Tongue roast and salt meat

Tongue roast  and salt meat

William Devadas and family

Growing up in Calcutta, I am what you’d call a Tambeng (OK, so I just made that up!) And here’s what we Tamil Christians there waited all year to eat apart from the cakes, rose cookies and kalkals: Salt meat and tongue roast (it involved our elders making several trips to the butcher and promising perdition if he didn’t deliver in time!), stuffed duck or chicken roast, lots and lots of cold cuts, biryani (for all special occasions) or coconut rice, meatball curry, vindaloo. I thought all this was part of the colonial hangover and limited only to Calcuttans till I had a chat with William Devadas, a Tamilian based in Bangalore.

William’s Christmas is typically spent with his extended family. They all go for midnight mass and head for his elder brother’s house for dinner. The next morning, the family gets together again for an elaborate lunch and by evening, he’s back at home to play host to his friends.

And what are the meals all about? The menu’s something like this: Roast beef and pork vindaloo for breakfast; biryani, meatball curry, dry chicken dish, fish, pork and sausages (all the meats, in short!) for lunch and turkey, cold cuts, wine and cheese for dinner.

Of course, the menu’s not as elaborate as it was before, what with the restrictions on red meat. But, as they’d say in Calcutta, Christmas khana is still ‘burra khana’.

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