On the heels of Spring, Indian households eagerly prepare for the most colourful festival of the year, Holi. Holi welcomes the beginning of spring and celebrates the harvest festival. In Hindu mythology there is a religious story of good defeating evil. A king sent his evil sister Holika, to kill his son Prahlad. After several attempts she finally tried to burn him in a pyre, however, evil Holika’s immunity to fire was reversed by the Gods and she perished instead of Prahlad.
To mark this victory, bonfires are lit on the eve of Holi. In India, celebrations include adults and children playing games in the streets, throwing beautiful vibrant coloured powder at each other and water fights. Powders of bright pink, blue, orange and purples are mixed with water and squirted through water pistols thrown dry.
Similarly, the foods served and prepared during Holi are just as colourful and vibrant as the celebrations itself. It’s one of the only festivals where people drink openly. Favorite beverages include lassi (a yogurt drink normally drunk sweetened with sugar or flavoured with salt) and bhaang (a milky drink made with mixed nuts), often liberally laced with intoxicants.
Where Lassi and bhaang are the preferred beverages of choice, spicy, tangy chaats reign as favourite savories. Ram ladoos, dahi vadas, papdi chaat, kachori and mixed chaats can be found at parties and celebrations.
And of course, no Indian celebrations is complete without an abundance of desserts. Sweets are just as important during Holi and include popular picks suck as gujiya, phirni, shakkar pare, malpua and more.
Of course in the end, Holi dishes vary regionally and from family to family. This corn chaat is one simple yet satisfying dish I love around this time of year. The combination of sweet corn and peppers, spicy chilis and tangy chaat masala work wonderfully together and remind me of warmer months.
I love that this recipe can be prepared ahead of time, perfect for when you have guests coming over. In a large bowl, combine steamed corn kernels, finely chopped bell peppers, onions, green chilies, cilantro and chaat masala. While serving you can give it a squeeze of lime and top it with sev and fried papdi. It’s colorful and fresh, just like the celebration itself.
What are some of your favorite Holi recipes? See more of Nisha’s recipes here.
2 cups Sweet corn kernels, steamed
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/3 cup red onion, diced
2 green chilies, chopped
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1 tsp chaat masala
Mix corn, bell pepper, onion, chilies, cilantro and chaat masala. Garnish with crunchy sev, fresh lime wedges and fried papdi.
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