Holi sweets, the Sindhi way: Reinventing the lost art of Sindhi sweet making

Geeyar, Pragiri, Tahiri or Koki are all tasty Sindhi sweets prepared on Holi. It's time to revisit their glories!

 |  6-minute read |   21-03-2019
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Holi is one such colourful festival, everyone from kids to grown-ups love to celebrate it! And if it's a festival in India, there ought to be sweets and snacks to go with it. 

Which is why we have Holi-special sweets just to celebrate this day. 

In the northern part of India, across the Hindi belt, gujiyas stuffed with mawa are popular, as is thandai. There are always savoury snacks, like samosas and kachori-chole, for that perfect accompaniment to the gujiyas.

While every community has its own special dishes, some sweets may be common, like kheer or milk pudding, made with rice or sago and milk. Similarly, Gulab jamuns are also very popular. And then there is the wondrous laddoo — available in all regions, in their own little variations.

collage_032019092706.jpgEvery region in India has a special dish for Holi! (Source: DailyO)

Sindhi cuisine, however, is very different — tasty but little known, despite Sindhis living in most parts of Northern and Western India. And Sindhis have special dishes for Holi too.

A Sindhi resident of Ahmedabad, Deepa Wadhwani, explained the customs and traditions they follow on Holi. She said, “We Sindhis celebrate Holi is a special way. We make sweet koki with wheat flour, ghee and jaggery water. We make small bakris out of it and then tie it with a string and roast them on dried cow dung. But the beauty is that the string does not burn. This symbolises what Holika did when she gave Prahlad a shawl to cover himself when he was made to sit in the fire. He was not burnt and so we believe that here too the string does not burn due to God’s blessings.”

Another Sindhi housewife, Urvashi Dama, a resident of Shivaji Park in Mumbai, said, “We also make aloo samosas and pakoras along with the koki, and after puja, we eat ourselves, as well as feed Brahmins. Also, we buy large Sindhi Jalebis called Gheeyar — a Holi special dish, since it is not normally made at homes anymore.”

28428883_99583791724_032019092922.jpgA Gheeyar is a large jalebi — what's not to love? (Source: YouTube screengrab)

Sindhis also make pragiri — a puff with a stuffing of sweet mawa and dry fruits which is then dunked in sugar syrup. There is a varient of small samosas stuffed with mawa. Also popular among Sindhis is taheri — sweet rice with dry fruits. This dish is a staple on many festival occasions and weddings.

Most of these dishes are also available in stores as few families have the time to make them at home now.

Acclaimed food expert who has authored several books on various Indian cuisines, Anil Mulchandani, a Sindhi himself, had this to say about the culture, traditions and cuisine of Sindhis: “As Sindhis lost their motherland post-Partition and are now spread out across the country, many are losing touch with our traditions, food items, rituals and other aspects of our culture.” This could be one reason for the lost art of Sindhi sweet-making at home. "In our house, we get gheeyar from one of the Sindhi sweet shops on Holi," he concluded. 

We give you a typical Sindhi sweet recipe, so that Sindhi sweets are not lost forever.

Recipe of Pragiri

Ingredients 

For the dough

Maida - 500 gms

Vansapati ghee or oil - 100 gms

Water and milk mixture in equal parts - 1.5 cup

Pinch of salt

alka-keswani14773241_032019093343.jpgPragiri is a sweet, flaky, puff pastry. (Source: YouTube screengrab) 

For the stuffing

Mawa (milk solid) - 250 gms

Sugar - 100 gms

Pure ghee - 1 tsp

Mixed dry fruits - 1 cup

Grated dry coconut - 1 cup

Elachi powder - ¼ tsp

Saffron - 8-10 strands

Milk - 1 tbsp

For the syrup

Sugar - 1kg

Water - 500 gms

Elachi - ¼ tsp

Saffron - 10-12 strands

Oil or Vanaspati ghee - 1 kg

Dry maida - 100 gms

Silver film for decoration (optional)

Cut dry fruits for garnishing

Method

Take maida or refined flour in a plate and add the oil or vegetable ghee (whatever you are using) and a pinch of salt. Mix well.

Then add the mixture of water and milk slowly and knead into soft dough. Use the liquid mixture as required for the dough. If you need more liquid, make a little more mixture of water and milk and if less is needed, don’t worry about the leftover mixture. Cover and keep aside to rest for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare the stuffing. Take one teaspoon of pure ghee in a pan. Keep the flame on medium heat. Add the mawa and mix. Break the mawa into small pieces before adding or if needed, grate the mawa if it is too hard. Mix this for 2 minutes. Reduce flame to slow and add the sugar and grated coconut and mix till sugar dissolves, for about 3-4 minutes. Then add the dry fruits, mix well and switch off the flame. Then add elachi powder and saffron strands soaked in a tablespoon of milk for 10-15 minutes in the mawa mixture. Keep aside to cool.

For the syrup, take a thick-bottomed pan. Add the sugar and water and cook it till a syrup is formed which shouldn’t be very thick. To check, take a drop of syrup and put it on your thumb and press with your forefinger. If the strand forms a thin string when you put your finger and thumb apart, you have the right consistency of syrup. If the syrup is too thick, it will form multiple strands between your finger and thumb and if it is too thin, there will be no strands.

Once you have the right consistency, switch off the flame and add the elachi powder and saffron strands soaked in a little water. Keep aside.

Now make small lemon-sized balls and roll 12-14 rotis out of them. Next, put a maida roti which you have rolled on board and liberally spread some ghee on it. Then dust a little dry maida flour on it and put the second roti on top of it. Again spread ghee on it and dust a little dry flour on it and add the third roti on it. Continue this till you finish piling all the 12-14 rotis on top of each other, adding ghee and dry maida in-between each roti.

Then cut the roti stack into four equal pieces by making two diagonal cuts. You will get four equal quarters. Take one quarter, pull it a little to make it bigger or roll it out a bit.

Now take a spoonfull of the sweet mawa stuffing and add it to the centre of the cut roti quarter. Wet the sides of the roti quarter with a little water or the water and milk mixture if you have some left. Take one pointed side and press it towards the other side, making a flat triangle out of it with the stuffing inside. Press the sides nicely to seal the edges — so that it doesn’t burst open while frying.

Make another batch of rotis to finish your dough and stuffing.

Now heat the oil or vanaspati ghee in a frying pan or kadhai to medium heat and heat the pragiris 2-3 at a time till they are golden in colour. You will see that the layers will split open at the edges — which looks beautiful.

Remove from oil and then put the pragiris in the sugar syrup and after they have been coated in sugar syrup, remove on a plate and add the silver film on it. Garnish with some dry fruits.

Your pragiris are ready to eat! Happy Holi!

Also read: 5 iconic dishes to make yours a truly happy Holi!

Writer

Sonal Kellogg Sonal Kellogg @journolady

Independent journalist, writer, Child Sexual Abuse survivor & activist and a strong voice against sexual abuse.

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