Can’t make up your mind about what delicacies to prepare this Christmas? The 48Hrs team brings you a few mouth-watering options for this season as little inspiration to get you going and cook something desirable
Besides the festivities and the good cheer, if there’s one thing that Christmas has always been associated with, it’s the food! This is the best time to cook up a storm, and some people even have traditions running back generations. But, what’s on your plate this Christmas? We spoke to chefs around the city to find out what their favourite Christmas dish is, and also to people from the city about what they generally have on their Christmas table. And, just to keep things interesting, we’re also telling you about some weird Christmas food traditions from around the world.
Turkey & Caramelized Onion Sandwich in Garlic Focaccia
This easy Christmas meal serves four and is a favourite for executive chef Rahul Dhavale from Westin Mumbai Garden City.
320 g turkey mortadella, 200 g sliced onions, 120 g mayonnaise, 120 g Romaine lettuce, 40 g Dijon mustard, 80 g tomatoes (sliced), 80 g Swiss cheese, 60 g sugar, 10 g thyme, 50 g butter, 5 g salt, 5 g pepper powder, garlic focaccia bread and 60 g nachos
How to make it
- Add butter in a hot thick-bottomed pan and then add sliced onions. Sauté them till golden brown and add sugar and chopped fresh thyme. Cool it down and keep aside.
- Make mustard mayonnaise by adding the Dijon mustard to the mayonnaise.
- Cut the garlic focaccia bread into two horizontal slices and apply mustard mayonnaise over the top.
- Put all the stuffing together by layer — lettuce, slice tomatoes, turkey and caramelised onions. Season to taste.
- Put another piece of bread on top to complete the sandwich and cut into two.
- Serve cold with nachos.
Pondicherry Tamarind Duck
Chef Michael Swamy, food critic, food stylist and photographer, tells you how to prepare this succulent South Indian dish that’s both sweet and savoury. He tells us, “Recreating the flavours of our youth in our favourite dishes is what helps us revisit those memories. People remember dishes fondly as time goes by, because dishes like this duck are made rarely.” Try out this festive recipe:
For the duck
4 duck breasts, 2 tbsp cooking oil, 1 tbsp brown vinegar, 1 tsp black pepper powder, ½ tsp cayenne pepper, ½ tsp coriander powder, ½ tsp cumin powder, ½ tsp turmeric powder and salt to taste
For the tamarind sauce
8g coriander seeds, 3 dried red chillies, 1 cinnamon, 1 tbsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp black peppercorns, ½ tsp cloves, 125ml fresh coconut (desiccated and roasted), 150ml water (divided), 1 tbsp cooking oil, 125 g tamarind pulp, 2 finely chopped lemongrass stalks, 2 tsp palm sugar, salt to taste
How to make it
For the tamarind sauce
- Dry roast the coriander seeds, dried red chillies, cinnamon, cumin seeds, black peppercorns and cloves till they slightly change colour and then set aside to cool
- Once they cool down, put the roasted spices into a food processor and then add in the desiccated coconut with 70ml water.
- Pulse it until you get a smooth paste.
- In a saucepan, heat cooking oil and add the spice paste, then sauté for a minute.
- Add the tamarind pulp, chopped lemongrass, palm sugar and season with salt.
- Add in the remaining water and bring the sauce to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for around 2 to 3 minutes.
- Strain the tamarind sauce through a fine sieve.
For the dish
- Mix the cooking oil, brown vinegar, black pepper powder, cayenne pepper, coriander powder, cumin powder, turmeric powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Rub this onto the duck breast and set aside to marinate for about 2 hours.
- Place the marinated duck breast on a baking tray and cover it with aluminium foil. Roast it for about 20 to 25 minutes in a preheated oven set to 180°C.
- Remove the aluminium foil and continue roasting it for a few minutes.
- Drizzle tamarind sauce over the duck breast and serve hot.
Moist Christmas Pudding
This isn’t so much a Christmas meal as it’s a dessert for the holiday season, but Chef Michael Swamy can’t get enough of it. Read on to know if you fancy his version:
450 g raisins, 450 g pitted and minced prunes, 450 g dried currants, 450 g glaceed minced cherries, 170 g glace minced lemon peel, 170 g glaceed minced orange peel, 750 ml red wine, 750 ml rum, 900 g brown sugar, 4½ cupcake flour, 4 tsp baking powder, ½ tsp grated nutmeg, ½ tsp cinnamon powder, 2 cups butter, 10 large eggs and 2 vanilla pods
How to make it
- Mince the fruits and macerate it in rum and wine for three months in a sealed container or simply soak it for a week.
- Split the vanilla pod and macerate in the fruit mix.
- Stir occasionally and then let it sit at room temperature.
