Kheer,Pua and More to Celebrate Harela Festival
Image Credit: Instagram/@devbhumi.uttrakhand_01

Across Uttarakhand, people are honouring the festival of Harela today, which symbolises the importance of preserving the environment and promoting harmony and prosperity. Harela, which literally translates to "day of green," is a festival held in honour of Shiva and Parvati on the fifth month of the Hindu lunar calendar, Shravan. Nine days prior to the celebration, Kumaoni people sow the seeds of five to seven different crops in donas (bowls made of leaves) or ringalare (bamboo baskets), including maize, til (sesame), urad (black gramme), mustard, and oats. On day nine, they gather and it is given to friends, family, and neighbours. The flourishing crop is a symbol of good fortune for the coming year. This festival also includes specific dishes that are prepared at homes, such as Kheer, pua, puri, raita, and chole, and other dishes as the festive spread. When it comes to Indian celebrations, no festival is complete without delicacies. Here’s what you can prepare for the Harela food platter. 

Suji Pua: The dish is speciallly prepared for this festival. It is a common Indian dessert prepared from semolina (suji), sugar, and milk. Cardamom powder is added to the batter before it is deep-fried. After being deep-fried, the pua is doused in sugar syrup to bring out its natural sweetness. During celebrations and holidays, it is typically served as a sweet or savoury snack. Suji pua is a popular dessert in Southeast Asia, and with good reason: its crisp outside and sweet syrup centre are irresistible to people of all ages. 

Urad Dal ke Bade: During the Harela festival in Uttarakhand, Urad Dal Ke Bade is traditionally made as a festive treat. After being soaked in water, urad dal is next ground into a smooth batter, which is followed by the addition of spices and the formation of little balls from the mixture. These balls are deep-fried to a golden brown and served with a tart and spicy curry that is made with yoghurt as the basis. During the Harela festival, people enjoy a delicacy called Urad Dal Ke Bade and celebrate the prosperity.  

Kheer: Kheer, an Indian rice pudding, is a staple food during Uttarakhand's Harela festival. Creamy and thick, it's produced by boiling rice with milk. Kheer, a sweet dessert flavoured with cardamom, saffron, and almonds and sweetened with sugar or jaggery, is a popular treat during this holiday. During the festive celebration of Harela, it is customary to offer this delicious dish, either warm or cooled, with a garnish of dried fruits. 

Aloo Gutke: The Uttarakhand region is known for its Aloo Gutke, a delicacy typically served during the Harela festival. Boiled potatoes are mixed with a variety of spices, including cumin seeds, turmeric, and red chilli powder, to create this dish. Coriander leaves are a common garnish, and the dish is usually eaten alongside rice or roti. Harela, a festival that celebrates the arrival of the monsoon season, features a feast that includes the highly flavorful dish Aloo Gutke. 

Kheere ka Raita: Kheere ka raita is a delightful yogurt-based side dish that is prepared with grated cucumber, yoghurt, and spices. It is a common side dish during the Harela festival in Uttarakhand. The grated cucumber gives the creamy yoghurt a cold, crunchy texture, while the spices elevate the flavours. Kheere ka raita is a refreshing and calming meal offered at festivals to cut through the heat and richness of the other dishes. It's a tasty and easy dish that fits in perfectly with the celebratory feel of Harela in Uttarakhand.