Left: Thandai-Spiced Carrot Cake by Ankiet Gulabani; Right: Gujia Pie by Food Fashion Party

Homemade Thandai by The White Ramekins

Left: Rose Cake with Pistachio Pastry Cream and Raspberries by Bake With Shivesh; Right: Gujiya by Whisk Affair

Photographs courtesy Himanshu Taneja of The White Ramekins

Five Indian food bloggers twist the tried-and-true classic Holi recipes

by Nitija Shastri Mar 19, 2019 We're a day away from welcoming the much-awaited vibrant festival. If you are hosting a last-minute Holi party, give traditional recipes a modern twist with our pick of gobsmacking Holi recipes — from thandai spiced carrot cake to a sumptuous piece of gujia pie by five Indian food bloggers is sure to make your guests drool!

Thandai-Spiced Carrot Cake
Indulge the dessert-lover in you with this gratifying recipe by Instagrammer and blogger Ankiet Gulabani of Belly Over Mind. While we can't all be pastry chefs, we can all admire the artistry that goes into lending a modern interpretative twist to a spiced carrot cake. With his rendition of a Thandai-Spiced Carrot Cake, this master blogger is definitely on our list of creative bakers to watch out for.

250g red or orange carrots, grated or run in a food processor until fine
113g brown sugar
135g castor sugar
150ml vegetable oil
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g All purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
A pinch of salt
1 1/2 tsp Thandai masala
75g shredded/desiccated coconut

For the Thandai masala, Blitz together 1 tsp fennel seeds, 1 tsp melon seeds, 1/2 tsp black peppercorns, 2-3 green cardamom pods together in a mixer grinder.
Grease and line a loaf tin with baking parchment leaving an overhang on the long sides to easily lift the cake out of the tin. Preheat your oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
To begin, whisk together the carrots, the two sugars and the vegetable oil vigorously. Next, add the two eggs and vanilla extract and whisk them in well.
In another bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, the thandai masala, salt and the coconut. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in one swift motion and stir just to combine but not overmix. Transfer the cake batter to the lined tin and transfer to the oven to bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out with a few wet crumbs. Let the cake cool in the tin for 10 minutes before lifting the cake out with the help of the overhang and letting it cool completely.
Finish the cake if you like with a few tablespoons of Rich's Gold whipping cream, whipped to soft peaks with a smattering of pistachios on top. You could also layer the cake like I have, in which case you would have to torte it in the centre and fill the cream, then layer with the top. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes at least before serving.

Homemade Thandai
Blogger Himanshu Taneja of The White Ramekins delivers a nostalgic recipe straight from the mother’s kitchen. This quintessential festive beverage is a must-have in every Holi party. This refreshing drink is prepared with milk, dry nuts and flavoured with fragrant spices that are is ideal to cool you down in soaring temperatures!

50 gm almonds
50 gm cashew
20 whole black peppercorns
20 green cardamom
2 tbsp white poppy seeds
2 tbsp fennel seeds
2 tbsp melon seeds
2 tbsp edible dry rose petals
1/2 tsp saffron
2-litre milk
1/4 cup sugar, adjust as per your liking

Add all the ingredients except milk and sugar in the grinder and grind together to make a coarse powder. Then, add the powder and sugar to milk in a saucepan and give it a gentle boil. Chill in fridge overnight and let the flavours infuse into the milk. Serve chilled with extra ice.

Rose Cake with Pistachio Pastry Cream and Raspberries
Is there anything more beautiful than a perfectly layered cake? If you answered no, Shivesh Bhatia’s Instagram and a new debut cookbook, appropriately called Bake With Shivesh will be right up your alley. The 22-year-old food stylist and maverick will blow up your social feed with delectable treats and ethereal baked goods! Ever thought of adding pistachio as your pastry cream? Neither did we! To commemorate the glorious festival, the young baker has introduced a Rose Cake with Pistachio Pastry Cream and Raspberries. Are you in the festive mood already?

Rose Cake-
¾ cup softened butter
1 teaspoon rose water
1 cup castor sugar
4 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk

Pistachio Pastry Cream Filling
1 cup milk
2 egg yolks
¼ cup castor sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
½ cup pistachio, finely ground
1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
1 cup fresh raspberries

Line two 6” round cake pans. Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
In a large bowl, beat the butter with rose water. Add the castor sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Fold in the flour and baking powder and mix until everything is well combined. Beat in the milk. Divide the batter equally into the 2 cake pans and bake for 30-40 minutes. Let them cool completely. To make the pastry cream, bring the milk to a boil. In a bowl, combine egg yolks, sugar and corn starch.
Pour the hot milk on the egg mixture in three batched and mix well. Transfer the mixture back to the saucepan set over medium heat. Keep mixing vigorously until the pastry cream begins to thicken. Set if off heat and let it cool completely. Fold the pastry cream into the whipped cream and fold in the ground pistachios. Spread a generous layer of the pastry cream filling on the cooled cake layers. Top the cake with fresh raspberries!

