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Holi is one of the few festivities which get neighbours to come out of Mumbai’s apartment complexes and have fun. Friends get together and celebrate Holi through house parties. The Bollywood Holi parties in Mumbai are the stuff of legends. The most famous were the ones thrown by RK Studios.
Holi parties mean lots of sweets. Ghevar and gujias enjoy pride of place. All of these are washed down by thandais.
Sweet shops get into the spirit of things. Gujias, sweet dumplings which are made from semolina and flour and are stuffed with khoya, might originally be from North India but during Holi you can get it in sweet shops such as Punjab Sweets and Regal Plus in Mumbai.
You get the Gujarati version of ghevar during Holi though the dessert is mainly associated with the Teej festival. This sweet dish made from flour, oil and sugar syrup is disc shaped and is quite the crunchy sugary delight. It can be found in many of Mumbai’s Gujarati-owned sweet shops. One of the most famous in this genre is the M M Mithaiwala chain. Local shops such as Regal plus offer ghevar too.
Mumbai is the city of experimentation when it comes to food. So the traditional thandai which used to be kesar flavoured has variations too. Today your thandai mix could even come in guava and rose flavours and even lemon grass (!). Traditionally thandai used to be made by crushing the various ingredients and spices that went into it on grinding stones. It is much easier today when you get premixes in shops and even readymade versions. This is the perfect cooling drink before summer hits the city.
Khane Khas in Bandra for years has been famous for the thandais that they serve on Holi. They have a special menu going out before Holi for regulars to order from and supply to parties too.
So let your hair down on Holi and go and gorge on some delicious sweets and then cool down with thandai this year.
Kalyan Karmakar authors the popular award winning blog, Finely Chopped and is an authority on the food of Mumbai. His extensive knowledge of the city's food scene has been featured in publications such as Femina, Mumbai Mirror and BCC Good Food. He was one of the founding critics of EazyDiner's Mumbai team.