Malpua to dahi chicken: Chefs on Holi delicacies they fondly remember from their childhood

Pooja Pillai
Holi celebration, Holi sweets, Holi festival, Holi in India, thandai, gujiyas, indian express news, indian express talk

Holi Special Malpua

While thandai and gujiyas may be an indispensable part of the feasting associated with Holi across the Gangetic plains in India, the menu of the feast varies from region to region. In Rishikesh Rai’s hometown of Durgawati, Bihar, one of the must-have dishes on Holi was the Khade Masale Ka Gosht cooked by his aunt. “This was some 28-29 years ago. The mutton was fresh, the spices were handground and it was all cooked on an open fire. The taste cannot be replicated in a modern kitchen,” says Rai, executive chef, Vivanta New Delhi, Dwarka. “Even the thandai was made fresh, with the masalas being ground by a man seated on a stool. He would keep churning out the thandai masala, which would be mixed with milk for us kids, and with bhaang for the adults,” he recalls.

Nearly every family ends up forming its own food traditions. When Aditya Jha was growing up, the one dish that invariably formed a part of Holi lunch was the Dahi Chicken cooked by his maternal grandmother. “I can’t recollect a single Holi when I didn’t eat the dish,” he says, “My grandmother would visit us every Holi and the celebration was simply not complete without this dish.” That is why, when Jha, who is the head chef at In-Q, The Manor, Delhi, prepared a Holi-special menu for his restaurant this year, he insisted on including the dish. “Of course, it’s a little different from how my grandmother used to make it. She would get a desi chicken and bones and all, would braise it in a yogurt-based sauce. There was no need to add stock. I soak chicken breasts in buttermilk to make the meat more tender and then caramelise it. The sauce recipe, however, is the same,” he says.

Friends and families would gather to eat the festival delicacies, such as at Ashish Singh’s home, where the fruit-based malpua (pictured, top) was a huge hit. “My mom and grandmom would use bananas and suji to make it. There was very little maida. And they would vary it, based on what people wanted — sometimes adding sultanas, sometimes apples,” says Singh, corporate chef, Dhansoo Cafe, Delhi. Zoheb Qureshi, executive chef, Namak Mandi, Delhi, remembers similar gatherings during Holi at the family home in Lucknow, where his mother and grandmother perfected the art of honey-dipped baked gujiyas. “Being a Muslim family, we don’t traditionally celebrate the festival, but it was a time for us to meet all our friends, and everyone would come together at our house and feast on the gujiyas,” he says.

Holi Special Malpua

By Ashish Singh, corporate chef, Dhansoo Cafe, Delhi


For the batter

Milk: 1 cup
Semolina: ½ cup
Sugar: ½ cup
Banana: 1 piece
Refined flour: ¼ cup
Fennel seeds: 1 gm

For honey syrup

Honey: 200 gm
Water: 100 ml
Cardamom powder: a pinch
Saffron: 0.2 gm

For rabri

Milk: 500 ml
Khoya: 150 gm
Pistachios: 15 gm
Sugar: 75 gm

Method: Make the honey syrup by mixing honey with water. Add crushed cardamom powder and saffron strands.

For the rabri, heat milk in a pan till it reduces by half. Simmer for half an hour. Once a thick layer of cream starts to form on top, add khoya, sugar and saffron. Simmer it again for 15 minutes. Let it cool and add pistachios.

Mix flour and semolina in a large bowl, add crushed fennel seeds, sugar, a pinch of salt and mashed banana, and mix well. Add milk, little at a time, and keep whisking to form a smooth, lump-free batter. The batter should be thick, but of pouring consistency. Let it rest for 15 minutes. Heat oil or ghee in a wide pan on medium heat. The malpua doesn’t need to be drowned in cooking fat. Ladle some batter into the hot oil. Reduce heat to low-medium, and fry it till it’s golden brown. Flip and fry on the other side. Remove malpua from the pan. Dip it in warm honey syrup. Soak each side for 30 seconds. Serve malpua with rabri and garnish with pista flakes.

Khade Masale ka Gosht

By rishikesh rai, executive chef, vivanta new delhi

Holi celebration, Holi sweets, Holi festival, Holi in India, thandai, gujiyas, indian express news, indian express talk

Khade Masale ka Gosh


Mutton: 1 kg
Curd: 50 gm
Turmeric powder: 1 tsp
Cumin powder: 1 tsp
Chilli powder: 1.5 tsp
Ginger paste: ½ tbsp
Garlic paste: 1 tbsp
Shahi jeera: ½ tsp
Coriander powder: 1 tsp
Green cardamom & mace powder: ½ tsp
Cinnamon: 1 stick
Allspice (kababchinni) : ½ tsp
Green cardamom: 4
Black pepper: ½ tsp
Bay leaf: 2
Onion, thinly sliced: 250 gm
Green chillies, julienned: 2

Method: Marinate the mutton using all the ingredients listed from second to 10th, and keep aside for one hour. Heat ghee in a thick bottom pot and add the whole spices. Once the whole spices start crackling, add sliced onion and saute till it turns light brown. Add green chillies and cook for few more seconds. Add marinated mutton and cook for five minutes. Seal the handi using dough and cook the mutton on medium heat for 45 minutes. Remove mutton from the fire and leave aside for 5 minutes. Open the lid and add chopped coriander, and close it again. Serve the mutton with phulka or tawa chapati.

Dahi chicken

By Aditya Jha, head chef, In-Q, The Manor, Delhi

Holi celebration, Holi sweets, Holi festival, Holi in India, thandai, gujiyas, indian express news, indian express talk

Dahi chicken


For chicken

Chicken breast: 150 gm
Salt to taste
Buttermilk: 3 gm
Coriander, chopped: 2 gm
Ginger paste: 3 gm
Garlic paste: 5 gm
Cumin powder: a pinch

For yoghurt curry

Mustard oil: 20 ml
Coriander seeds (crushed): 3 gm
Garlic, chopped: 6 gm
Red chillies, whole: 2 pieces
Bay leaf: 1
Chopped ginger: 4 gm
Onion, sliced: 1 large onion
Ghee: 10 gm
Boiled cashew paste: 8 gm
Yoghurt: 120 gm

Method: Mix all the ingredients for the chicken and allow the meat to marinate for at least two hours. Heat a nonstick pan, pan sear the breast and cook in a preheated oven at 160C for 20 minutes. For the sauce, heat mustard oil in a pan and add dry spices. Add chopped garlic and onion and saute. Now add ginger, cashew paste and yoghurt together and keep stirring to avoid yoghurt to split. Allow sauce to simmer for 20 minutes, then strain it and reserve. Arrange the breast on a platter, then pour the yoghurt curry, garnish with tossed coriander seeds and chili flakes.