Christmas spread, the modern way

Christmas spread, the modern way

This festive season, indulge your taste buds with some innovative versions of traditional Christmas dishes

Roasted turkey, a classic Christmas meal

Christmas is all about warmth and spending quality time with family. The same reflects in the Christmas meals that are all about heartwarming savouries and desserts, and not to forget, hearty mulled wine. But just like everything else in the world, Christmas meals and dishes are also evolving to suit contemporary tastes. Let’s take a look at some of the changing tastes and traditions:

Yummy treats

Sudip Mishra, executive chef, Bengaluru Marriott Whitefield, says, “Some of the popular Christmas favourites include roasted turkey with cranberry sauce, Christmas plum pudding with warm brandy sauce, Stollen bread, mince & fruit pies, Christmas plum cake, gingerbread cookies, Dundee cake, mulled wine, amongst others. Christmas is all about traditions; the yule log, being one of the most traditional dish in the fold, has been given modern touches by many. At Bengaluru Marriott Hotel Whitefield, we have given a twist to this traditional dish by creating flavoured versions of it like strawberry, passion fruit, etc. We have also created sandwiched gingerbread cookies. A must-have is the honey glazed ham. Of course, roasted turkey sits atop the list of the savouries. If you prefer light desserts, Christmas meringues are perfect. The good thing about Christmas is there are so many things to try that you’ll probably never run out of options.”

For the love of cake

Cake mixing is a centuries-old tradition that originated in Europe to mark the arrival of the festive Christmas season. “The delicious mix includes nuts, raisins, apricots, almonds, dried figs, pistachios, cherries, black currants, dates and dark rum. The conventional Christmas cake mixing event is held in advance to allow the nuts, dry fruits and assorted spirits to infuse perfectly. These dry fruits are then used to prepare Christmas treats such as plum cake, plum pudding and the decadent Stollen bread,” says Tapas Palai, pastry chef, Sheraton Hyderabad Hotel Gachibowli.

Fruit cake
Fruit cake

Indian Xmas

Manish Uniyal, head chef, Hyatt Centric MG Road Bangalore, lists popular Christmas foods from India, including pork asado from goa, tharavu roast (duck) from Kerala, and Christmas rose cookies from Karnataka. “India has a very diverse population that varies in cultures and traditions: in the South, we have Syrian Christian cuisine from Kerala with prominent use of cinnamon, black pepper, cloves and coconut milk. Northeast India has a rustic approach to their food with meats featuring heavy on their menus.”

Vegan delights

With the increase in popularity of vegetarianism and vegan food, plant-based mock meats are surely going to be trending this season. “Using ethnic produces to give a new dimension to food is the new go-to style: using kokum to flavour poached fish or marathi moggu (kapok buds) for a roast rub produces some really offbeat flavours. Macerating your house spirits with local spices and herbs to make ethnic liqueur is also a tweak to the tradition. Apart from the most popular dishes such as mince pies, Stollen bread and plum cakes, grasshopper pies, nutty nougat barks and Polish borscht will be adding flavour to this season,” he says. 

There are numerous ongoing trends in the food industry. The usage of fresh seasonal fruits and organic ingredients made from scratch has most definitely increased. In terms of food traditions being tweaked, chefs are switching to healthier alternatives of original ingredients. For instance, pastry chefs are introducing flourless and sugar-free desserts now.

Fancy a cup of tea?

Radhikas Fine Teas & Whatnots has introduced an organic Christmas chai. This year, they have added another exciting innovation where Assam tea is the hero blended with organic herbs and spices that resonate with hope and happiness to match the weather and mood. “This includes aromatic spiced chai, mukhwas chai and golden chai. Tea specific to Christmas means warm, smooth and brisk notes, thus use of spices and herbs such as liquorice, cloves, cardamom & cinnamon. In the mukhwas tea, we use mint, rose flecks & fennel,” says Radhika Batra Shah, the founder of Radhikas Fine Teas & Whatnots. She adds that apart from getting queries about their Christmas-specific teas, they are also getting queries to set up tea bars and tea ceremonies paired with great food and music at Christmas parties.

Mulled wine is a popular Xmas treat
Mulled wine is a popular Xmas treat

Healthy take

All Heart is a health-conscious food brand thriving on the ideology of mixing healthy with taste, aimed at providing innovative, wholesome snacks to munch on all day long. The founder of All Heart, Aniket Kari, says, “All our meals are handmade, we use real seeds, and no preservatives, artificial flavour. With everyone taking the road to healthy eating, we are offering Christmas seeded crackers, which are a mix of chocolate sea salt crackers with fondant Xmas decoration, white chocolate with cranberries, and dark chocolate crackers along with peppermint chocolate seeded crackers.”