If you're celebrating Basant Panchami at home or hosting a Saraswati Puja, you need to explore some festive dishes which are popularly made during this time across the country using some seasonal ingredients. Be it coconut barfi or badam kheer or something more decadent, these recipes can easily be made at home.
Make way for a fresh wave of festivities as Basant Panchami and Saraswati Puja are almost here. Basant Panchami is a festival that marks the arrival of spring and is celebrated with great fervour and enthusiasm across the country. Each region has certain culinary traditions and ingredients with which they celebrate this festival. The dishes made during this Panchami, which also coincides with Saraswati Puja, are meant to symbolise the bounty of nature as it awakens from its winter slumber.
Some ingredients like coconut, nuts, rice etc are used across regions and are used to make kheer, kulfi, laddoo and several other kinds of desserts and they’re also used to make prasad. Here are a few dishes which you can make at home for Basant Panchami.
Saffron-Infused Kesariya Bhaat
Kesariya Bhaat, a fragrant saffron-infused rice dish, is made across several states during Basant Panchami. Also known as zarda rice or meethe chawal, this dish has a golden hue of saffron symbolising the warmth of spring, making it a fitting addition to the festive spread. Garnished with slivered almonds and cashews, this dish is not just delicious but also captures the essence of the season in its vibrant presentation. In the eastern states like West Bengal and Odisha, a rendition of this known as basanti pulao is served during Saraswati Puja and Panchami. It’s made with rice flavoured with ghee and turmeric which is mixed with nuts and raisins.
Coconut is a mainstay during Basant Panchami festivities and is used to make a number of sweets like laddoos and kheer. A barfi is a great way to make sweets that will last beyond a week and will hold on to their shape; not to mention, this coconut barfi can easily be updated to be dairy-free and gluten-free. In a typical recipe, grated coconut, sugar, and condensed milk come together to form these delectable squares of sweetness. The white colour of the barfi symbolizes purity and new beginnings, echoing the transitional spirit of the season.
Kanchipuram Idli also known as Kanjeevaram idlis, is typically made with semi-boiled rice and hand-pounded sona masuri rice, although you can also use regular idli batter. Named after the sacred town of Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu, these idlis stand out with a blend of black pepper, cumin seeds, and chopped ginger, which gives them a unique and aromatic profile. Served in a traditional leaf or banana leaf, Kanchipuram Idlis are often relished during special occasions and religious ceremonies. They are also served as the ‘prashad’ in Varadaraja Perumal temple in Kanchi.
Kesari Jalebi are deep-fried spirals of fermented batter, soaked in a saffron-infused sugar syrup, imparting a rich golden colour. The intricate patterns and the burst of sweetness make Kesari Jalebi a festive favourite. Served piping hot, these confections add a touch of indulgence to the celebration. If you’re making them at home, instead of making them in large batches, store the batter to make fresher jalebis.
The luxurious almond-infused rice pudding is popularly served during Basant Panchami and it’s considered to be a symbol of opulence and abundance. The creamy texture, the fragrance of almonds, and the hint of cardamom create a decadent dessert. Badam Kheer not only satisfies the sweet tooth but is also a nod to the bounty of nature. You can use almond milk instead of regular whole milk and you can top it with some saffron.
This sweet treat, often enjoyed during festivals and celebrations, is a medley of rich nuts and jaggery. Mewa, means "dry fruits" in Hindi, so the ingredient list for this sweet treat includes a variety of nuts like almonds, cashews, and pistachios. The sweetness comes from the caramelised jaggery, which also adds a distinct smoky flavour to the chikki.
With its golden hues and nutty aroma, Mewa Chikki is not just a confection; it's a celebration of abundance and sweetness in life. The ritual of breaking the chikki into uneven pieces during family gatherings or festive occasions symbolizes shared joy and togetherness.
Kesar Pista Kulfi
This creamy, frozen dessert, enriched with saffron and pistachios or pista, is a great way to conclude a Basant Panchami spread. The creamy texture and the nutty crunch make Kesar Pista Kulfi a fitting addition to a festive meal, leaving a lingering sweetness behind. If you’re making it at home, add the saffron along with the milk, when you’re reducing the milk, instead of simply topping it with the saffron.