Braj Cuisine Echoes The Legends Of Lord Krishna, Radha And Holi
Image Credit: Malai Ghewar, Gopal.sweets@Instagram

With the arrival of Holi, the Braj region of India unravels a captivating look. It reverberates with festive vibes. Braj ki Holi is one of the most awaited festivals in the country. And there are legit reasons for it. Holi, which relates to Lord Krishna and Radha, can't go missing from the place where both these Hindu deities grew up. And it is none other than the Braj region. While in most Indian provinces, Holi is observed for a day or two, in Braj, the revelries of the Festival of Colours go until Rang Panchmi. At large, it celebrates this occasion as the festival of divine love that history testifies and cites examples of. It is at least a once-in-life-time experience to witness Holi celebrations in the Braj region of India. And with a visit to this place, it is highly suggested to sample the local Braj cuisine, which echoes its essence of the cultural and holy nuances. 

Radha and Lord Krishna and Holi connection

The first written reference to Radha and Krishna playing Holi was in the puranic text Garga Samhita, written by Sage Garga. An equally well-known mythology explains the festival's symbolic origins. Because of his dark complexion, Krishna worried that the fair-skinned Radha wouldn't like him when he was younger. His mother, Yashoda, fed up with her son's constant pleading, finally told him to go up to Radha and offer her to paint his face any colour she liked. Radha did so, and soon after, it marked the beginning of their legendary love story. Holi is a festival celebrated since Radha and Krishna's cheeks were coloured playfully.

What is Braj region?

Food is revered by many of us. But, the enigmatic Braj is the place which does it in the true sense. This area is based around the city of Mathura Vrindavan. The Palwal district of Haryana, the Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh, and the Bharatpur district of Rajasthan make up the Braj region, often known as Brij or Brijbhoomi. It is located in the heart of the Ganga-Yamuna basin and stretches along the riverbanks on both sides.

Even now, Krishna is an integrated part of the Braj community and diet, influencing the culture in indelible ways. The essential elements of Braj cuisine are based on a few beliefs and traditions. 

Satwik Cuisine

Religion and cows play a significant role in Braj cuisine, which takes its cue from Krishna, the God of the Gherao. Typical satwik fare is prepared without the use of garlic or onions. It's also commonly believed that adding onion or garlic will make the food too strong or mask the vegetable's authentic flavour. Many traditional families still adhere to it religiously. 

A typical breakfast in Braj, Image Source: Twitter

Even most streetside street foods, snack vendors and restaurants don't use onions or garlic either. Asafoetida or hing is often used in cooking as a garlic substitute. The Braj cuisine is not heavy on the stomach. Tourists are often surprised by the robust flavour that can be achieved without the usual reliance on onion, garlic, and a wide variety of spices.

Spicy feature

Several dishes in this region reflect the heat-loving traditions of neighbouring Rajasthan. Pepper pickle, or mirchi ka achar, is often served with pooris and kachoris. Potato curry with kali mirch pakora is essential to the traditional Braj breakfast staple, crispy kachori. A special mirch aur cheeni ka paratha (chilli and sugar Indian flatbread) is just one example of creative cuisine.

The dominance of dairy products 

In the traditional Brij household, cows play the same pivotal role that they did in Lord Krishna's life. Desserts in this area typically involve milk as an ingredient. Mathura ke peda, malai ghewar, khurchan, butter toast, and kheer mohan are only some of the well-known dishes from the region. In addition to its use as whole milk, curd, and ghee, milk is also utilised in various other forms and the recipes that derive from them.

Mathura peda, Image Source: beena_shenoy@Instagram

Tangy treats that are a delight to the taste buds

Brajites have a penchant for chatpata or sour and spicy cuisine. Kachori typically comes with a sweet and sour pumpkin mash called khatte meethe kaddu. This dish's tart element can be either tamarind paste, raw mango powder, or fresh raw mango if available. Moreover, chaats and sweet and sour tawe wali sabziyan or pan-fried vegetables are common.