Christmas Feasts of India

Oh ho and Christmas is here! This morning, December 20th, I was pleased to feel another round of Christmas Cheer as I opened the newspaper and saw this: Our Christmas Feasts! It was the center spread of The Express Times Sunday Magazine, where Nupur Amarnath had written this piece which was cheerfully illustrated by Anirban Bora!

The first round of Christmas cheer I felt a few weeks ago on a Sunday when I found time to set up the Christmas Tree! It was a joyful event for our daughter who rushed back from school on the day the Christmas Tree was set up. She and her friends got together and created a star, Christmas Gift packets and their own decorations for the tree. Some of them have survived even after the kids have flown and a few decades have gone by! I feel the same excitement and Cheer setting up the Christmas tree as when the kids enjoyed it. So here is to this years’ Christmas Tree to spread the cheer! The huge Star, Christmas gift and Santa survived in Santa’s Wonderland!

To get back to the article of this morning, joy of the day. Nupur’s piece in the paper highlighted the Christmas cuisine of various cities and states of India. Mumbai had a bite of Guava Cheese, Goa had the famous Vindaloo, Mangaluru knew its Kuswar, Jharkhand”s Dhuska, Arsa and Lakra, Nagaland’s pork and Axone, and Manipur’s pork and rice!! What fascinated me was Kerala: God’s Own Pantry! You guessed, it’s in my blood!

God’s Own Pantry from God’s Own Country left me with water in my mouth as I remembered a large number of these dishes. Appam and stew, chicken though, was a must for breakfast on Christmas day. Am considering Appam and veg stew for breakfast this year! Vattayaappam and duck mappas are way beyond my ken! But Kozhi pidi brought childhood memories. Kozhi is chicken, but this pidi is simply tiny rice dumplings, that we were fooled with as children! Kozhi pidi is highly overrated. In my mother’s hometown, Kunnamkulam, Trichur district in Kerala, as kids we were set up to make these tiny balls from kneaded rice powder. It took ages as it was made in large quantities for the huge family gathering. We slogged and waited thinking that something really tasty would show up. It was basically boiled or steamed and tasted like what my North Indian husband first thought ‘Puttu’ tasted: sawdust! Of course it became very tasty when served with yummy chicken curry!

Nupur’s article had another surprise! The Allahabad Cake: a rich fruitcake made with ghee and a pinch of garam masala! Trust the North Indians. I was pleased though as I never knew my husband’s pedigree was interested in cake, no matter if it was made in ghee!

Wishing all friends and readers a very Merry Christmas!

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