She loves the fact that how food brings people together and makes festivals more colourful and delicious and this is what she loves about food. Well, we all agree with that.
Home Chef Surabhi Bhandari enjoys sharing her love of food and cooking with others. She is from Jodhpur and comes from a Marwadi family. The greatest way to describe her food obsession is through her Instagram page, 365 kitchentales. The real goal is to build a platform to share her regional food with the world while bringing back some old favourites and forgotten dishes. It was a long road from being a novice to getting married, and her mother-in-law deserves credit for holding her hand and educating her about the festivals, ceremonies, and the significance of their food.
She loves the fact that how food brings people together, makes festivals more colourful and delicious and this is what she loves about food. Well, we all agree with that.
She says, “I think cooking is a very underrated or overrated thing for many, but actually it is a basic life skill that everyone should know and be proud of it. Through my page, I want to tell people the joys of simple cooking, eating together with friends and family and enjoying local, seasonal food.”
Food plays an important role in all the festivals and more so, when it’s a joyful Indian festival like Holi! Since it also marks the change of season from winter to spring and on set of summers. Hence the food is based on it too.
She prepares a lot of curd and milk-based items like thandai which has a mix of dry fruits, melon and khus khus seeds, rose petals, white pepper, dry fruits all of which are great to maintain the balance in the body during the change of weather.
When the aroma of ghee and kesar comes from the kitchen and wafts through the living room, it indicates that Holi is around the corner!
Gujiya is the first thing that announces Holi! The crisp, flaky layer that encases the sweet filling of khoya, dry fruits and kesar, shaped beautifully and deep fried in ghee is the best thing about Holi! But Holi in Jodhpur is a different affair altogether. Preparations in the kitchen start a week before the festival. Various kind of mathris and sweets made in desi ghee marks the onset of festival. Matkas of kanji soaking in the sun is a common sight to see in homes around Jodhpur or Rajasthan.
Holi with flowers is also played in a lot of temples and it starts a week before the actual Holi. Singers with huge dholak and “ Chang “ are seen on the streets singing and dancing. The thing she misses the most about Holi in Jodhpur is the day when people go and meet all relatives after playing Holi. It’s called “ Rama Shama” and since a kid, it’s been her favourite part of the festival. People dress up and visit the homes of friends and family. Sweets and savoury items, in small bowls kept in trays, is a commonly seen in all the homes. Besan ki chakki , kaju katli, gujiya and mathris in various shapes and taste is served with glasses of thandai.
She tries her best to replicate the same in Gurgaon where she currently lives by inviting friends over in the evening and serving a slice of Jodhpur.
She quotes, “My mother in law taught me the importance of these festivals and I try to follow the traditions. Khichadi - dal is a common lunch that is prepared in the morning and offered to our God. “
After thandai, Kanji vada is the most famous dish during Holi. Since Holi marks the beginning of change of season, there’s nothing better than having some kanji and vada. While the fermentation in the drink makes it an excellent prebiotic, the mustard seeds helps in digestion. Kanji vada helps to balance and digest the binging of all the heavy winter foods.
With the modernisation and fusion of dishes , there is a shift in traditional sweets also. The tall glass of thandai is being replaced with slices of thandai cheesecakes, mousse and ice creams. Desi ghee gujiya is now giving place to baked versions of gujiya along with baked mathris and crackers. While this all is interesting to have, the charm of old traditional sweets, the aroma of desi ghee and our mothers or grand mothers frying all the mathris is incomparable to any fusion dessert!! We agree on this. The essence of any festival is the traditions and food connect best with that charm.
Surabhi shares some recipes for you to make at home to make your holi festival special
Kanji vada -
Kanji and vada is a special Marwadi dish which is relished around holi time. It is an excellent digestive, a probiotic and delicious to have during holi time. Traditionally, the vadas are made using moong dal but she likes to make them with a mix of moong and urad dal.
For kanji water -
1.5 lt water
2 tbsp black mustard seeds powder
1/4 tsp haldi powder
2 pinch hing
1/4 tsp red chilli powder
1 tbsp saunf
2 tsp black salt
Normal salt to taste
Grind together the dry spices to a powder and stir this powder nicely in the water. Cover with a cloth or jaali and keep in sun for 2 days to mature.
1/2 cup moong dal
2 - 3 tbsp urad dal
1 tbsp dhaniya seeds
Salt to taste
Wash and soak the dal for 3-4 hrs
Strain the water and grind it using little water at a time.
Add salt and dhaniya seeds and whisk it nicely for 7-8 mins . This will make the batter airy and vadas will be soft .
Heat oil in a karahi and fry small vadas on medium heat. Keep some warm water in a bowl with some salt and soak the vadas in water for some time. One hour before serving , squeeze the vadas from the water and add them to the kanji.Give a charcoal smoke by heating charcoal on a gas . Keep a small plate in the kanji and put the charcoal on it . Drop little ghee on it and quickly cover it with a lid. Let it be like this for 20-25 mins. Take out the charcoal and chill the kanji in fridge . Garnish with some boondi and coriander before serving.
*Always make it in a clay pot/ glass jar or a ceramic jar. Avoid metal utensils.
*Use small black mustard seeds. You can use a combination of black and yellow mustard, but small ones.
*Use a Muslin cloth or a jaali to cover the kanji. Do not close it with a tight lid.
*Stir the kanji 2-3 times in a day.
*Keep it in warm or sun for 1-2 days to ferment it. It will get sour taste and the mustard will come on top and that’s when it’s ready.
Mini dal pakwan
Although dal pakwan is a famous Sindhi dish, Marwadis love it too and it’s a very loved breakfast dish in any marriage functions in Jodhpur!
Pakwan or the mathri is almost the size of a dinner plate and it’s enjoyed with a generous serving of boiled dal, chopped onions, tomatoes, imli and green chutney on the pakwan.
Here’s her holi version of dal pakwan served as a warm dip and chip with spinach and beetroot papdis! Do try it and you will love it too!
Here’s the easy recipe -
For papdi -
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp ajwain
1 tbsp oil
Salt to taste
1/4 cup spinach purée or boiled beetroot purée
For dal -
Chana dal- 1/2 cup
Ghee- 1 tsp
Jeera - 1/4 tsp
Hing- a pinch
Ginger- 1/2 tsp
Green chilli- 1 chopped fine
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Haldi powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt to taste
Dhaniya powder - 1/4 tsp
Amchur powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Onion- 1 small chopped fine
Tomato - 1 small chopped fine
Some coriander to garnish
Take flour, salt, ajwain in a bowl. Rub in the oil nicely in flour and knead with spinach or beetroot purée. You can omit the purée and knead with normal water too. Knead in a tight dough. Rest the dough for 15-20 mins. Divide the dough into small balls and roll into tiny papdis. Prick them with a fork. Heat oil in a karahi and fry them on medium heat for 3-5 mins. They should not change colour or become brown. You can air fry them at 200C too!
Wash and Soak the chana dal for 3-4 hrs. Pressure cook with some water, salt and turmeric powder for 4-5 whistles. When the pressure cools down, mash the dal nicely. Heat ghee in a pan, crackle jeera and hing and sauté green chilli and ginger. Take 1/4 cup water and add red chilli powder, haldi powder, salt, amchur powder and dhaniya powder. Pour this water with ginger and chilli. Stir for a minute and add the boiled and mashed dal. Stir nicely and cook for 2-3 mins. Garnish with freshly chopped coriander. Before serving, warm the dal and garnish with chopped onions, tomatoes, imli chutney and green chutney. Serve with the papdi as warm dip and chip! Dig in! and Enjoy Holi!