Sweeten your festival of colours

(Itiriti: Jyoti Gupta pens down the second post under Guestspeak to guide Itiriti’s readers through a cooking trail of Gujia- a sweetmeat eaten across Northern India on the occasion of Holi- the festival of colours.  Jyoti Gupta is a student of Sociology and loves to paint. Safe Holi! Happy reading!)

Whenever I revisit my childhood, among all other moments, there comes the day of Holi in my mind. The celebration of the festival starts with ‘Holikadahan’ on the night of ‘choti holi’ (the day preceding Holi). The following day is called ‘badi holi’ or ‘Dhulendi’ when people visit each other’s houses carrying ‘gulal’; younger generation would generally have chemical mix or synthetic colours.  Faces and bodies are imbued followed by greeting and hugging each other.It is suggested that on this day we should forgive our enemies and lend a hand of friendship, marking a new beginning. This idea of forgiveness makes the festival spiritually rich. Holi is exclusive because of its special food items- tempting and spicy ‘Panike bare’ and sweet ‘Gujia’.

 As a kid, ‘Gujia’ – the sweet samosa – was cherished by me for two reasons. Firstly, this is the only sweet prepared during a festival which is not offered to God during main ‘puja’ (as in the case of other Hindu festivals); you can have it right then and there. Secondly, Gujia preparation is a collective effort with equal participation from family members, relatives and sometimes even neighbours come together. Though this practice might not be prevalent in cities but I was lucky to come across in the various story telling sessions of my grandmother (grandma).

Like any other middle class family, my grandma also tried to pass each and every skill of cooking that she knew to me. Similarly, as a curious child, I tried to learn everything religiously. Generally women prepare ‘gujia’, but as I have witnessed, men also have petty roles to play.

‘Gujia’ has mainly two sections- cover  and the filling. Cover is universally made of ‘maida’ and filling can be of various sorts depending upon one’s taste. It can vary from the pure ‘khoya’ (hard milk) to ‘suji’ (‘rava’ or semolina) to dry fruits to coconut and so on. The ‘gujia’ that we make is primarily made of ‘khoya’ while having all other mentioned ingredients as part of the filling. 

For cover, ‘maida’ is kneaded with ‘ghee’ and hot water. It is to be taken care that the mixture should be tight enough (tighter than that is used for chapattis). For stuffing, ‘khoya’ is to be mixed with fried ‘suji’, powdered sugar, grated coconut and other dry fruits- cashew nuts, almonds and raisins etc.  A solution of ‘maida’ and water is also made that is to be used as glue.

Solution of Maida and Water

Figure 1: Solution of Maida and Water

Once these three mixtures are ready, small balls of tight ‘maida’ mixture are prepared; these are then uniformly rolled out converting into round sheets. 


Figure 2: Maida Balls

Figure 3: Rolled Maida Balls.

Loose ‘maida’ solution is then pasted on half of the round ‘maida’ sheet and then the filling is done. The round sheet is folded in a way making it a half stuffed circle.

Figure 4: Loose Maida Solution during stuffing

Figure 4: Fold neatly the sides

With the help of a side cutting machine, this stuffed circle is then given a design on its corners; that makes it look aesthetically beautiful.

Figure 5: Side cutting tool

Figure 6: Gujias after the design

Rest of the ‘maida’ balls go through the same process. While this process is going on these raw ‘gujia’ are kept on specially constructed neat and clean bedding. These are placed delicately and covered with a thin cloth. Once all ‘gujia’s are stowed, those are deep fried together.

Figure 7: Gujias after frying

Almost always we are left with some extra ‘maida’ mixture that we use to make ‘namakparay’. That is how you get a combination of hot and sweet ‘gujia’ and salty ‘namakparay’.

Figure 8: Namakparay

Try making ‘gujia’ and celebrate Holi with enthusiasm

Happy Holi 🙂

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