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Christmas Treats in India

Dec 21, 2018 | 6 Mins

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‘Tis the season!

While the Portuguese, Dutch, French and British colonised the country, they also brought with them their festivals and dishes. Christianity in India dates back to 52 A.D. but Christmas celebrations were introduced in India much later by the Europeans.

Today, Christmas is celebrated with great fervour in India. Goa, parts of Kerala, Konkan region and most urban cities ring in the festival with homemade sweets, visiting friends and family to exchange gifts and having a merry time! No festival is complete without some festive dishes and the same can be said about Christmas as well. A plethora of sweets and savories are prepared and shared with each other as Kuswar (Christmas goodies). We’ve created a list of sweets that are generally enjoyed at this time in India!

A popular dish made in Goa during this time is the Baath (or Bathika cake). It is a fluffy and moist, semolina and coconut cake. In earlier times, the cake was baked in a stove top clay oven with hot coals placed on the lid.

Also known as Kidyo in the Konkan region, Kulkuls (pronounced as kalkals) are a popular Goan sweet made and enjoyed during Christmas time. The shaping of Kulkuls is a slightly technical process since it requires rolling the dough into swirls using a fork. A fun element is added when your friends or other family members get involved in the process (with Christmas songs playing in the background, of course)! These are deep fried and soaked in sugar syrup. Yum!

This is the Indian version of the classic Rum Cake that is a must-have during Christmas in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh. Made with petha, marmalade, fennel, nuts, ginger, rum and sugar, this is truly the ultimate Christmas cake!

A delectable coconut filling and crepes - all rolled into one! Pan rolls are one of the dishes that you will get to enjoy when you visit an East Indian’s home during Christmas. Pan Rolls are basically crepes with a stuffing of grated coconut and spices inside. They are made in Sri Lanka as well and go by the name ‘Pani Pol’. Keeping in tone with the Christmas celebrations, you can also add in some food colouring to the crepes’ batter so the festive spread is popping with colours!

Home chef Helen's Pan Rolls. Check out East Indian experiences taking place in Malad West and Mumbai here

Chenna Poda is a popular cheese-based dessert enjoyed in Odia on festive occasions. It originated from a small town called Nayagarh by a confectioner who invented the dessert by mistake. He had some cottage cheese leftover from the day’s sales so decided to add sugar and spices to it and placed it in a warm oven. Next morning, he discovered a pleasant-tasting dessert that sold like hot cakes when his customers tried it!

Home chef Ananya's Chhena Poda. Check out all Odia meal experiences in Mumbai here

Guava fruit was introduced by the Portuguese and with that came Guava Cheese. While the English-speaking population knows it as Guava Cheese, Portuguese-speaking regions and people call is Goiabada. In Goa, it also goes by the name, ‘Perad’. It is a soft and sticky sweet that can be served as a dessert, an element on a cheese platter or even spread on a slice of bread like marmalade or jam!

Marzipan is a sweet confection made with sugar and almond milk and it is commonly prepared and distributed among friends and family on festive occasions. It can be moulded into preferred shapes, used in biscuits or as a glazing that goes on top of the Christmas cake. In Goa and parts of Konkan region, cashew nuts are used instead of almonds. The Marzipan paste is also used to make Easter Eggs in Goa. Like most other Christmas sweets, Marzipan too was introduced by the Portuguese.m, but in the European countries, it was introduced by the Turks.

Neureos (pronounced new-ris) are what someone in India may also know as Gujiya or Karanji. Neureos are basically deep fried, flaky and crescent-shaped pastries with a sweet stuffing of coconut, jaggery and dry fruits. Also known as Nevris, it is also made on Ganesh Chaturthi and Diwali in Goan Saraswat homes in Goa. They can be prepared using a savoury filling as well but festivities call for something sweet!

Candied fruits, nuts, spirits and aromatic spices - an irresistible combination that makes the Plum Cake (or Fruit Cake) so famous today. It is available in stores all year around but there is a certain joy that comes from enjoying a slice of a freshly baked homemade fruit cake. :)

Tender Coconut Pudding is a light and subtly sweet dessert made in most Kerala homes on special occasions and festivals. Syrian Christian families and others who celebrate Christmas prepare Tender Coconut Pudding when friends and family come over to celebrate the day! In case you want to make the pudding at home, check out the recipe here

Home chef Shaheena's Tender Coconut Pudding. Check out details regarding her Malabari meal experience in Hadapsar, Pune here

Happy Feasting!


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  • indian christmas sweets

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