Holi — celebrated on March 18 — is an ancient Hindu festival, also known as the “Festival of Love”, and the “Festival of Colours”. It celebrates the eternal and divine love of Radha Krishna, with celebrations and good food.
Celebrity chef Anjum Anand, whose family hails from New Dehli, connects Holi with the joy of being with family and friends. Arguably, these connections with family and culture are more important than they’ve ever been.
“Street food is very much at the forefront of Holi celebrations as people roam the streets of India celebrating the day,” Anand tells POPSUGAR Australia.
“Or, when people are over, it is normally through the day, evenings are often spent with the family so outdoor food, street food and sharing platters prevail.
“Some of our favourites are pakoras, samoas, dahi bhallas (which are a lentil dumpling smothered in seasoned yoghurt and served with a chutney). Delicious Kathi rolls and chaats are also on offer; depending on which region you are in, the food will vary slightly.”
That being said, these are three complete recipes by Anjum Anand, for you to try this Holi.
“North Indians have a love for chaat, the finger-licking street food which comes in many guises. You wouldn’t actually find this type on an Indian street, but it takes super-quick crisp baby spinach pakoras and mixes them with typical street food yogurt chaat-style ingredients.
“The resulting bite is crispy, hot, cold, creamy, herby and ever so tasty. Although this is deep-fried, it doesn’t absorb a lot of oil and still feels fresh. When it is hot outside, I often chop up some frozen Tangy Herb Chutney (I always have some frozen) instead of defrosting it and place little pieces on top; it looks better and is really interesting in the mouth.”
Makes 10, serves 5 (can be doubled)
For the Chaat: 50g (generous ⅓ cup) chickpea flour 1 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch) ⅓ tsp salt ¾ tsp ground coriander ½ tsp chaat masala ⅛ tsp ground turmeric ⅛ tsp chilli powder, or to taste Good pinch of carom seeds (delicious, but omit if you don’t have any) 40g baby spinach, really roughly chopped Vegetable oil, to deep-fry
Tangy Herb Chutney (Makes 200ml): 60g coriander leaves and some stalks 2 tbsp lemon juice, or to taste 20g mint leaves 25g pistachios (shelled weight) Salt ½ garlic clove (optional) 4 tbsp water
To serve: 150g Greek style yogurt 1 good tsp roast and ground cumin seeds Salt 5 tbsp sweet tamarind chutney 5 rounded tsp Tangy Herb Chutney Sev (small crispy vermicelli, optional) Pomegranate seeds (optional)
Mix together all the dry ingredients for the chaat.
Add 4 tbsp water and stir well, then put in the spinach and stir well to mix. It will be a bit gloopy.
Heat a large wok or karahi with 7.5 – 10cm of oil. When the oil is hot (around 180°C), or until a tiny piece of the spinach mixture sizzles straight away, take walnut-sized balls with your hands and flatten so they are 1 – 1½cm thick. They will be irregular, which will help them be crispy.
Add them all, then reduce the heat a little and fry until golden brown, turning occasionally.
Remove with a slotted spoon and place on kitchen paper to blot off any excess oil.
To serve, whisk the yogurt with the roast cumin and salt it lightly.
Place two spinach pakoras on to a small plate, I like to arrange them overlapping each other at an angle.
Dollop over 2 tbsp of the yogurt, leaving the edges clear so they remain crispy.
Spoon over 1 tbsp sweet tamarind chutney and 1 rounded tsp Tangy Herby Chutney.
Sprinkle liberally with the sev or pomegranate seeds, if using, then serve.
For the Tangy Herb Chutney:
Blend all the ingredients until smooth and creamy; it might take a minute or so.
Taste and adjust the seasoning and tang (lemon juice) to taste.
Keep in an airtight glass jar in the fridge or freeze until ready to use.
Hyderabad Chickpea Biryani
By Anjum Anand Serves 6
Ingredients 1 tbs. vegetable oil and 2 tbs. Ghee 400g Basmati rice, washed really well several times until the water runs clear 750ml water 5 cloves 5 green cardamom 1 stick cinnamon 1 bay leaf 2 small onions, finely sliced For the chickpeas 3 tbs. vegetable oil 2 x 400g can boiled chickpeas, drained and rinsed 4 fat cloves garlic, grated into a fine paste (around 2 good tsp.) 1 good tsp. ginger paste (fresh is best) ¼-½ tsp. red chilli powder or to taste 2 tsp. coriander powder 2 tsp. cumin powder ½ tsp. turmeric powder 2 tsp. garam masala powder 4 tbs. yoghurt 2 medium tomatoes, roughly cut up 3 tbs. each chopped mint and coriander Large pinch of saffron 4 tbs. Milk 20g butter Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste Handfuls of raisins and roasted cashew nuts, crispy browned onions and fresh chopped coriander for garnish (use as many or as few of these, the more the better).
Wash the rice really well in several changes of water or until the water runs clear. Leave to soak.
Heat the oil and ghee in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan which has a lid.
Add the whole spices and cook for 30 seconds or until aromatic. Add the onions and ½ tsp. salt and cook until soft, stirring occasionally, then turn the heat up and cook until golden.
