ¼ inch slices and arrange evenly on bottom of pie crust. Smooth half of custard filling over bananas.
  6. Repeat step 5 and then spoon whipped cream in rustic peaks, covering top layer of custard filling.

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Cream Cheese Tart with Orange, Pistachios & Cardamom

Cream Cheese Tart with Orange, Pistachio and Cardmom

Cream Cheese Tart with Orange, Pistachios & Cardamom

Prep time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 8

Ingredients
  • 15 Maria cookies
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup toasted pistachios
  • ¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 plus ⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 3 tablespoon orange marmalade
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, soften
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon orange zest
  • Orange segments from one orange
Directions
  1. To make the crust, in a food processor, break Maria cookies into smaller pieces; add pistachios, 1 teaspoon of cardamom and ¼ cup of sugar. Pulse it until it becomes crumbs. Add melted butter and pulse it until mixture is moist.
  2. Press the crumb mixture into bottom and sides of tart pan. Cover the tart pan and freeze it at least for an hour. The crust should be solid before adding filling.
  3. To make the filling, in a stand mixture with a whisk attachment, whisk cream cheese until smooth. Add 3 tablespoons of sugar, orange zest, ⅛ teaspoon of cardamom and heavy cream. Whisk again until mixture is smooth and fluffy.
  4. Spread the orange marmalade on top of cooled crust. Pour the cream cheese filling. Smooth out the filling. Garnish with orange segments. Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours before serving. Finish the tart within two days.

 

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