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Thali Menu #159 – Holi Special

4 Mar, 2020

Thali Menu #159 – Holi Special

About Holi

Holi is a Hindu spring festival, originating from the Indian subcontinent, celebrated predominantly in India and Nepal. It is called the Festival of Colours. The festival signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, end of winter, and for many a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair broken relationships. Holi is celebrated with a special fevour and gusto in North India especially in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar states.

It is also celebrated as a thanksgiving for a good harvest. It lasts for a night and a day, starting on the evening of the Full moon night of the Hindu month of Phalgun. The first evening is known as Holika Dahan (burning of demon holika) or Chhoti Holi and the following day as Holi, Rangwali Holi, Dhuleti, Dhulandi celebrated with colours and feasting.

Holi in Brij

While Holi is celebrated in almost every part of India, Holi in Braj is especially famous. Braj is a historical region which covers the area of Mathura, Vrindavan and some nearby areas. Mathura is the birth-place of Lord Krishna, and Vrindavan is the place where he grew up in his childhood.

As the story goes, when Krishna was young, he cribbed to his mother about Radha (his friend) being fair while he himself was dark-complexioned. His mother (Yashoda) suggested him to colour Radha with colours in a playful manner. So, Krishna from his village, Nandgaon, used to go to Barsana (Radha’s village) to colour Radha and her friends. In turn Radha and her friends also used to playfully beat Krishna with sticks. And hence the tradition evolved called ‘Lathmar Holi’. ‘Lathmar’ literally translates to beating someone with sticks!

Barsana Holi celebrations start about a week before the actual date of Holi. Barsana is a village near Mathura, and it was the village of Radha. It is famous for its lathmar Holi in which women beat men (playfully) with sticks. 

Celebrations in Barsana is followed up by similar celebrations in Nandgaon (Krishna’s village) on the very next day. Nandgaon has found a reference in religious texts as the place where Krishna spent most of his childhood days. According to legends, after Krishna went to Barsana to put colour on Radha and her friends came to Nandgaon on the next day to put colour on Krishna. And hence, Holi celebrations shift from Barsana to Nandgaon.

Satvik Meal

Satvik diet is a diet based on foods in ayurvedic and yogic literature that contain the quality (guna) sattva.] In this system of dietary classification, foods that decrease the energy of the body are considered tamasic, while those that increase the energy of the body are considered rajasic.

A satvik diet is meant to include foods and eating habits that are “pure, essential, natural, vital, energy-containing, clean, conscious, true, honest, wise”. A satvik diet can also exemplify Ahimsa, the practice of non-violence, or not causing harm to other living things, which is one reason that yogis often follow a vegetarian diet.

A satvik diet is a regimen that places emphasis on seasonal foods, fruits if one has no sugar problems, dairy products if the cow is fed and milked in the right conditions, nuts, seeds, oils, ripe vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and non-meat based proteins.

A satvik diet is sometimes referred to as a yogic diet in modern literature. In ancient and medieval era Yoga literature, the concept discussed is ‘Mitahara’, which literally means “moderation in eating”.

Recipe of the Week

Punjabi Matar Paneer

Indian cottage cheese cooked with tomato, ginger and green peas
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Punjabi


  • Frying Pan
  • Heavy bottom pot
  • Frying Spoon
  • Blender
  • Mixing Bowl


For Frying Paneer

  • 500 gms Paneer
  • Oil for shallow frying paneer

For Curry

  • 2 tbsp Oil
  • 250 gms White onion finely chopped
  • 2 inc Ginger roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp Coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Chilli Poweder
  • 400 gms Tomatoes blended to a puree
  • 1 Pinch of sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 200 Ml water
  • 200 gms Frozen green peas
  • ½ tsp Garam masala powder
  • ¼ bunch coriander- chopped for garnish


  • Lightly dry roast and grind the cumin seeds and coriander seeds to a powder in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar and set aside.
  • Blend the ginger and garlic with some water to a smooth paste and set aside.
  • Dab any excess moisture from the paneer on kitchen paper and cut into bite size cubes.
  • Heat vegetable oil for shallow frying in a pan over a medium heat. Add the paneer cubes in batches and fry till light golden brown, remove and add to a bowl of warm water. Let it soak while you make the gravy.
  • Heat oil in a heavy bottom pot over medium heat. Add the onions and fry till golden brown, turn the heat to low and add the ginger and garlic paste. Saute well for 2 minutes stirring continuously.
  • Add the cumin, coriander powder along with the turmeric and chilli powder. Fry for a minute and add a bit of water to prevent burning, and continue cooking till the raw flavour of the spices is gone.
  • Add in the blended tomatoes, simmer the curry over a low heat for 8-10 minutes with lid on. Stir a couple of times through the cooking process.
  • Add 200mls water along with the sugar and salt. Continue to simmer for 5 minutes with the lid on.
  • Add frozen green peas along with the garam masala.
  • Drain the water from the paneer and add the cubes to the curry.
  • Stir well making sure to coat all the pieces with the sauce. Simmer for 2 minutes and turn the heat off.
  • Garnish with coriander and serve with paratha or pulao and raita.