I stumbled upon Indian Simmer a few months back and have been totally mesmerized by her mind blowing photographs and crisp and friendly writing and recipes. The exact date and time went unmarked, but we had started conversing beyond our blogs and social media. Prerna is sweet and very talented and she says that she is Trying to blend my two passions Food & Photography into one and simmering it all together at IndianSimmer." Well, I have to say, her work does not just "simmer", it also sizzles and it is gorgeous! I was beyond surprised when Prerna generously invited me do a guest post for her blog. I am indeed delighted to contribute to her space. Prerna, thank you very much for this opportunity and honor.
An important Indian festival Holi is just around the corner! Prerna asked me if I can do a Holi special post, so I will share a bit about this exuberant Indian festival today.
Holi is the Festival of Colors and is undoubtedly the most fun filled of all the festivals in India. As the winter trails off, we move ahead to celebrate the advent of spring, on the last full moon day of the lunar month. This festival is tied to a lot of religious significances as are all the other festivals in India, and also signifies the triumph of good over evil. However, as we all see it, Holi is to welcome the season of spring and of love, brimming with a palate of lovely hues. In some states of India, Holi is also known as the Vasanta Utsav (Vasanta=Spring Utsav=Festival). This incredibly beautiful festival paints the soul, and spreads the love; colored powders called Gulaal (pronounced: Goolaal), create a rainbow of joy and promises against the bright blue sky and the crisp air, binding together friends and family with love and warmth, as the weather warms up and the nature takes on its own color.
Memories abundantly flow in and water my soul at this time. The fervent wait, the planning and dreaming with my friends and cousins rippled down to the day of colorful mirth and laughter. Huge bonfires are burnt on the eve of Holi to commemorate the victory of good over evil.
Every citizen looks forward to the pure happiness and fun, music, play and dance, lots of bright colors and to end it all, an extravaganza in food. Numerous buckets stand lined up, shimmering with liquid colors and waiting to be filled into the water squirts and balloons. Colored powders heap and spill over from the newspaper packets. Green, pink, red, turquoise - merging, overlapping and creating their own abstract patterns. The meetings with friends and family initiate with a hug and a tika/tikka (a touch of color/gulaal between the brows on the forehead) and culminates with chasing one another and an unspoken contest of who can smear more color on the other, to an extent where it becomes difficult to recognize a face.
We were fortunate enough to be India a few years back during Holi, and had a rocking "wild" time. Here are a couple of photographs of my immediate family from our last visit to India during Holi, and as you can guess, the day had just begun.
The kids at are play and preparing to fill the squirt with colored water.
As it is with all festivals, every home in India gets busy with making a variety of recipes for family and friends to share. These Moroccan cookies are very similar to the Indian Lime Cookies or even a traditional dessert snack called Nan Khatai - an Indian version of the short bread cookie.
Moroccan cuisine like Indian cuisine, is exotic and exquisite. The myriad cultural influences and the fresh home-grown fruits and vegetables in both the nations make the cuisines rich, diverse and fascinating. Spices, fruits, nuts, ghee/clarified butter, oranges and orange blossom water and honey are used in abundance to create recipes that are delectable, flavorsome and enticing.
We will all come together as one and celebrate and welcome a blooming season, with this not so traditional recipe. Ghoriba is a term which refers to a number of Moroccan cookies that are shaped by hand. Today's recipe is a simple Ghoriba, made of almond flour and flavored with cardamom, orange zest and orange blossom water.
With the looks similar to the crinkle cookies, tasting very much like the short bread cookies but with a bit more crunch, a bit more texture and a whole lot of refreshing flavors, these make wonderful tea cookies or little bites of dessert.
Almond Ghoriba(adapted from Fresh Moroccan by Nadeh Sala)
- 3.5 tablespoons clarified butter/ghee (may be substituted with melted butter)
- 3 tablespoons peanut/or vegetable oil
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup ground almond or almond flour
- 5 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
- zest of 1 medium orange
- 1 tablespoon orange flower/blossom water
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2 cardamom pods, seeds finely crushed in 1/4 teaspoon confectioners' sugar (or use your favorite spice instead of cardamom)
- 1/3 cup coarsely chopped almonds
- almond flakes and confectioners' sugar for garnish/to top the cookies
Pour the ghee/melted butter and oil into a bowl, sift in the all purpose flour and stir in the confectioners' sugar; add the orange zest and rub the zest in to the flour. Tip in the ground almonds/almond flour. Combine the flour, the oil and ghee together, it will start to form crumbs. Add the orange flower water, water and ground cardamom.
Knead the above mixture for a few minutes in the bowl to form a dough, turn it out onto a clean surface. At first it may be crumbly, but keep kneading, shape it into a ball and place back in the bowl. (if it gets too difficult to form the dough, add water in fractions of teaspoon till the dough just comes together. It should be very firm, non spongy dough). Cover and let it stand for about 30 minutes.
Remove the dough and knead again, then add the coarsely chopped almonds and form into a ball. Pinch off a little dough the size of a walnut and roll and press between the palms to form a round shape. As you press it will naturally crack around its edges. This is how it is supposed to be. The finished cookies will have cracks all over them.
Repeat with the same with the remaining dough.
Place a couple almond flakes on the top of each cookie and gently press down for them to stick.
Place the cookies on a baking sheet and bake in a pre heated oven, 350 degree F for about 10-15 minutes or until the base starts to turn golden.
The base will be golden brown and the surface will have white cream color.
Remove from the oven, cool on a wire rack and serve with sprinkling of confectioners' sugar.