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Holi food is prepared for the Indian festival Holi, which is also known as Doljatra or Vasant Utsav. It is one of the major festivals of India and is celebrated on phalgun purnima(a full moon day in the months of February and March) in a number of Indian states and the neighboring countries of Nepal, Pakistan and other countries where Hinduisim is practised to a considerable extent. Puran Poli, gujiya, thandai , chaat and dahi bhalle are some of the dishes that are traditionally prepared in Indian homes for the occasion.

Traditional Holi Recipes

Each state has its own traditional holi recipes but some holi dishes are similar in almost all religions.Traditionally, ‘gujiyas’ are prepared by stuffing fried ‘khoya’ mixed with dry fruits and sugar. All these holi dishes need advance preparations and involve various Indian spices and ingredients.

Holi meal is an assortment of sweets, snacks and beverages along with special non-vegetarian and vegetarian dishes. A special drink called ‘thandai’ is prepared with milk and various dry fruits. This drink is intoxicated with ‘bhang’ and served as a traditional holi beverage. ‘kanji ka pani’ and ‘Bhaang ke ladoo’ are also very commonly served dishes at holi meal. Snacks such as pakodas, samosa, kachori and saankhein are having their own importance in traditional Holi food.

Among the main dishes, some of the most popular holi dishes are mutton kababs, butter chicken, methi paneer and biryani. Alcohol is also found to be associated with the traditional Holi meal.

Healthy Alternatives

Most of the traditional dishes made on holi are high in calories as they are either fried or sweet. Such dishes cannot be eaten by diabetics and people suffering from obesity and heart ailments. Healthier alternative to these dishes can be made.

  • Puran poli - Sugar can be substituted with sugar - free alternative or other artificial sweeteners. Minimal fat can be used to pan fry these flatbreads. Whole wheat breads can also be made.
  • Dahi bhalle - Special brown bread dahi bhalle can be made by making a dough with brown bread and milk. This can be substituted for the fried bhallas used. Brown bread is also a rich source of dietary fiber. They will reduce the calorific value of the dish.
  • Chaat - Baked papri can be used insteaad of using fried ones. Whole wheat flour papris can be used instead of refined flour ones as they are rich in dietary fiber.
  • Gujiya - Baked gujiyas can be made instead of deep fried ones. Gujiyas have a a rich filling with nuts and evaporated milk and are high in calories. Some calories can be cut down if the snack is baked.
  • Thandai - Holi can never be complete with thandai. People suffering from lactose intolerance can make an alternative using soy milk. It is high in protein and is also a good option for weight watchers. The herbs and spices used to make thandai have a cooling effect on the stomach as per ayurveda.

Significance of Holi Recipes

Originally, the Holi dishes are prepared to celebrate the festival of colors in Hindu religion. In olden times, people used to play with colors and while playing, they needed snacks and sweets and hence the tradition of making these holi recipes has started. The ladies use to prepare various dishes few days before the actual festival.

Holi festival is associated with Lord Krishna and Radha. Lord Krishna was fond of milk and butter hence sweets made up of milk are quiet famous holi foods.

Modern Holi Recipes

Holi food has many things associated with it, but recent years have seen various significant changes in the preparation of holi dishes. Traditionally, the only drink associated with holi was ‘thandai’, but in modern times, various alcoholic drinks and cocktails are gaining popularity. Even very famous ‘golgappas’ are also getting new dimensions by serving it with vodka rather than with spicy jaljeera. Other spicy chaat and pakodas are also being served with ‘bhaang’. Tequila golgappas, yogurt lassi with vodka and rum chuski are some of the modern Holi recipes. Homemade fried snacks and sweets are passé. All types of snacks and traditional sweets are easily available in packed form. Holi recipes are now customized according to the occasion and taste of people.

Customary Way of Serving Holi Dishes

The way of serving Holi dishes is not very formal, as Holi is a festival of enjoyment and playing with colors. Friends and family gather at one place to celebrate the festival and put colors on each other as a holi custom. Snacks and drinks are served as and when required. Main meal is served after the holi celebrations are over. Main meal includes several types of main dishes, side dishes and pickles and chutneys. In the end, sweet gujiyas are served as a part of dessert.


• ‘Phagua’ is a traditional holi meal offered to a lady by her younger brother-in-law.
• Holi food comprises salty and spicy food where as Diwali food mainly consists of sweets.