Are gujiyas and kachoris your favourite Holi delicacies? Chef Sabyasachi Gorai gives them a nutritious twist to let you celebrate this festival with a dash of health!
Holi, or Dol Jatra as it is referred to in my home state West Bengal, brings back memories of home-cooked savouries and sweets. My mother would make dhokar dalna – spiced lentil cake that fried and then simmered in a thick tomato gravy, tempered with ginger paste, cumin and coriander – while my father, who was on a constant mission to get us to eat seasonal vegetables, would whip up cutlets that replaced potatoes with seasonal produce such as beetroot, arbi (colocasia root) and kathal (jackfruit), which my sister and I would devour instantly.
As time has passed, people have become more particular about what they eat. Treats traditionally dipped in sugar syrup are being baked, and heavier ingredients are being replaced by healthier and tastier alternatives. The health benefits of recipes that utilise seasonal ingredients, bought from local farmers, are being widely acknowledged as part of the slow food movement (food that is produced or prepared in accordance with local culinary traditions, typically using high-quality, locally sourced ingredients). As a chef, while I thoroughly enjoy the gujiyas and kachoris that are synonymous with the festival of colours, I also enjoy adding a twist to them – be it in the ingredients or the method of preparation. My attempt is always to draw on the strengths of traditional Holi cuisine, while adding a modern and healthy touch. Here are a few such fusion delicacies you must try:
In this particular preparation, the regular gujiya, stuffed with homemade cottage cheese and khoya (reduced milk), is baked instead of deep-fried, making it a healthier treat. Also, the sugar syrup, or chashni, in which the gujiya is traditionally dipped, is replaced with honey sourced from the Sunderbans (Sundarbans).
This is a modern and healthy twist to the much-loved traditional stuffed kachori. This special kind of kachori can be prepared using flour made of superfoods, such as amaranth (rajgira) with a spiced beetroot stuffing. These kachoris are baked instead of being deep-fried, and can be served with fresh green tomato salsa.You can add your own variations of stuffings and superfood flours.
Puran poli gateaux
This is a contemporary interpretation of the classic puran poli, an Indian sweet flatbread stuffed with jaggery. Instead of having it with the katachi amti (tempered lentils), ghee or yoghurt, stack a few puran polis one on top of the other, and top the pile with sweet corn custard and nolen gur (date palm jaggery) syrup. This adds an interesting twist to the flavour profile of the dish.
Banana blossom pakora
Indians never need an occasion to savour pakoras. But there is a way to make this battercoated, deep-fried, sumptuous delicacy a tad healthier without compromising on taste. Instead of gram flour, try using batter made with green coconut flour. Pakoras made using this flour can be served with homemade coriander chutney.
Onion flower dolma
Dolma is a curry-based stuffed vegetable delicacy that is especially popular in the eastern part of India. The onion flower dolma, a variation I have created, is prepared with seasonal spring onions and black sesame seeds as stuffing.
One of the most beautiful aspects of festivals in our country is that they bring about joyous gatherings of dear ones, bonding over food. Let us celebrate the traditional delicacies of Holi this year by adding a new ingredient of wellness to them, and making them memorable for more than just how delicious they are!
The author is a renowned chef and the views expressed in this article are his own