Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Colours of Holi - Gujiya flavoured Cupcakes

Dear Readers,

Firstly apologies, I wanted to have this post up before the festival of Holi and not a day after it. It has been a busy time with both Holi and Easter around at the same time and so many other commitments. For those who don't know about Holi - Holi is a Hindu Spring Festival celebrated in March. It signifies the ultimate victory of good over evil. 

Holi has its origins in the legend of Prahlad an ardent Lord Vishnu devotee and son of King Hiranyakashyapu. The King had been granted a boon by Lord Brahma (creator). The boon was due to his long penance, after which he had demanded that he not be killed "during day or night; inside the home or outside, not on earth or in the sky; neither by a man nor an animal; neither by astra nor by shastra". Consequently, he grew arrogant and attacked the Heavens and the Earth. He demanded that people stop worshipping gods and start praying to him. Prahlad, the King's son continued to be devoted to Vishnu which angered the King and he decided to kill his son. He tried many different methods of killing him but failed. Finally, he ordered young Prahlada to sit on a pyre in the lap of Holika, Hiranyakashipu's demoness sister, who also could not die because she had a boon preventing her from being burned by fire. Prahlada readily accepted his father's orders, and prayed to Lord Vishnu to keep him safe. When the fire started, everyone watched in amazement as Holika burnt to death, while Prahlada survived unharmed. The salvation of Prahlad and burning of Holika is celebrated as Holi.The burning of the bonfire during the festivities signifies the burning of Holika even today.

The festival also has links to Lord Krishna and his playful nature and love for Radha. The colour throwing part of the festival may have its origins here. Gulaal (the colour pink) is the most common colour thrown during the celebration. It is a fun filled, exuberant festival enjoyed by everyone. 


Myths and Origins of Holi

Holi is my favourite festival. During my school years I would have my friends over and we played Holi on our terrace or the family would get together and play. We would throw colours, water balloons and pichkaris (water guns) and get so dirty by the end of it all, totally unrecognizable.  Mom would make some delicious snacks which we gorged on after getting cleaned up. The traces of colours would sometimes stay on and when we would go to school the next day, we could tell who has played Holi and who had not.

I was missing the Holi festivities in India, it has been a long time since I was in India during Holi. There is a Holi Mela scheduled to happen on the weekend of April 6-7 at Darling Harbour. I can't wait to go sample some good food and get all coloured up in the colours of Holi. So if you live in Sydney and like Indian food and dont mind getting a little coloured up then check this out Holi Mahotsav Sydney

In the mean time I decided to indulge in creating something new and exciting. Gujiya is a traditional Indian sweet preared during Holi. I initially thought of making Gujiya but then decided to use those flavours in creating a cupcake. I have been wanting to use traditional sweet inspirations in creating modern desserts for a while and this was a great occasion to be doing it. Gujiya is basically pastry filled with coconut, cashew nuts, mawa, cardamom and then sealed to form little dumplings and then fried. 

Taking Gujiya as my inspiration I set out to make my cupcakes. The cake is vanilla-cardamom flavoured. The icing is saffron and cardamom flavoured with toasted coconut and cashews sprinkled on top. The cupcakes were a huge success, I was so pleased with the taste and texture. It really tasted like an Indian sweet and the frosting tasted like Shrikhand ( a popular dessert made of thick yoghurt mixed with saffron and cardamom) Hubby was both amused and amazed and scoffed down a few last night. I am pleased with the experimentation and happy that the flavours worked and I was successful in re-creating the Indian sweet flavours in a new form.



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Recipe                                                              Print Recipe

Yields 8


50 g Softened Unsalted Butter

85 g caster Sugar

1 tsp Vanilla

1 tsp Cardamom Powder

1 Egg

100 g Self Raising Flour

65 g Milk

Saffron Frosting

2-3 tbsp Warm Milk

100 g Spreadable cream cheese

50 g Softened Unsalted Butter

3 tbsp Icing Sugar

Cardamom Powder

10 Saffron threads

3 tbsp roughly chopped cashew nuts

2 tbsp dessicated coconut

Red Food colouring (if using)


Preheat oven to 180 C. 

In a medium sized bowl, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla till light and fluffy. Gradually mix in the egg. Add the cardamom powder, half the flour and half the milk and mix well. Now add rest of the flour and milk.

Line a muffin tray with 8 cases and fill with batter till 3/4 full and put it in the pre heated oven for 20 minutes, the cup cakes should have a light golden colour, well risen and cooked through. A skewer should come out clean when inserted in the center. Let the cupcakes cool on a cooling rack.


Saffron Cardamom Frosting

Soak the saffron threads in warm milk and keep aside till the milk is coloured golden. 

Cream the butter and icing sugar till pale and fluffy. Add the saffron-milk mixture followed by cardamom powder and cream cheese. Beat the mixture till it is smooth fluffy and of a thick consitency that can be easily piped. (taste the frosting to check for sweetness and flavour, add sugar or cardamom if required) 

Saffron Cardamom Frosting

Divide the mixture into two halves and colour one half with a few drops of red food colouring, I wanted a pink colour but probably added a little too much red and got a deep pink instead. You can leave the food colouring out altogether, I was just going for a colourful Holi themed dessert. I filled two piping bags with the two batches of icing and piped a rose swirl on the cupcakes. 

To toast the coconut, take a pan and add the dessicated coconut to it and lightly toast it on low heat till golden.

Toasted Coconut

In a mortar and pestle lightly pound the cashews to roughly break them up.

Pounded cashew nuts

The cupcakes looked so pretty that I did not feel like adding the coconut and cashews, but did it anyway to give it that extra crunchiness and flavour. It had to have coconut and cashew nuts the essence of gujiya. I am glad I did as they tasted wonderful.



  1. Now that's the right way to celebrate Holi! Beautiful pictures and what a lovely idea Srishti.

  2. Genius! Am about to break into song... 'khaike cupcake banaras wala' ;-)

  3. Thanks Lata :) Hope you had a fun filled holi. And Aliya I hope you get to come here soon to sample them and break into your song and dance routine :-)

  4. delicious cupcakes