Eating a rainbow: Festival of Colours with Ivor Peters, Urban Rajah

By
Eve O'Sullivan
Added
06 March, 2015

We meet Ivor Peters, aka Urban Rajah, a food writer and chef, to talk all things food at Holi.

Holi Festival of COlours Ivor Peters

Can you give a brief explanation of the Holi festival?

Holi is more commonly known as the festival of colour, with its origins in the Hindu faith and like many religious festivals is widely celebrated by all because of its significance, which occurs on the last full moon of the lunar month in February or March. It’s a fabulously riotous affair, where young, old, men women and children, rich and poor splatter each other with a mix of powdered paint, mixed with water celebrating the start of spring’s abundance of colour. Holi is indiscriminate, everybody is illuminated by the spectrum of the rainbow regardless of status or stature. It’s a time when people say goodbye to the dark heavy months, which are a metaphor for broken relationships, past squabbles and disagreements, and a time to forgive, make good and renew.
 

What are your favourite memories from previous years?

Laughter, colour and the chance to drench your mates and elders in paint! In many ways, now as an adult it’s a way of being in the moment with childlike fervour…play is something that we lose the value of as we grow up. Thank goodness festivals like Holi restore the ability to indulge in fun.
 

How do you normally celebrate?

With abandon!
 

What dish do you most associate with it?

Hmmm that’s hard. There are so many festival foods to choose from particularly Indian sweets, so I’m going to be greedy here and choose two things; my first being a savoury – Kachoris are little puffed bread snacks stuffed with spiced dhal, deliciously light and one is never enough. The second is Malpuas, they’re like Indian pancakes dipped in sugar syrup.
 

How would you sum up the atmosphere of the festival?

It’s a jubilant time, family and friends come together in a multi-generational jamboree. Happiness drenches everyone in the colour of optimism.
 

What dishes are you most likely to cook?

I’m quite partial to stuffed aloo parathas, delicious flatbread stuffed with a spiced masala mash, the bread is daubed with spots of butter and then gently toasted on a tawa (rimless frying pan) until crispy on the outside and soft and mushed on the inside. Great with a glass of masala chai.
 

Are there any dishes you only cook for this celebration?

You know its Holi when Gujiyas are being passed around. They’re like little fried pastry bombs of whole wheat flour, with a sweet filling of dried fruits and crumbled evaporated milk known as khoya, all complemented with crushed almonds and pistachios. There’s a reason these don’t hang around for long…they awaken the glutton lurking inside everyone.
 

What does Holi mean to you?

A time to re-visit aspirations and dreams and be invigorated by those dear to me…oh and get thoroughly soaked in the liberation that colour brings.  


Ivor will be hosting a masterclass at School of Wok, where you can learn how to prepare a menu fit for a Rajah. The total four-hour session including welcome glass of prosecco, ingredients, equipment and guidance, wine specially chosen to match your dishes and recipe sheets, £115, with a maximum of 12 people per class. The first class will commence on the 27th March 2015. Book by visiting www.schoolofwok.co.uk or calling the School of Wok office on 020 7240 8818.

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