Gujia Pie
A great dessert isn’t just about chocolate or caramel or sprinkles. It’s your mom’s nostalgic homemade delicacy, that yellowed handwritten recipe you found tucked in your grandma’s photo album. Gujiya Pie, a modern take on a beloved Indian treat. Gujiya or deep-fried hand pies are a quintessential treat for Holi. Making for an impressive spread, the celebratory dish is a contemporary reinterpretation by Asha Shiv of Food Fashion Party. We can’t wait to dig in!

For the flaky pie dough:
1 1/2 cups Whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted, chilled butter cut to small cubes
4 -6 tablespoons ice-cold water
!For the filling
1/2 cup khoya or mawa
2 eggs
1/3 tsp saffron
1/3 tsp fresh cardamom powder
pinch of flaky sea salt
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup sooji/cream of wheat
1/2 cup dried unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup coconut sugar or light brown sugar (if you don't have this substitute it with white sugar)
1 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup cashews
1/4 cup pistachios

Flaky Pie Dough
Place some flour (enough to be sure you have at least 1 1/2 cups) into a medium bowl with salt or food processor/Cuisinart. Whisk it to remove any clumps or run the food processor.
Add the butter in the food processor or you could break it up in the bowl.
Use a pastry cutter to cut it in until it resembles coarse crumbs. You want to still be able to see the pieces of shortening though so don't work it in too much.
Sprinkle 1 tablespoon water over the mixture on one side of the bowl. Use a fork to mix it into the flour mixture just in that section. Gradually work your way across the bowl, one tablespoon at a time. Only working 1 tablespoon of water into 1 small section makes it much easier to get the water evenly mixed into the dough instead of some portions (usually the top) being too wet and others too dry.
You've added enough water once it will hold together in a ball.
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Roll dough out turning dough 45 degrees between each roll.
Once the dough is 12 inches in diameter, transfer onto a 9-inch pie plate. Carefully fit dough to pie plate and trim dough to within 3/4-inch of rim.
Fold excess dough under to build up the edge. Use your fingers to flute edge.
Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before baking. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Set aside.

For the filling
In a nonstick pan on medium to low heat, roast the sooji/suji or cream of wheat until is very light brown and toasted. Take it out in a bowl.
Dry roast the almonds, cashews and pistachios lightly and do not brown it. Take it aside and cool.

In another bowl: add the mawa/khoya, eggs, saffron, cardamom, salt and nutmeg. Add the coconut sugar and sugar. Mix it very well until it is combined. Next, add the toasted sooji or cream of wheat to the mawa mixture along with the coconut. Then add half the nuts. Mix well. Pour in the prepared pie crust. Press it well. Add the remaining nuts and press it again well. Bake it in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes in a 350-degree oven. Take it out and let it cool for 2 hours before cutting.
Serve warm or cold.

Classic Gujia 
Lastly, if you are looking for a tried and tested recipe that will not let you down, this gujia recipe by Neha Mathur of Whisk Affair comes to your rescue. This iconic Holi recipe is a traditional Indian fried pastry stuffed with coconut and Khoya filling — garnering a special place in every food lover's heart. The blogger not only gives glimpses into her covetable kitchen and peeks at what's just popped out of the oven, least to say, we are also excited

For the dough
4 cups Maida
1/2 cup Ghee Melted
For the filing
200 g Khoya
2 cups Dry Coconut Finely grated
1/2 cup Chironji
1/2 cup Raisins
200 g Powdered Sugar
2 tsp Cardamom powder
For Sealant
2 tbsp Maida
3 tbsp Water

For the dough
Mix melted ghee with all-purpose flour and rub with your palms.
Knead a soft dough using water.
Cover and keep aside.

For the filling
Break the khoya into small pieces and fry till pinkish in colour.
Let it cool and then add grated coconut, chironji, raisins, caster sugar and cardamom powder. Mix well.

For Sealant
Mix maida and water in a bowl.

For Gujiya
Knead the dough for a minute. Divide it into 40 pieces. Roll each piece into a 4-inch disc. Keep the rolled discs in a plate covered with damp cloth. While rolling the dough, keep the remaining dough covered. Keep the rolled disc in the gujiya mould and fill it with 1 and ½ tsp of filling. Apply the sealant on the borders and press the mould. Remove the extra dough from around. Remove the gujiya from the mould and store in a plate covered with damp cloth. Make all the gujiyas in the same way. Heat ghee in a heavy bottom pan. Deep fry the gujiyas on medium-low flame till lightly browned. Let the gujiyas cool before storing them in an airtight container.

Photographs courtesy Himanshu Taneja of The White Ramekins