A Belated Happy Holi everyone!
It was Holi on Wednesday… the Hindu festival of colors, the day we welcome Spring & with it blooming flowers, new crops, a newness in the air. Of course in Bombay we skip directly to the searing Summer heat, but still it is one of the City’s favourite festivals.
The festival of Holi started Tuesday night, with Holika Dahan,with large bonfires lit in every neighborhood & lane in the City. People circle the fire pouring water around it & place coconuts into it. The roasted coconut fresh out of the embers with a little bit of sugar is one of my favourites!
The fire is symbolic of the triumph of good over evil. Each year while growing up, Mom would tell us the story of Prahlad, who was a staunch devotee of Lord Vishnu. His father, the Demon King Hiranyakashyapu, had been granted a boon that he could not be destroyed by day or night, neither indoors nor out, not on earth or in the sky, by neither man nor beast or any weapon. This made him arrogant & he demanded that all should worship him, & him alone. None were to worship the Gods in Heaven. Prahlad refused to bow down to his father’s will. In a final attempt to stop him from praying to Vishnu, Hiranyakashyapu, ordered Prahlad to be lit alive on a pyre, seated on the King’s sister Holika’s lap. Holika had been given a boon that fire would not harm her. But as he sat on the pyre chanting Vishnu’s name, Holika was consumed by the flames, while Prahlad was untouched. This burning of evil & salvation of good is celebrated as Holi.
The next morning Spring is welcomed with the vibrant festival of colours. People throw colored powder, gulal, & colored water on each other. Traditionally the colors were made by crushing dried flowers like marigold & gulmohar. In fact in parts of North India Holi is still played with fresh flowers. Playing Holi, breaks down or at least lowers all barriers of religion, gender, age as families, friends, neighbours all get together & celebrate.
As kids we would spend the better part of the morning becoming a right royal colorful mess with our friends & neighbours in the apartment complex we lived in. Of course Dad & Dadaji (Grandfather) would be totally paranoid that we would ruin the walls or furniture. We didn’t care 🙂 I loved the colours, even though it was a pain getting it off your skin & hair. We could tell which kid in school had the best time during Holi by the bright red ears or blue finger nails & green peeping through the hair!
Food is, as with all festivals, a very integral part of Holi. At home Mom would make these little dumplings with steamed purple yam (kand) & raisins, with thick sweetened yogurt (shrikhandh or matha). Gujjiyas too are a staple in the North. These are crescent shaped dumplings made with wheat flour & stuffed with grated, roasted coconut & dried fruit. My husband’s family, which is from Maharashtra, make Puran Polis, thin, flat roti-bread stuffed with jaggery & lentils.
Over time, I have stopped getting all colored up at Holi, though I make sure, no matter where I am, to be there for the fire ceremony. For some reason I feel most at peace when I walk around the flames… like I am letting go of all the negativity, the chaos of the year gone by & breathing in the newness of spring, with all its hope & tranquility.
This Holi, I woke up wanting to make something special. But I’m on a diet! All the traditional goodies are banned 😦 So maybe I could make something colorful, symbolic of the festival, yet which fits in with what I’m “supposed’ to eat!
Among other things, I’m “allowed” 2 tablespoons of oats a day with more egg whites than I care to eat, low fat yogurt, olive oil, nuts & fruit…hmmm… well what am I waiting for? Muffins it is!
Since flowers are the basis for all the color, & hence significant to the festival. I got my little flower shaped muffin tins out with the pretty colored paper cases. The red plums & figs on top make the muffins more vibrant… I hope! In any case you could do this with Whatever’s in the Fridge!
I’m making these for breakfast. The proportions here are keeping in mind my daily allowance of ingredients. So it is a true experiment.
- 8 tablespoons / 1 cup Oats
- 1 Egg + 1 Egg White
- 4 tablets Sugar Free / Sweet ‘n’ Low
- 2 tablespoons Low Fat Yogurt
- 4 teaspoons Olive Oil
- 12 Almonds
- Zest & Juice of 1/2 an Orange
- 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1 stick Cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 2 pinches Cinnamon Sugar (my cheat ingredient!)
- a pinch Salt
- slices of Figs, Plums, or any other fruit
- Grind the oats with the cinnamon, almonds & Sugar Free tablets till it’s a coarse powder.
- Add salt, baking powder & baking soda to the oats.
- Whisk the eggs & vanilla till frothy.
- Stir in the yogurt, oil, orange juice & zest & whisk well.
- Gently fold in the oats. Do not over mix.
- Pour the batter into the greased & lined moulds.
- Arrange the fruit on top & sprinkle a little cinnamon sugar on each muffin.
- Bake in a pre-heated oven for about 20-25 minutes or till the cake tester comes out clean & the top is golden.
My allowance of the ingredients in the recipe, per day is: 2 tablespoons of Oats, 5 egg whites, 1 cup low fat yogurt, 4 teaspoons olive oil, 6 almonds & 1 fruit.
The muffins aren’t too sweet, so if you like, you could add some honey to the batter.
So this well within what’s okay for me if I have 1 Muffin a day… Yay!
This recipe makes 4 muffins.