New Delhi — Bhavna Lamba, 28, has fond memories of her mother and grandmother in a kitchen bustling with the sound of utensils amid an intoxicating fragrance of sweet gujiyas and salty mathhis before Holi every year. Alas, she neither has the time nor the patience to cook such homemade delights. Quicker solutions from sweets shops and online orders come in handy.
“It’s a forgotten joy, really,” said Lamba, mother of a one-year-old.
It’s a common story for many young girls — married or single — who are trying hard to balance personal and professional lives.
“Where’s the time even if we want to cook for special occasions? I have a 9 am to 9 pm job, and there’s no time to even learn these things. For some years now, even my mother has stopped spending so much time and effort for homemade goodies, and we feel it’s best to just buy a box of sweets from the market,” said event management specialist Neha Batra, 31.
Popular chef Kunal Kapur reminisces about the days when his mother and grandmother used to make all the “Holi delights” at home from scratch.
“Try asking someone to make them today, and they say, ‘What? Excuse me,’” Kapur said.
“As far as traditions of cooking special dishes linked to festivals are concerned, very few houses are doing it. Women, mostly career-oriented, don’t want to enter the kitchen. So, somewhere the ritual is dying out.
“But in houses where the ritual is hardwired, they continue to make the goodies at home,” he added, suggesting that kheer, gujiya, laddoo and thandai are some easy and delectable items one can try.
Nivi Sharma, a Delhi-based journalist, feels a sense of pride that her mother still wakes up early every year on Holi to prepare fresh goodies. “It feels very special, but I don’t think I can ever do that.”
Giving quick and tempting solutions are sweets shop chains like Bikanervala, Evergreen Sweet House, Nathu’s Sweets and Haldiram’s.
“The main product for Holi is gujiya (a sweet dumpling stuffed with khoya),” said Deepta Gupta, executive vice president of Bikanervala Foods Pvt. Ltd., adding that they have as many as 25 varieties of gujiyas to cater to different tastes.
“We have dry gujiya, chaashni gujiya, kesar gujiya, those filled with dry fruits and even baked and sugar-free ones for people with diabetes as we don’t want anyone to stay away from the Holi joy. We get orders for boxes a week prior to the festival,” Gupta said.
A 1kg box of basic gujiya can cost anything between Rs. 250 and Rs. 350, based on where it is bought from. There are also special Holi hampers with a mix of gujiya, bhujia, syrups, thandai, and some colors.
Also offering these at your doorstep is online platform Sweets InBox, a startup by Pune-based Abhinav Khandelwal and his wife Radhika, who source traditional sweets and namkeens from different parts of the country by tying up with vendors across cities.
“Most households today have working couples. Many of them stay out of their family homes to build a career in other cities. They obviously miss traditional sweets of their region, and they don’t even have time to prepare the sweets and delicacies. So, they can place an online order on our platform,” said Abhinav, adding that they aim to make Holi sweeter for their customers with Holi hampers, too.
On another note, Kapur pointed out, “If men start taking an interest (in helping the woman of the house in the kitchen), things might turn around.”