Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Yay!!! Uh Oh......Oh well- Holi Hai!!

Yay!!! This is my 100th post!! Never thought I'd reach this far.  It's taken me a good 3 yrs. (well, almost) to make it here.  Ever since my last post when the counter pointed that my 100th was coming- I've been thinking about what I want this post to be about. I wanted it to be just about itself. A milestone. An excitement. I thought about host an event to mark this event. Then I thought about hosting a giveaway of some sort. All that thinking....with zero ideas. I couldn't come up with any themes for an event; and I couldn't figure out how the heck to host a giveaway either.

All that thinking....and my birthday came up (it was this past Monday). Till the day before, I was so looking forward to it. A milestone birthday...of sorts. I was going to do something special, and blog about it. A milestone; and a milestone. Makes good blogging....Then came Monday- and my mood came crashing down.  In case you're done snickering at me by now, let me tell's not easy celebrating milestone b'days. Especially not if you're gonna be stepping on the other side of the line. ...if you're going to enter a phase of life that isn't what now is. (Hope you get my drift. I'm definitely not going to tell you how old I actually turned this week. But I will tell you that  from now on, my b'day clock counts down....).  A brought me my most expensive gift to date (not counting the big rocky studs..or the car he's bought me ...those I think should have come earlier than they actually did).  And I haven't even looked at that awesome bag that he gave me this time- that's how mad I am that this birthday of mine actually did come up. Oh....well!!

And then the emails started- all those invites brought me out of my birthday-induced stupor to realize that's Holi time! Happy Holi to all of you. Welcome Spring. Even though Mother Nature, in all Her benevolence, gave us a fairly mild winter this time; I'm so glad Spring is here. Can't wait to get rid of these jackets.  A isn't here, so I've been super busy. Didn't get time to make any special goodies this year for the celebration. All I made yesterday to mark the occasion of Holika dahan for today was to make this Zarda- a speciality that is especially reserved for the day before Holi in my parent's household. This recipe is not really a recipe...for I was eyeballing ingredients. But it's super simple, and I'm sure you'll get it if you give it a try.

(Saffron-infused sweet rice)

Long-grained basmati rice   1 measure
Water to cook   2 and 1/2 measures
Gur/ Jaggery 1/2 measure
Brown sugar  1/4 measure
Golden raisins
Cashew nuts
Cardomom/elaichi powder 1tsp
Green cardamom  2 crushed
Saffron  a pinch, soaked in warm milk.
Ghee  1Tbsp

  1. Wash and soak the rice for at least 30min.
  2. Bring 1 measure of water to a boil and put the jaggery and sugar in it. Keep on heat till it all melts. Add the cardamom powder and raisins in it.  Keep it aside till needed.
  3. Heat the ghee in a kadai and roast the cashews in it till golden in color. Take them out and put aside.
  4. In the same ghee, roast the rice till slightly brittle. Crush 2 cardamom pods and add to it along with fried cashew pieces.
  5. Then add the saffron-&-milk, the remaining water and the sugar water.  Bring to boil, then lower the heat to medium high. Cook uncovered till rice is el dente and water is almost gone (about 20 min.), then turn off heat, cover, and let rest for another 15min.
My Two cents: I've never missed my mom as much as I did this week. My mom made a bunch of goodies for Holi...the classic Holi recipes being the Kaanji - everyone who came to play colors was greeted with a glass of cold refreshing Kaanji; and a plateful of Khasta kachoris, and gujhiyas. But Zarda was a just a homey, to-be shared amongst the four of us- kind of dish. The deep yellow saffrony color is also symbolic of the sunshine, and Spring, and the plentiful golden wheat that was harvested just before this celebration came up.
I remember my mom making Zarda every year, the day before Holi. She also fasted that day, and in the morning she'd make garlands of goodies like popcorn, toasted makhaane (lotus seeds), candy and green almonds for us. Around 2pm or so she sat us down and told us the story of Prahlad & Holika. We'd go to the community park after this, where a huge pile of sticks was gathered into a bonfire. In our Pooja thali, we took a ream of thread that she'd soaked in turmeric, and this Zarda.  We went around the bonfire and wrapped this colored thread 7 times, and then put the Zarda in the middle.  By 4pm or so, most of the ladies of our neighborhood had already performed this ritual, and they stood there chatting while we kids ran around, plucking off goodies from our garlands and popping them in our mouths. The bonfire was lit at dusk, after which we'd all come back home and ate our Zarda with chai. My mom's Holi story always ended with "Prahlad & Holika came out safe from the fire, that is why we come back from watching Holika dahan and celebrate with sweet Zarda'.

When I made Zarda this year, I could picture the two of us (my brother and I) sitting impatiently around my mom, waiting for her to finish her Holi story so we could begin picking out the goodies from our garlands. So, this is for you mama.

I've never made goody-necklaces for my girls. Neither have I made Zarda in a long long time.  But I figured that if I can't celebrate my 100th post....and won't be happy about my Birthday, then I can at least celebrate Holi the way it used to be.
Wish you all a colorful, plentiful Holi.

Linked to:

Holi Hai at My Cook book
Colorful Holi at Cuisine Delights started by Indrani 
Color N Sweet hosted by Preeti.

Holi Fest 2012 hosted by Kalyani
Walk down the memory lane at Roshan's Cucina
For 'U' Mom at Uk Rasoi