Today is Raksha Bandhan, the Indian festival that celebrates sibling love, the bother-sister relationship, and a lifelong bond of togetherness. It is the day siblings vow to protect the other and worship and pray for each other’s long life, happiness and prosperity. The silky embellished threads of love are symbolically tied on the brother’s wrist by his sister, and the day is celebrated with sweets, treats, gifts and happiness. Bengalis would generally consider “Bhai phota” (called Bhai dooj in Hindi, another festival that celebrates the bother-sister bond) to be more significant. It is one of the main festivals that Bengalis observe. Therefore, culturally, Raksha Bandhan does not come across to them to be as important as the other.
But I grew up in the northern plains of India. And just as everyone else who grows away from their native, my family absorbed a lot from the north and made most of it’s festivities, their own. Like a new color would diffuse into water and get even. Papa would always tell us, “preserve the good things in your heart that’re yours…and keep imbibing new goodness on your way!” So, we grew up giving equal significance to Rakhi and Bhai Phota. The beauty of coexistence, you see!
I have a younger brother and I fondly call him Bhai. Since ever, I’ve either tied Rakhi on his wrist myself, or when away, I’d send him one, from wherever I was on this day. As was the case in several recent years, I am half-way across the globe, away from him today. I did ship him a Rakhi last month. One that he would tie on his wrist without me this morning. I visited him in March this year. March because it worked best for us and was a feasible time. However, on Rakhi, I always feel like running back to India with all my might. To see Bhai, hug him, argue with him, frown at him — that has been our idea of sibling love and being with each other! We’ve always been this weird — like one minute, we’d want to strangle the other and then the next minute, we’ll be glued together inseparably. We are how we are, and we love the other dearly for that! Not that I don’t think of him the other days. In fact, I believe in celebrating kinship all year round, lifelong! But come this day and it just feels so drab without Bhai. I start missing him a lot much more!
No matter how far we may have come in our lives and no matter how far apart in this world we may live, nothing changes the fact that he and I shall always remain together, locked in time. That he and I began our journeys in life together, rowing through the waters on the same boat. That he and I set our first baby steps together on earth, held each other and learnt how to laugh. And that this life and destiny shall always keep us connected with each other, geography irrespective!
In northern parts of India, on Rakhi, it is customary that the brothers gift their sisters a little something as a token of love. And Bengali traditions (at least what I have known and seen in my family) have it for the older sibling to gift the younger. Now if the rules are to be followed right, then every Rakhi Bhai owed me one. However, younger siblings being the cute little devils they are, know how to crawl out their ways! And he would take a gift from me on both occasion — on Bhai Phota, as well as on Rakhi. And my little goody bag that he is, I had always happily let him do that. Nonetheless, Rakhi’s is a very happy day. And I would not let a sister’s sibling separation anxiety take over this post today.
Rakhi rituals have a lot to do with sweets. The sweetness of a relationship reinforced and realized, definitely calls for sweet treats. Celebration of Rakhi also marks exchange of sweets by the siblings. On every distant Rakhi, so far, I’ve been ordering chocolates, sweets and nuts to be delivered to Bhai without fail. However, I’ve broken my trend this time. I haven’t sent him a packet of sweet for today. Because he and I are controlling our sugar intake these days and wish clean eating for each other.
Here’s wishing the same for all siblings celebrating Rakhi across the Nation today. I am sharing a super easy, two ingredient recipe, for Frozen Strawberry yogurt popsicles. The idea came from a friend and neighbor, who freezes strawberries on food pricks for her kids. And covering them with yogurt before freezing occurred naturally to her and me as a fun idea! Right after the recipe, I have also mentioned an alternative method to do a “sweeter” version of my yogurt covered strawberries (please read the “variation” section at the end). But today, I chose to prepare these absolutely guilt-free for Rakhi, and thus made them with plain Greek yogurt.
Strawberries are one of nature’s best superfoods And yogurts provides all it’s mighty goodness to us. Together they are quite the exceptional nutrition and the kind of treat, one may need for a summer festivity. And just as how the strawberry is wrapped and soaked in yogurt love and they both freeze together into a delightfully healthy sweet treat….may all siblings be also joined at their hearts and minds and together radiate out those extraordinary rays of love, light, laughter, happiness, peace, respect, harmony and everything optimistic to make this world a teensy bit better.
May everyone have a blessed, healthy and bright day, today!
What you need⇒
Serves 3 – 6
6 fresh ripe strawberries
Plain or flavored Greek Yogurt — enough quantity to coat the berries
6 Popsicle sticks or food pricks
Wipe the strawberries with a clean tissue, since we do not want them wet.
Slice out the crown of leaves from the strawberries.
Insert one popsicle stick or a food prick into each of the strawberries.
Place the chilled and thick creamy yogurt in a bowl or a wide mouth container.
Holding the stick/prick, dip one strawberry into the yogurt and swirl nicely to coat the yogurt all around well. Place the yogurt covered strawberry on a freezer safe plate.
Repeat for all strawberries.
Immediately place the plate with the coated strawberries in the freezer, and freeze for at least 4-6 hours.
Take out and check the yogurt-coat thickness. If you desire a thicker cover, repeat steps 5 and 6 again to get a 2nd yogurt coating on the strawberries and freeze overnight or for 4-6 hours minimum.
Eat, enjoy and share the frozen strawberry happiness. Isn’t it fun? And so much better than an ice-pop?
Vanilla or strawberry flavored Greek yogurt are two great choices for making these popsicles. Or pick and choose another flavored Greek that you love. However, I did it with plain Greek to go zero-sugar!
To make homemade Strawberry flavored Greek yogurt (one way to avoid commercially sweetened products) → Blend 4 hulled strawberries and fold to mix the puree gently in a cup of (about 250 ml) of plain Greek yogurt. A brisk, whisk or stir may result in thinning of the rich yogurt texture, and thus poor strawberry coats. Add sugar to taste. Using this ratio, scale up to make enough quantities of the yogurt as may be required to cover the strawberries. Then proceed to coat the strawberries in it as mentioned under the “method” section above. If after mixing in the strawberry puree and sugar, you find the yogurt too thin, place them in a muslin cloth, tie together and hang for sometime until the yogurt is thick and rich enough to coat the fruits well.
Greek yogurts work best because they are thicker, richer and creamier, compared to regular yogurts and will not drop off the berry easily. However, if you’d like to use regular non-Greek yogurt (and if you find it not as thick and creamy), one good idea could be to tie enough of the yogurt in a muslin cloth and hang for an hour or 2, so the extra moisture can be got rid of. What remains should be ideal to coat the strawberries!
The popsicle sticks and the food pricks make it just a little easier to handle while coating and eating. However, you may always coat the fruits without having to prick a stick into them!
After coating in yogurt, you may also add on some candy sprinkles or toppings to make it look more applealing and kid-pleasing!
I am Moutushi aka Mou – a Mom, wife, daughter, big sister – and a Happy Chef at that – A foodie who cooks, writes, photographs her food. OnceUponASupper is a journal of my potpourri of recipes and belly good food-y tales. Thanks for stopping by. Have a delicious stay here & dig in!