We all look forward to the holiday’s to spend time with our loved ones, stuffing ourselves with the best food and truly unwinding. Christmas is synonymous with good food and lots of presents and while going to restaurants with the best Christmas specials may be enticing, spending quality time at home is a much cosier and a less costly way of celebrating Christmas.
How is Christmas celebrated in India?
Christmas is certainly not as big a festival as Diwali or Holi, but it is celebrated by many in India. Typically referred to as ‘Bada Din’ or Big Day, Indian’s celebrate Christmas by attending Midnight Mass at church and hosting a big feast with family friends. This feast tends to include delicacies from all over India as part of eating ‘something special’ during this holiday.
What do Indian’s eat for Christmas?
Although you may not be able to cook traditional recipes with a whole roasted turkey or a rack of lamb, these Indian Christmas recipes are guaranteed to get you and your loved ones in the festive spirit. Whether you want to go a savoury route with chicken vindaloo and yakhni pulao or a sweet route with bebinca and Christmas cake, these food items will definitely make you feel the true spirit of the festival in India.
Savoury Indian Christmas Dish’s
1. Mughlai Biryani
Originating from the state of Hyderabad, this dish is world-famous for it’s authentic and flavourful taste. The royal Mughal family popularised this dish and it has now become a staple for any festive occasion. This biryani is so versatile that it can be cooked with mutton, chicken, prawns, beef or even fish. Its power-packed taste comes from the addition of a variety of spices like cloves, pepper, cinnamon, cashews and raisins. It is also prepped with ghee and served alongside raita ( curd with chopped vegetables). Although biryani may not be a traditional Christmas dish, it is guaranteed to be a hit at the dinner table, after all, it is never a bad time to enjoy a good biryani.
2. Yakhni Pulao
From the heart of Kashmir, this drool-worthy dish is a North Indian classic. Made with goat meat, lamb or chicken, it is prepped with a variety of spices like cinnamon, clove, cardamom, star anise to give it that signature flavour. An interesting feature about this dish is, some people choose to add a layer to dough on top of the utensil it is being cooked in to properly seal the aromatic scents and favours within it. It can be Served hot with a side dish of vegetable raita or curry. The rich flavour of the meat will certainly give you a proper ‘Christmas feast’ vibes and will ensure everyone leaves the table satisfied.
3. Pork Vindaloo
Goan’s love feasting on this traditional Christmas dinner dish as it is hearty and intensely flavoured. Its name comes from the Portuguese dish “Carne de Vinha d’ Alhos” which is prepped mostly with wine, garlic and pork. However, the Goans eventually modified the recipe and started preparing it with vinegar and red Kashmiri chillies to give it that signature Indian taste. Now, this dish is made by marinating cubes or pork in a spicy mixture of coriander seeds, chilli, garlic and ginger and cook until it is browned. It’s mildly spicy and tangy flavour is paired perfectly with Goan sannas or steamed white rice. Served in every Goan household on Christmas, this dish is a must if you want to wow your guests.
These steamed rice cakes are a speciality in Goa as they are made with 2 unique ingredients - fresh coconut and Goan toddy. Toddy is basically the sap that is collected from the sap of a palm tree and when freshly collected, it is extremely sweet
to taste. The batter is allowed to ferment for a couple of hours before it is steamed. Sanna is usually paired with a curry or a stir-fry and eaten. These make the perfect side dish for your Christmas dinner spread, especially if you are planning on making pork vindaloo.
5. Roasted Chicken
Any festive dinner would be incomplete without roasted chicken as it is relatively easy to make and almost everyone’s favourite. You can give it your own unique flavour by stuffing it with your choice of filling- a bundle of herbs like rosemary, thyme and garlic or even steamed vegetables to make it healthy. Some people even choose to put sweet potato and goat’s cheese to make it a true Christmas roast chicken, but the choice is yours to make. This dish can be paired with either bread or lacchaa paratha, based on your preference. This dish is part of every Christmas feast all around the world and should be included in your menu.
6. Nargisi Kofta
A kofta is basically a meatball that has been grilled or fried and then served in a spicy gravy. Meat encased hard-boiled eggs which are then deep-fried and put in a tangy and flavourful curry, Nargisi Kofta is guaranteed to impress your guests with its complex cooking technique. The meatball mixture consists of lamb, onion, garlic, ginger and a variety of spices to give it that flavourful taste and the tomato -yoghurt based curry is the perfect accompaniment to the spicy meatball. This dish is rich and will leave everyone at the table asking for a second helping. The rich flavours of the egg and the spicy lamb is perfect for a ‘Christmas Special’ item on the menu.
7. Butter Chicken
No Indian feast is complete without the scrumptious butter chicken. This rich and creamy dish is world-famous and a favourite of every chicken lover. The grilled chicken pieces are submerged in a creamy gravy made of tomato paste, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, onion, ginger garlic paste and a variety of powders like red chilli, cumin, coriander and turmeric. The addition of cashew nut and heavy cream, give it the signature taste. This dish is relatively easy to make and can be paired with almost any side dish. Although a more common dish than it’s counterparts, it will certainly be polished off. Butter chicken is a staple during every holiday and having it on the dinner menu during Christmas is no exception.
Sweet Indian Christmas Dish’s
1. Christmas cake
A Christmas feast will certainly lack the ‘oomph’ without a Christmas cake. Although some people choose to prep it months in advance by adding brandy to the cake at regular intervals, you could also choose to add dry fruits that have soaked in liquor to give it a similar taste. Cherries, strawberries, dry fruits and whipped cream give it the signature ‘Christmassy’ flavour and it is definitely a dessert that has to be included for a Christmas feast.
A Goan classic, this sweet dish is intricate and will require patience to make but in the end, the result is worth the time and effort. This layered pudding is made with coconut milk, eggs, sugar, ghee and flour. Although it traditionally consists of 16 layers, an amateur baker can also make it with a few.
3. Kulkuls (sweet curls)
Believed to be the Goan version of the traditional Portuguese filhoses enroladas, these Christmas sweets are made in many parts of India during Christmas. Although the process of making the dough, rolling it out, frying it and then coating it with sugar can be time-consuming, most families do it together as a Christmas holiday tradition.