4 Offbeat Christmas Treats In India You Didn’t Know About

4 Offbeat Christmas Treats In India You Didn’t Know About
While run-off-the-mill plum cakes are everywhere, have you tried Kolkata's decadent take on it?, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Did you know about these Christmas dishes?

Sharmistha Chaudhuri
December 23 , 2019
08 Min Read

Christmas in India is unique. Forget the run-of-the-mill plum cake, roast turkey and glasses of mulled wine that you see everywhere but instead, head to different parts across the country to taste authentic dishes that have become part of the melting pot of cultures that call India home.

Kuswar, as a friendly gesture

Kuswar is not a particular dish, rather a tradition associated with Christmas among Goan and Mangalorean Catholics involving food. Borrowed from the concept of consoada, a Portuguese tradition of making sweets, kuswar is home prepared food items that are made well in advance and then, a little of each are put on trays and sent to well wishers and family. The items (numbering between 20-22) can be baked, steamed or fried, be sweet or savoury, and every tray that goes out comes back with kuswar made in the other’s household. “Most popular were sweets made at home with rice flour, coconut, semolina, channa dal (Bengal gram) and palm jaggery. A few like bebinca, cakes, bolinhos, batica (batega) contained egg and were baked. Some did not make cakes as eggs and butter were costly. In fact, the Goan consoada had hardly any egg-based baked cakes,” says Fatima de Silva Gracias in her book Cozinha de Goa.

 
 
 
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A post shared by Melwyn Lewis (@melwynlewis) on Dec 26, 2018 at 12:29am PST

Pintyacha Sop before the feast

Think of a bowl of warm and comforting chicken soup on Christmas Eve. That is Pintyacha Sop (pronounced as 'soap') for you. This dish is a favourite among Maharashtra’s East Indian population, a community that traces their history back to 6th century CE, much before the Portuguese came to the western parts of the country in the 15th century. The soup is prepared before midnight mass and that’s the first thing people drink after returning from church - before the sweets come out.  

Of fruit cakes and Christmas lunches

Associated with areas that had a large colonial influence, Kolkata’s famed Christmas cake is the stuff of dreams. It’s been a symbol of Kolkata’s Christmas celebrations since the colonial era. Thes cakes can be found all year long if you look hard enough. Montoo’s, Saldanhas, Nahoums are old-world bakeries where orders fly off the shelves as Christmas nears. The fruit and plum cakes are rich and decadent, moist and marinated well. The city has seen many new patisseries open up but loyalists still prefer the cakes from old bakeries.

 
 
 
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Merry Christmas ðŸÂÂŽŠ Cakes and Christmas goes hand in hand 🍰 . âž¡ï¸ÂIn frame: Rich Fruit Cake from Nahoum's, Esplanade at Rs.300â¬ÂÂÂ…ï¸Â . âž¡ï¸ÂDrool Factor 🤤: ðŸÂÂÂ’¯ Fruit cake from Nahoum's during Christmas is a must have. The cake is buttery and packed with dried raisins, cashews and fruits😍â¬ÂÂÂ…ï¸Â . âž¡ï¸ÂLets dig into the old Calcutta Tales. This Jewish bakery opened in 1902 in the main market area of Esplanade and was patronised by British officers. Even today despite modern bakeries coming to the market, Nahoum's withstood the test of time and deserves a place in every Calcuttan's Heart ðŸÂÂ’“â¬ÂÂÂ…ï¸Â . âž–âž–âž–âž–âž–âž–âž–âž–âž–âž–âž–âž–âž–âž– Follow @the_bong_gastronomist âž–âž–âž–âž–âž–âž–âž–âž–âž–âž–âž–âž–âž–âž– . #cake #cakes #christmasparty #christmasfood #christmaseve #christmascake #fruitcake #fruitcakes #richfruitcake #nahoums #bakery #heritage #heritage #oldbakery #jewishbakery #oldcalcutta #kolkatabakery #livelifefoodsize #goodcake #yummy #100yearold #goodfoodgoodlife #newyearfood #foodislife #foodiesoul #igerindia #igcake #igcakes #🍰 #🍰🍰🍰

A post shared by Subham Hati (@the_bong_gastronomist) on Dec 24, 2018 at 9:34pm PST

 
 
 
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A post shared by Arijit Chaki (@arijit_chaki) on Feb 3, 2019 at 8:02am PST

Kolkata's Brit-era clubs are known for their unique Christmas spreads. Calcutta Club, The Bengal Club, Royal Calcutta Golf Club — all these places serve up a traditional lunch with roasts, gravy, bisques and plum cake with brandy butter sauce. If you have a club member friend, do make it a point to ask to be taken along.

Meat feasts in the Northeast

The Northeast region follows a meat-heavy diet during Christmas, prominently featuring pork preparations. Smoked pork and black sesame seeds are abundantly used in Meghalaya. In neighbouring Nagaland, ribs and pork cooked with bamboo shoot are popular preparations. In Manipur, gak jang is consumed with a chilli chutney while Mizoram’s chicken dish of kaukswe is a influence from the country next door—Myanmar. A lot of indigenous ingredients are used in the paste or fermentation form. And rice as an accompaniment is a staple.   


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