Meanwhile, drain the rice and add it into the golden onions. Stir well over a high heat to dry off any excess water and coat the rice in the oil for about 2-3 minutes.
Add your water to the pan, taste and season well. The water should taste a little salty or the rice will be a bit flavourless. Bring to a boil then cover and turn the heat right down. Cook undisturbed for 7-8 minutes then test a grain, if it is done, take off the heat and set aside for 10 minutes, if not, leave to cook another minute or so.
Once steamed, spoon onto some open plates to prevent overcooking. You can use this pot for the final assembly.
Blend together the tomatoes and yoghurt.
Heat the oil in a medium-large sized saucepan.
Add the onion with a good pinch of salt and cook until really soft then turn the heat up and cook until properly golden.
Add the ginger and garlic and cook gently for 30-40 seconds or until the garlic is now golden and smells cooked.
Add the powdered spices and more seasoning with a splash of water and cook until the water has evaporated.
Add the blended tomato mix and cook over a high-ish flame, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil and then reduces to a thick paste (this stops the yoghurt splitting). Now turn the heat down a little and cook until the paste darkens.
Add the chickpeas and a good splash of water and bring back to the boil, taste, and adjust seasoning. Simmer for 4-5 minutes.
Add the mint and coriander and take off the heat. There should be some liquid in bottom of the pan.
Heat the milk and add the saffron, soak for 15 minutes.
Break up the butter into cubes and place half on the bottom of your pan. If your pan is quite wide, make this in in three layers if it is narrow, then add an extra layer of each.
Cover with half the rice, drizzle with half the saffron.
Pour over the chickpea masala and top with the rice and then remaining saffron and butter.
Top with the raisins and cashews.
Cover with a tight fitting lid and place on a low heat for 20 minutes or until it is steaming. You can leave this, off the heat, for 20 minutes now and it will stay hot.
Spoon onto a platter and scatter crispy onions and coriander for garnish.
“The Bengalis have a delicious dish of little aubergine rounds nestling in a lightly creamy mustard and yogurt sauce. It is truly tasty and forms the inspiration for this barbecued dish. Here I make the sauce separately (and very quickly), adding some tomatoes to the basic recipe, and have swapped the aubergines for courgettes, which work so well with the mustard flavours.
“This is an amazing side dish for any barbecue, but also makes a lovely, light course for vegetarians, in which case I sometimes add ricotta and/or two large handfuls of chickpeas for protein. A Bengali would use mustard seeds but, when you grind mustard seeds, they can sometimes turn bitter, so unless you are already familiar with this delicious but fickle spice, use the prepared mustard as I do here. It works just as well, you just lose a little extra body. The sauce is also delicious with some barbecued chicken and fish, so maybe make some extra!”
Serves 2 – 3
Ingredients 3 tsp prepared English mustard, or 2 tsp brown mustard seeds (see introduction), or to taste Salt 10g roughly chopped root ginger (peeled weight) 3 large garlic cloves, halved 3½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more to brush the courgettes ½ tsp panch phoran 3 – 4 Indian green finger chillies, stalks removed, pierced with the tip of a knife 3 quite rounded tbsp thick Greek yogurt 1 large tomato, chopped ½ tsp ground turmeric 3 courgettes (zucchini), sliced diagonally into 1.5cm thick rounds 150g ricotta Handful chopped coriander 2½ tbsp pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted in a pan until puffed up
If using mustard seeds, soak them in 60ml water for 15 minutes.
Add a large pinch of salt, the ginger and garlic and blend until smooth. The mustard seeds do not need to break down completely. It will smell lovely and mustardy.
If using prepared mustard, blend the ginger and garlic with some water and mix with the mustard and some salt.
Heat the oil in a small non-stick pan.
Add the panch phoran and, as the seeds pop, reduce the heat, add the green chillies and fry for another 10 seconds.
Add the mustard seed paste (if using), cleaning the blender container with a little water and adding it to the pot. Cook for a few minutes or until the garlic smells cooked and has darkened ever so slightly.
Add the yogurt, most of the tomato, salt and turmeric and stir continuously until it comes to the boil.
Stir in the prepared mustard (if using) and splash of water and return to the boil, it should have the consistency of light cream. Adjust the mustard and salt to taste: it should be punchy, the vegetable can take it. Set aside.
Preheat the barbecue to medium – hot.
Brush the courgette slices with olive oil, place on the grill rack and cook, until charred on both sides, around 2 minutes each side.
Meanwhile, place the mustard sauce in a flameproof pan on the barbecue as well, to reheat the sauce, or just reheat it on the hob.
Place the courgettes on your serving plate, top with the ricotta, then the sauce, reserved tomato, coriander and pumpkin seeds. Serve hot.
The cold weather in most parts of Australia coinciding with EOFY celebrations is the closest thing that we’ll get to snowy Christmas vibes. And if you’re in dire need of some festive cheer after the first six months of 2023, grab your ugly sweater and head to your nearest Red Rooster for Xmas in July deals.
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