My freshman year in college, I left my dorm one spring morning to find the basketball court nearby—always abandoned as far as I could tell—engulfed in color. Volleys of colored powder lobbed pell-mell into the air, followed by whoops of laughter, looked like refracted rainbows. Droplets of red, blue, yellow, and green, mixed with water, splashed bodies that had become unrecognizable. No one stopped to explain at the time that this was a celebration of Holi, the Hindu festival of color (and spring and love). They carried on, paint-encrusted and beaming.
This year, Holi fell on March 13. If you missed it—if Monday unfolded as usual, with no colorful delirium and only a brief pause in which you wondered why the Google Doodle showed the Google logo bespattered and speckled with dazzling hues, you’re not entirely out in the cold.
For inspiration, check out The Atlantic’s beautiful and moving gallery of photos from this year’s Holi festivities around India—in Delhi and Kolkata and Chennai. There are also these photos. (Next year, next year in Jaipur I told my friend.) Watch this slightly psychedelic video from the UK’s The Telegraph (of course they did).
But also, without a doubt, track down the Holi tart by Uma Iyer, the small-tart maven behind Tart-a-licious. She makes these three-bite wonders with love and the flavors of Thandai, a mix of spices and nuts that’s a Holi staple, usually mixed into a drink. Her usual business is in the making of bite-sized morsels with European flavors, but these she tops with a white-chocolate mousse infused with her own Thandai mix—cashew nuts, pistachios, almonds, cardamom, peppercorn, poppy seeds, watermelon seeds, rose petals. The filling is her take on a British pudding made with cardamom and sweetened with jaggery. The natural colors of the rose petals and pistachios give it a delicate festivity. (Holi powders optional!)
Iyer, who moved from California last year, has done other experiments with Indian fusion flavors: apricot halva with candied ginger and even a samosa tart on the savory side. “But the Holi tart is the one I’m really passionate about,” she says. “Holi was when I really started selling” (at the farmers market in Cupertino, CA).
You can find the tart along with her usual line-up at the McKinney farmers market this Saturday, 8am till noon. Why this weekend and not last? Last weekend Iyer was in California celebrating Holi.