Serving up nostalgia

Serving up nostalgia

If there is one dessert that symbolises the spirit of Christmas, it is the rich plum pudding. What makes it so special? Chef Sabyasachi Gorai reveals his favourite heirloom recipe

Plum pudding

It’s Christmas, exclaims Chef Sabyasachi Gorai (Culinary Director, Byg Brewski Brewing Company), as he places two perfect ramekins of perfectly demoulded plum pudding on the table ready to be glazed. As you wait for the brandy mix to arrive, the culinary wizard swiftly pokes one of them releasing the aroma of spices. It is heady isn’t it, he says as he masterfully ‘snow dusts’ one while torching the other. Born in the Anglo-Indian community of Asansol, chef Gorai’s memories about Christmas was all about plum cakes and pudding — more pudding, he insisted. “For me, Christmas meant these delicious blocks of cakes and puddings arriving at our place from our neighbours. In fact, it was the
one reason that I would visit Wahid’s Confectionery. Owned by Anglo -Indians, it made one of the scrumptious cakes.”

“It was much later that I realised that what I loved most was the moist plum pudding and not the cake, which was good but drier.” Since then, the month of December for Chef Gorai has always been about baking plum pudding — and loads of it, with each year dedicated to the different plum cake, “I have had in my years of researching and travelling for food.”

This year however, the culinary director decided to pay ode to the legacy plum pudding he has grown with. Explaining the reason behind he says, “over the years, I have seen a lot of iteration of the rich dessert appear and somewhere the difference between the cake (which is dry) and pudding (which is baked on a water bath) seems to have disappeared. This year, I wanted to recreate the experience of having an ‘original pudding’ that most have grown up with.”

The first thing was to make it into smaller portions so each can have his own fill, the other was bringing in local ingredients and that classic Anglo-Indian technique. “So while the recipe has the traditional egg, flour, spice mix, rum-soaked dry fruits, the twist is the use of clarified brown butter along with nolen gur — and the warmed, hand pounded spice-mix that is made to palate.” 

The result is a warm, rich, moist pudding with a heady mix of tasting notes — with a touch of history.

(As told to Madhulika Dash)