The different flowers of my mother's garden, each have their own story to tell. At the height of summer, the mogra, jasmine, 'raat ki rani' and frangipane flowers are in full bloom. Their sweet scent infusing the Summer evenings, providing that much needed succour. You know the monsoon is receding when the flowers of the 'harsingar' trees carpet the ground every morning. And in good time, as they are extensively used during the festive season of Navratri that coincides around the same time. The roses make the first of their bi-annual appearance to signal the onset of Winter. The red hibiscus flowers through the year, used for her daily puja.
And then there's Holi!! This is when all the seasonal flowers she has planted at the onset of Winter are now in full bloom, all in their myriad of colours. Some like the calendula, the phlox and the hollyhock are exotic to the Indian soil. And then there are the marigolds, the roses and the hibiscus, native to India. Dried and then ground into a fine dust, these flowers provide the perfect palette of natural colours to play Holi with!!
It points to a symbiotic relationship between our festivals and nature and how over time, we have lost touch with it. It is time we look more closely to rediscover this connect with nature. So, I hope you used natural, herbal colours, devoid of chemicals, when you played Holi today!! It is a small step to a more sustainable planet!
And what's Holi without something sweet. I kept it simple today and made some Shrikhand. For those not familiar with it, it is similar to the Middle eastern labneh.
Incredibly easy to make. Once you have let the yoghurt drain through the night, it takes barely a few minutes to put together. I will insist that you use full fat yoghurt. It helps immensely with the final result. I have flavoured these with classic Indian flavours, saffron and cardamom.
I have always bought Shrikhand shop bought. But all that changed with the one time I made Shrikhand at home. It was fresher, creamier, lighter and best of all, did not leave a cloyingly sweet aftertaste. I urge you to make it at home once. Pretty sure you will be converted like me!
Holi is all about colours and may your days be filled with the most beautiful that life has to offer! Happy Holi!!
Shrikhand - Sweet Saffron and Cardamom Yoghurt
- 500 gms thick yoghurt
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- a few strands saffron
- 1/2 tablespoon warm milk
- 1 teaspoon cardamom powder
- slivers of pistachios, for garnish
- Line a large sieve with a double layer of kitchen paper or a cheese cloth. Place over a bowl and pour in the yoghurt. Refrigerate overnight, or at least 5-6 hours, until all the whey has drained off.
- Heat the milk and crumble the saffron strands into the hot milk. Leave to infuse for 8-10 minutes, crushing the strands in the milk with a back of a spoon.
- Sift the sugar into the yoghurt and stir in along with the saffron milk and cardamom powder.
- Taste and adjust the sugar, if necessary.
- Chill and serve garnished with slivers of pistachios.