It is Holi today. The festival of color. Like some of the festivals in India, this one too is is about the good winning over evil. And we celebrate it in India with what we love most, food. Every festival has its own traditions with food in India and Holi is no different. Today I am going to make a drink that is happily drunk in gallons on this day. It’s a drink that is also used as a filling for a popular street food called gol-guppas, but that is for another post!
On Holi you are supposed to wear white clothes so that everyone can see all the colors that fall on you. The dry, the wet, the sticky, all sorts of colors. Mostly people go from house to house meeting and covering anyone that comes in their paths with color. And when someone doesn’t want to take part, they are dragged out. And its all in good fun.
When someone comes to your home to greet you with color, and after everyone has doused each other with color, its customary to offer the person, Holi sweets and drinks. And so it carries on till around midday when everyone sort of has had enough. And then comes the wonderful lazy lunch in the sun.
Growing up I of course loved Holi. My dad was not a fan just because it didn’t appeal to the inner barbarian in him! I do have to admit, it is a rough festival. Some people more enthusiastic than the other. But we didn’t care as kids. I mean what’s not to like about a festival where you get to hide and attack grownups and kids alike with water balloons and water pistols and throw color indiscriminately at all and sundry?! I think the only thing that marred our fun was because Holi almost always comes bang in the middle of the final examinations. That used to be a bummer. You play and play and play till you wanted to drop. Then came the shower and after that the most delicious lunch. Now eating lunch in the warm sun, after taking the longest shower, with the thought of impending nose diving into the books to study, could only lead to one thought. Unhappiness. Oh how delicious it would be to sleep after this glorious day, we would think? But it invariably was not to be.
Now Jal Jeera which literally means cumin in water is like a heavenly glass of liquid. When it is hot outside and your throat is parched, this is the drink you want. It is sometimes topped with boondi, which are deep fried chickpea flour balls. You can add some fried peanuts to the left over boondi and eat as a snack. To me this drink was like a meal in itself. Divine. And very healthy.
for the boondi (optional)
1/2 cup fine chickpea flour
1 tbsp vegetable oil
pinch of salt
1 cup water + more if needed
Prepare a wok with enough oil for deep frying. Let the oil get very hot on high heat.
Put the chickpea flour in a bowl and slowly add the water. Don’t add the water all at once. Once the consistency of the batter is as shown in picture above, you can go ahead and add the oil and the salt.
Test if the oil is hot enough by dropping a little bit of the batter in. If it sizzles and rises to the top, your oil is ready. Reduce the heat to medium.
Take a slotted spoon and position it over the oil. Take a spoonful of the batter and pour it on the slotted spoon whilst rubbing the batter into the slotted spoon in a circular motion. You will see how droplets of the batter fall into the batter. Let fry for a minute til you see them turn a golden yellow.
Remove and place in a bowl which is lined with kitchen towels. This will absorb the additional oil. Your boondi is now ready.
for the jal jeera
1 cup tightly packed cilantro leaves
1/2 cup loosely packed mint leaves
1 green chili
1 1/2 tsps powder of dry roasted cumin
1 tsp black salt
1 tsp amchoor (mango) powder
1 tsp chaat masala
juice from one lime
2 cups of water
salt to taste
1 tbsp boondi (optional)
Place the cilantro, mint, lime juice, chili and salt in a blender and blend till smooth.
To this mixture add all the dry ingredients. Mix well and strain through a fine sieve.
Add another glass of water to this mix.
Take a tall glass, fill it with ice, sprinkle the boondi generously and then pour the green juice (the jal jeera) on top. Sprinkle some additional chaat masala on top and serve immediately.