Flavours Of A Festival: Reliving Holis Of Yore, With 2 Dishes
Image Credit: Maumita Paul Ghosh's Thandai Kebab

GROWING UP in Assam’s Karimganj with her grandmother, Maumita Paul Ghosh’s childhood memories of Dol weren’t very different from those of any traditional Bengali family’s in Kolkata. Unlike other festivals, Holi in Bengal, doesn't have a specifically-marked feast: There are sweets, there are fritters and in some homes even the traditional mutton curry.

Festive feasts are also as personal as communal; so every family has its own take on how they celebrate a festival and what they cook and eat. Maumita — a research scientist, food blogger and recipe developer — says her Holi/Dol food memories come from the cumulative festivities over the years. 

For Holi/Dol, Maumita shared her reinterpretations of the festival with Slurrp, through two special recipes she developed out of two special memories pertaining to the festival.



Grandma and Maa would make loads of khasta nimki the morning of Dol. And glasses of sublime bel (wood apple) panna would be prepared, to be gulped down once we’d returned home from playing with colours. I thought it would be really interesting to combine those two elements together. So here is my BEL PANNA TART.


For the shortcrust pastry —

280 gm plain flour 

130 gm cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes 

1 tbsp powdered sugar 

A pinch of salt 

6-8 tbsp of cold water

For the stuffing —

300 gm bel pulp (from 1 ripe bel or wood apple) 

150 gm hung curd (yoghurt hung in a muslin cloth for 3-4 hrs)

70 gm powdered sugar

Black salt, a pinch

For the garnish (optional) —

100 ml heavy cream

30 gm powdered sugar


For the shortcrust pastry —

In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter cubes. Lightly mix with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add cold water to the flour mixture, 1 tbsp at a time. Mix till the dough just comes together. Do not over-mix. With light hands, make a rough ball with the dough, wrap it with cling film and refrigerate for 4 hours (or even better, overnight). 

Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and keep it outside for 15 minutes or so. Divide the dough roughly into 8 equal balls. Using a roller pin, roll out each dough ball to a round disk with 1/4” thickness. Place the dough disk in a greased mini tart pan. Gently press to give it the shape of the mould. Trim away any excess from the edges. Prick the bottom with a fork. Refrigerate the tart shell for 45 minutes. 

Put some pie weights on the shell (if you don’t have pie weights, you can put a baking parchment on the top of the crust and add some kidney beans for the weight) and bake them in a preheated oven for 12-15 minutes at 180C. Remove the tart shells from the oven then take out the pie weights. Return the tart shells to the oven, bake for another 12-15 minutes or until the shells become light golden. Remove from the oven, and allow them to cool down completely. Keep aside.

For the wood apple/bel pulp —

Gently crack the outer shell of the wood apple (like you crack a coconut). Scoop out the flesh in a bowl. Splash a little water, and massage the pulp to soften. Now keep rubbing the softened flesh against a sieve to extract the bel pulp. Continue splashing water and rubbing it till there’s no further pulp. Tie the pulp in a muslin cloth and hang for 3-4 hours or till all the water is drained. Do not skip this step. 

For the wood apple/bel filling —

Transfer the wood apple/bel pulp to a mixing bowl; add the hung yoghurt, powdered sugar and black salt. Mix well with a whisk till the mixture becomes creamy and smooth and there are no lumps. Feel free to add more sugar if you want. Your bel panna mix is ready. Cover with a clean film, and keep refrigerated until use. 

To assemble, take the baked pie crust, gently fill it with the bel panna mix. Decorate with whipped cream. Keep in the refrigerator for an hour. Serve cold. 

(Note — You can bake the pie shells some days ahead and store in an airtight container. They stay fresh for a month or so.)

I REMEMBER a Holi that I spent in Delhi — it was my first Holi there — and it was nothing short of an explosion to my senses. There was song and dance; mirth and laughter, camaraderie and cordiality. And of course, a sinful feast to satiate the taste buds — from gujiyas and chaats, to bhang-laced thandai to thandai-flavoured lassis.

After 10 years, the revelry for the festival has simmered down, for a number of reasons. We now keep a check on our sugars and oils. But then it struck me: why can't good old thandai be revived for our current taste palate? And thus, my thandai kebabs happened:

Succulent paneer. A kiss of fresh cream. A fragrant smear of thandai masala. A hint of black peppercorn for heat. And then straight to the pan, grilled to a gorgeous golden.