- Dissolve half the sugar in a cup of water, reduce and darken it slightly along with a vanilla pod. Sift the flour, cinnamon and nutmeg together.
- Cream butter and half the sugar till it’s light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time then combine the flour with the mixed fruit.
- Whisk in the egg whites, then fold them into the yolks alternately with the floured fruit.
- Grease and line three large pudding bowls. Fill in the mixture to about three quarters full and cover the tops with a piece of foil.
- Put the bowls in a bain marie or a pan filled with water, cook it on a stove for up to 2 hours. Insert tester to check before removing.
- Cool the cakes.
- Wrap in cling film for a few days to let the flavours mix.
- Brush on a layer of jam. Then place rolled marzipan on top.
- Moisten marzipan with water before placing sugar paste on top.
WHAT’S ON YOUR CHRISTMAS TABLE
“Every Christmas, the Fernandes family comes together for a warm, homecooked meal after midnight mass at the church. We enjoy the meal as a family with our children, Karen and Kim. I always make my traditional Goan sorpotel — a pork pickled curry with vinegar and spices — it’s cooked and then generally left to cure for a day to bring out the best flavours in the dish. The recipe has been passed down from Goa by our great grandmother. It is a red masala-based dish and tastes best when combined with a simple pulav or even bread!
We have been cooking this for three generations and will continue to do so by passing on the recipe to our children. It is only after having this Christmas dinner together as a family, that our children are allowed to go out and celebrate or party with their friends on Christmas Eve.”
— Hilda Fernandes, Homemaker
“We make a royal Christmas feast every year — or so my friends tell me! and I cook all these dishes, nothing is bought or ordered from anywhere. I try to include all the traditional recipes such as Shepherd’s pie, roast turkey or chicken, Christmas ham, mashed potatoes and mince pie. There is a lot of meat on the table and that seems to be what my guests like! We have a gala time and apart from eating the delicious meal that I cook, we spend time with each other and make memories.”
— Sushil Charles, Owner, Smashh The Salon
“It just isn’t Christmas without some stuffed roast chicken. It’s been a Christmas tradition at my house for years now. Dad stuffs the chicken with sausages, croutons and, of course, bacon!”
— Faye Rodrigues, Digital Marketing Manager
“We have starters such as cheese board with Swiss, Brie, Parmesan, grapes, organic raw honey and a fig and almond cake. We also have fresh bread that we got from a local bakery. All the dishes are from local farms and bakeries. Christmas is when everyone gives back to the community, so it’s important to support local business and use locally-produced ingredients whenever you can.
— Naomi Sampat, Student
“These are pictures of our Christmas family lunch. We usually prepare a leg of ham or roast chicken for Christmas. We also indulge some seafood dishes, along with some traditional Goan recipes, since that’s where we are from. We also prepare Mutton Xacuti. The dishes we prepare are normally accompanied with some fancy salad, pulao, garlic bread, sannas etc. We believe that Christmas is a time of tradition, therefore our menu varies only in terms of salads and accompaniments; our main dishes remain the same.
— Lisa Viegas, Homemaker
CHRISTMAS FOOD TRADITIONS
Your family may have a Christmas dinner tradition, but some of these food traditions we came across were too interesting not to share! Here are some of the strangest Christmas food traditions from around the world.
Make a wish
A delicious pudding may be synonymous with Christmas Day, but here is a tradition we love! In British households, the making of the Christmas pudding grants you one wish. All members of the family, especially the children, must stir the pudding mixture (in a clockwise direction) and make a wish. A similar tradition involved putting a coin into the mixture. It was believed that the one who gets it in their helping of pudding would bring in wealth for the family.
We all love Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), but Japan takes its love for the fried chicken brand to another level by replacing the traditional Christmas turkey with KFC chicken! It is believed that at least 2,40,000 barrels of fried chicken are sold at KFC outlets in Japan every Christmas — each barrel is a serving of 21 pieces of chicken, so that’s over 5 million pieces of chicken! The tradition has been in effect since 1974 when Christmas wasn’t widely celebrated in Japan and foreigners went out looking for chicken instead of turkey for their Christmas meal. The craze has reached a point where the Japanese reserve their fried chicken two months in advance!
In Sweden, you eat rice pudding at Christmas before or after the Smorgasbord. And, the big question is, who will get the almond? The Swedish put one peeled almond in the rice pudding and it is believed that the lucky one who gets will get married within a year. Strange, isn’t it?
Throw out that pudding
But, not all of it! A rather quirky tradition in Slovakia is where the head of the family throws a spoonful of loksa pudding at the ceiling. It is believed that if a lot of the pudding sticks to the ceiling the following year will see a bumper crop harvest.