Some celebrations are remarkably similar across far-flung culture lines. And some, like Holi, are unique. A Hindu celebration of spring, Holi, known as the festival of colors, has become popular even in non-Hindu communities in recent years thanks to its unusual and, dare we say, Instagrammable tradition of throwing or smearing colored powders and paints on other people. Great clouds of bright pinks and vivid blues fly into the air, and people wearing white are covered in a rainbow before the day is through. It’s like happiness made visible.
Though there are traditional Holi dishes, many are fried and rather fussy, so we decided to observe it here at the Festive Food Project with a simple and delicious chana saag, chickpeas and spinach cooked down into a sumptuous vegetarian curry. We also discovered that one of the reasons behind Holi’s party atmosphere may be its traditional drink, bhang lassi, which is basically a marijuana milkshake. Since that may not be what you had in mind for dinner this week (though if it is, there are plenty of recipes online…), we’re offering you a tart and refreshing mango lassi as a sober but equally delicious substitute.
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tsp grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
2 15-oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 lb spinach, well washed and roughly chopped
½ tsp garam masala
Optional: ½ tsp mango powder (amchoor) or lemon juice to taste
Salt to taste
Optional: toasted naan or basmati rice
In a medium sized sauté pan, heat the oil on high and then toss in the chopped onions and a pinch of salt. Sauté the onions, stirring so they don’t burn, until the onion starts turning a pale golden, then add the ginger and garlic and cook for another few minutes until the onions brown.
Add the turmeric and cumin and stir for a minute. Add tomatoes and stir for a couple of minutes, scraping up spices from bottom of pan if necessary. Add half a cup of water, lower the heat to medium and let the mixture bubble vigorously.
In about five minutes, when you see oil oozing through the surface of the masala, stir in spinach, letting some wilt down before you add it all if necessary, and chickpeas.
Cook for five more minutes. Salt to taste, sprinkle garam masala and amchoor powder (or lemon juice) all over and serve hot, with naan or rice if you like.
We like to keep some Stonefire brand naan http://stonefire.com/products/naan in the freezer. It’s available in most grocery stores and reheats nicely.
2 cups of yogurt
1 cup of mango puree, fresh or canned*
½ cup sugar
1 tsp lime juice
Handful of fresh mint leaves (optional)
10-12 ice cubes
Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 3 days.
*We used Ratna brand Alphonso mango pulp https://patelbrothersusa.com/store/index.php?rt=product/product&product_id=1378