10 Christmas Food Delicacies From India You Must Try
Visiting Kerala or Goa on Christmas? Here are 10 traditional Christmas dishes for a memorable feast.
The sun is a little less warm as the subtle chill in the breeze makes its presence felt. The occasional whiff of warm drinks, the ringing bells and the decked halls indicate that it is time to welcome the Christmas season.
Coming from an inter-religious family, the definition of the festive season keeps changing as each new month begins. As soon as we enter December, my father sits with his cutting board chopping walnuts for the cake, while my mother starts grinding rice to make my favourite sel rote (a sweet bread-like dish made with rice flour).
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My brother and I were in charge of the decorations, and, of course, indulging in the delicacies from both of our parents’ cultures. I always considered myself lucky as I got to enjoy treats from two different cultures.
While cakes, hot chocolate, and eggnog are mainly associated with Christmas, India — with its diverse cultures — has much more to offer. The Better India has compiled a list of Christmas delicacies from different states that you can try this Christmas.
1. Kerala’s Neyyappam
A native to god’s own country Kerala, Neyyappam is a delicacy prepared during festivities like Christmas. These are small, deep-fried rice cakes made with a simple batter comprising rice flour, all-purpose flour (maida), jaggery (or sugar), grated coconut, and cardamom. Deep-fried in ghee, the rice cakes have a smooth and buttery texture.
Shaped like discs with a slightly crispy exterior and a soft, fluffy interior, the delicacy feels like heaven on a plate.
Learn to make Neyyappam with this simple recipe.
2. Goa’s Bebinca
A testament to the rich culinary heritage of Goa, Bebinca stands as a captivating delicacy, especially cherished during festive seasons. Originating here, this layered dessert is a symphony of flavours that adds grandeur to any celebration.
Made with coconut milk, eggs, flour, and sugar, each layer is meticulously cooked or baked before the addition of the next, creating a delightful stack of flavours.
Learn to make this desert here.
3. Duck Moilee from Maharashtra
Coming from the Anglo-Indian kitchens of Maharashtra, the juicy duck meat dish is like a burst of flavour in your mouth. Also widely popular in Kerala, Christmas festivities are incomplete without this dish.
The dish is left to marinate in different spices and then cooked until tender so that the meat is soft and flavorful. It is usually served with steamed rice, allowing the flavours to blend seamlessly.
Try your hand at cooking this delicious dish with this easy recipe.
4. Nagaland’s Smoked pork with Zutho
A land of unique cultures, tribes and traditions, Nagaland’s Christmas is incomplete without Smoked pork and their favourite drink Zutho. As the name suggests, Naga smoked pork is dried pork traditionally smoked over an open fire. The smoking process and the right wood selection are extremely important for a flavourful dish.
It is usually paired with Zutho — a beer made out of fermented rice. The taste can range from mildly sweet to slightly sour, and the alcohol content varies depending on factors such as the length of fermentation.
5. Manipur’s Nga Atobia Thongba
Nga Atobia Thongba is a traditional Manipuri fish curry. In Manipuri, ‘Nga’ refers to fish, ‘Atobia’ means hot chilli, and ‘Thongba’ refers to a curry or stew. It sometimes also includes bamboo shoots and is often served with rice.
It highlights Manipur’s culinary heritage with its local ingredients and bold, spicy flavours. Often shared during festivals, this dish fosters a sense of community, bringing people together over its warm and inviting taste.
Learn how to make this spicy delicacy here.
6. Maharashtra’s Guava Cheese
Believe it or not, in Maharashtra, there’s a beloved Christmas delicacy that combines cheese and guava! It’s called ‘Perad’ or ‘Goiabada’. This sweet and fudgy treat is made from guava pulp, sugar, and sometimes a dash of lemon juice. It’s a unique and delicious part of the festive celebrations in the region.
To make this unusual yet delightful treat, you cook guava pulp with sugar until it becomes thick and fudgy. The mixture is then poured into moulds to cool and solidify. Once it’s set, you cut it into squares or diamonds, ready to be served and enjoyed!
Click here for the recipe for this delicious treat.
7. Goa’s Rose cookies
These crispy and intricate flower-shaped cookies are a traditional part of Goan Christmas sweets. Made by combining all-purpose flour, sugar, coconut milk, and eggs, these little cookies are shaped like flowers.
Some recipes may include a touch of rice flour for extra crispiness. The preparation of these cookies also reflects the culinary heritage of Goa, where the fusion of Indian and Portuguese influences has resulted in a unique and diverse range of dishes.
Click here for the full recipe.
8. Andhra Pradesh’s Gongura Mutton
Gongura Mutton is a must-have for Andhra Christmas feasts. This tangy curry combines goat meat with Gongura leaves, giving it a unique and flavorful twist. Served alongside rice, biryani, or Indian bread like naan or roti, the dish stands out with its distinctive sour taste.
The use of aromatic spices like mustard seeds, cumin seeds, ginger-garlic paste, and a blend of ground spices such as red chilli powder, turmeric powder, and coriander powder adds a rich and spicy aroma to this festive delicacy.
Check out the full recipe here.
9. Vivikam cake from Puducherry
The Vivikam cake, a Christmas tradition in Puducherry, is a rich delight with Creole roots. Packed with pure ghee, semolina, and a mix of alcohol-soaked raisins, cashew nuts, candied orange peels, and fruits, it’s a boozy and indulgent treat.
Typically made with rum or brandy, this cake gets better with age and can be stored for weeks without refrigeration. Enjoyed on Christmas Eve, it’s often paired with a glass of cognac for an extra festive touch.
Try out your hand at this delicacy using this recipe.
10. Allahadadi Cake
When discussing traditional Christmas dishes, omitting Allahabadi cake would be a crime. Hailing from Prayagraj, this cake has a melt-in-your-mouth quality that keeps its ingredients a delightful mystery.
It ingeniously combines petha (candied ash gourd), rum-soaked dried fruits and nuts, marmalade, desi ghee, and an array of spices including ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, fennel, and mace. The result is a fragrant, rich, and unmistakably desi confection that captures the essence of Christmas in every bite.
Check out more about this delicacy here.
So which of these dishes and desserts are you planning to try out this Christmas?
(Edited by Padmashree Pande)
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