Hope you are having a lovely March and getting ready for Easter bunnies and egg hunts. For us Hindus though, before Easter, we have the fun-filled, color-soaked festival of Holi to celebrate. As a kid, Diwali and Holi were my two favorite festivals; Diwali because of the overload of sweets, fireworks and new clothes and Holi because of the sheer fun! You can read all about how Holi is celebrated in my posts here and here.
One of the most important legends associated with Holi is that of Prahlad and his aunt Holika (who lends her name to the festival actually!) Prahlad was the son of a powerful demon king Hiranyakshipu, who was granted near-immortality by the Gods. Deeming himself a God, he decreed that everyone should worship only him and severely punished anyone who refused to.
His main opponent was his own young son, Prahlad, who was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. This angered Hiranyakshipu who made many attempts to kill the child, but Prahlad escaped every time.
Hiranyakshipu finally called upon his sister, the demoness Holika for help. She was immune to fire and she tricked Prahlad into sitting in a bonfire with her, expecting the boy to be burnt to ashes. However, the opposite happened and Lord Vishnu saved his devotee Prahlad and Holika was instead the one who died.
Holi is thus also a celebration of the victory of good over evil and to this day, one of the major rituals of Holi eve is the symbolic large bonfires lit in every community to remind everyone that anyone who tries to harm God’s true devotee will be reduced to ashes.
One of my favorite dishes related to Holi is Holige (see the link here? Holika, Holi, Holige…). Holige is a flatbread made with whole-wheat flour that is stuffed with a lentil and jaggery mixture, laced with spices.
It is known by different names in various Indian states: Holige in Karnataka, Puran Poli in Maharashtra and Obbattu in Tamil Nadu. And it features on the menu on quite a few auspicious occasions.
I would say it is one of the healthier Indian sweets: made with whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour and sweetened with jaggery instead of refined sugar. There is also no deep-frying involved. And yet, it is so very delicious!
Serve it with a dollop of ghee and some warm milk. And if you are feeling particularly indulgent, dunk it in some warm Payasam! The combination of the soft holige dipped in payasam is a taste you will remember for a long time to come 😀
I am bringing this delicious Holige to my wonderful friend Sonal’s Holi Collective at her blog Simply Vegetarian 777. Do check it out and try out some of the Holi goodies presented. I am also co-hosting Angie’s Fiesta Friday this week along with the lovely Julianna @ Foodie on Board! I think this Holige is going to go down very well with the party guests 😀 See you all there!
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- 1 & ½ cups Bengal Gram (Chana Dal)
- 1 & ½ cups powdered Jaggery
- ½ teaspoon ground Ginger powder
- ¼ teaspoon Nutmeg powder
- ¼ teaspoon Cardamom powder
- 1½ cups Whole Wheat Flour
- 4 tablespoons Sesame Oil (substitute with other cooking Oil, as available)
- A pinch of Salt
- ¼ teaspoon Turmeric powder
- Ghee, to serve
- Wash and soak the chana dal for 2 to 3 hrs.
- Cook the dal in a pressure cooker with 2 cups of water for 4 whistles.
- Drain all water from the dal and allow it to cool down.
- Once cooled, blend it to a smooth paste in a mixer. Make sure there are no whole dal left in it.
- Take the dal paste in a non stick, heavy bottom pan and add jaggery to it.
- Heat the pan on a medium and keep stirring. The jaggery will start melting and form a thick slurry with the dal.
- Keep stirring till it thickens and starts getting separated from the sides of the pan. It may take about 15 to 20 mins of stirring on a medium flame.
- Once it is thickened, add ginger, nutmeg and cardamom powder and mix well.
- Now switch off the flame and allow the mixture this to cool.
- When it is cooled down, take handful of the mixture and make lemon size balls out of it.
- The quantities given here make about 16 balls. Keep aside.
- Take the wheat flour in a bowl.
- Add salt , turmeric powder and oil to this. Slowly add water and make a smooth and very soft dough.
- Let it rest for ½ hr before you start making the flat-breads.
- Once you are ready to make the flat-breads, make balls from the wheat dough, a little smaller than the stuffing balls which were already made.
- Make sure you make the same number of balls  as the stuffing ones.
- Now roll out a ball of dough into a small circle.
- Place the stuffing ball on the circle of dough and fold the dough over the stuffing, covering it completely.
- Flatten the ball a bit and then roll it out carefully into a bigger circle, using some wheat flour for dusting.
- Place on a tray and repeat with the rest of the dough and stuffing balls till they are all rolled out.
- Now heat a griddle and apply a bit of ghee on it.
- Pan-fry the rolled flat-breads on the griddle on medium heat.
- Flip over the flat-bread carefully and brown both sides.
- Serve warm with a dollop of ghee and warm milk or payasam.
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