Spring is nature’s way of saying “Let’s party!” – Robin Williams
We just had the most gorgeous sunny day yesterday. After months of snow and miserable weather it was a reassuring sign that spring is surely on its way. Holi is one of my favorite reasons to look forward to Spring! Those that know me well, know that I LOVE Holi and look forward to it every year.
Holi is a two day spring harvest festival celebrated all throughout India. It is also known as “The Festival of Colors”. Bonfires are lit the on the eve of the festival. The second day the celebration continues by people throwing colored powder and colored water at each other. It is a joyous and festive occasion which welcomes spring and brightness in every one’s lives. (Think color run times ten!) Huge parties are held and parks are filled with people of all ages celebrating the festival of colors. Chilled lassi or thandai served with hot crispy pakora’s are common snacks during this time. Thandai, literally translates to ‘something that cools’. It’s a sweet, creamy milk drink flavored with nuts and spices. On Holi, Thandai is sometimes mixed with bhaang (a derivative of marijuana), however in more recent times adults have started to mix in Vodka or Gin!
One of my favorite stories my late Nanaji (maternal grandfather) told my brother and I was about my mom and how one Holi she “accidentally” drank Thandai that had been spiked with bhaang. After drinking the refreshment my mom swore that she felt as if she were walking on clouds. My brother and I were in tears and have never let our mom live that one down. You can always count on grandparents to embarrass your parents with childhood stories =].
Even though Little Mirchi isn’t old enough to play with the powdered colors (everything is going in her mouth of late) I am eagerly looking forward to celebrating her first Holi and cannot wait until she’s old enough for color and water fights!
4 cups milk
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon raw unsalted pistachios
1 tablespoon raw unsalted almonds
1 tablespoon melon seeds
1 teaspoon khuskhus (poppy seeds)
1 teaspoon saunf (fennel seeds)
10 cardamom pods
8 black peppercorns
½ teaspoon rose water
few strands of saffron
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, as garnish
Makes 4 servings
The night before you plan on making Thandai, soak almonds in water. The next morning remove from water and peel the skin off, dry, discard skin and reserve bare almonds. Bring milk to a boil in a saucepan. Add sugar, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Once the sugar dissolves add saffron and reserve for later. In a heavy bottom pan toast pistachios, almonds, melon seeds, poppy seeds, fennel seeds, cardamom pods and peppercorns over medium heat until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes, let cool. In a coffee grinder or food processor add nut and spice mixture and pulse until fine powder. Add rose water to the reserved milk and whisk nut and spice powder until frothy. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, pressing down on solids. Refrigerate until chilled. When ready to serve, mix Thandai to ensure spices have not settle at bottom and garnish with grated nutmeg and crushed pistachios.