When I was a child, my father would bring home plum cake with royal icing, chocolate cake with butter cream icing, assorted cakes, and many more treats on Christmas Eve. I used to look forward to Christmas all through the year just for this. When I got married in 1969, I received a baking oven as a wedding gift which kickstarted my love affair with baking. I used to make an elaborate Christmas Fruit Cake where we would start chopping the fruits 4 days in advance to soak in rum. After several decades, I stopped making this because it was very tedious, rum became difficult to get because of government regulations, and my son does not touch fruit cakes 🙂 When a friend enquired about fruit cakes on Facebook, I decided to come up with an easy-to-make, no-fuss Christmas Fruit Loaf that would still match the flavour of the traditional fruit cake.
Merry Christmas everyone! Every Christmas feast should have a dessert. Vennai Pittu derives its name from the Tamil word vennai which means ‘butter’ due to its soft and uniform consistency. This light and easy dessert is a delicious way to wind up the heavy protein-and-fat rich Christmas lunch or dinner.
Turkey meat is only used at Christmastime in Tamil Nadu – we don’t have Thanksgiving here, we prefer to complain all the time 🙂 We can’t just walk into a store and buy it either, we have to place an order in advance. Despite these difficulties, it is increasingly popular in Christmas biriyani, in place of the usual mutton or chicken. The flavour of turkey is so very different that the usual combination of spices and cooking method does not work. I have created this recipe keeping the spices to a minimum compared to the usual biriyanis and also used the bones to prepare stock to add richness. The turkey meat resembles mutton closely in texture, and therefore I have pressure cooked the meat to give a tender product.
At Christmas we see Christians thronging meat shops with money saved through the year for their annual Christmas feast. I once witnessed a family buying such a variety of meat at one go that I kept speaking about it for days, much to the amused exasperation of my family! Sausages are particularly popular during this season. They are usually only fried, but I wanted to try something different that people can serve when they celebrate with guests or family.
Advent rings the bell to start the Christmas baking season. These are ideal to serve guests or carolers who may drop in, since you can make around 50 cookies or more at one go with this recipe. They are also ideal to take with you when you go visiting. My daughter developed this recipe using cocoa powder instead of chocolate to arrive at these scrumptious dark chocolate cookies. They are also ideal for the Indian pocket as all chocolate is prohibitively expensive to use in cooking. The use of chocolate vermicelli in the recipe enhances the look and the taste.
An exotic and unusual dessert, especially if you have a sweet tooth and a fondness for coconut. In the Tamil Calendar, the month of Marghazhi (mid-December – mid-January) is the coldest month of the year, and people generally avoid frozen desserts during this time, even if the average temperature is only 25° C 🙂 This coconut ice is only chilled, and when served with cream makes a delightful end to a rich and spicy Christmas feast.
Biriyani is a choice festive dish or perhaps THE choice festive dish for most occasions. During Christmas, chicken or mutton biriyani is prepared in Christian homes. There are varieties of biriyani in India, every part having its own speciality. This chicken biriyani is Tamilian and my own version and a big favourite with the family. My children say the aroma from the kitchen makes them drool and become ravenously hungry when I make it.