India has a healthy pulsating heart fed by the lifeline of festivals and festivities! In fact getting down to jotting the top 5 Indian festive foods is one tough task! The Indian calendar is choc a bloc with festivals and the brevity of this column just does not allow us to list all of them! There is pageantry, celebrations, good food and camaraderie what with seasonal and harvest festivals, the birthdays of various Gods and prophets and the celebration to commemorate the victory of good over evil.
When one thinks of Indian sweets and savouries that portray the festive spirit, foods like samosa, halwa, barfi, karanji, gulab jamuns, payasam come to mind. But this is not all and you will realize it once we summarise the Indian festivals.
Come monsoons and it is also the time for most festivals. It is a time of plenty with harvest time. So while Nagpanchami starts the season, Janmashtami celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna. It is time to fast and then feast on puris and kheer. Soon after, Lord Ganesha presides with the prasad of steamed and fried modaks that He adores. As the western part celebrates Ganesh Chaturthi, the eastern states welcome Navratri in October. Bengal, Orissa and Bihar have overflowing thalis of sandesh, pedhas, luchis, and other festive delicacies. On the tenth day, Dasshera is celebrated all over the country and the pageant in Mysore’s Chamundi Temple is worth a visit. The north specializes in dramatized Ramlila and food and fireworks are the highlight of the celebrations. Diwali follows closely. Boxes of dry fruits, chocolates, mithais and savouries are exchanged large heartedly among friends and relatives. It is a hectic five-day period with huge lunches and dinners! January of the new year welcomes Sankranti in Maharashtra and Gujarat, Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Lohri in Punjab with jaggery and sesame seed laddoos and a frenzy of kite flying. Holi, the festival of colours in March sees households making traditional sweets.
Each state also has special festivals: like Rajasthan has Teej, and Kerala has Onam. While the sweet spongy ghevars of Rajasthan win over hearts, the massive feast of banana wafers, sweets and coconut rice and sweets made at Onam leave indelible memories. So whenever you think of what could be the top 5 Indian festive recipes you would probably not just stop at 5!
Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.