It's still three weeks to X'mas but who said frolic doesn't like advance planning? Aastha Atray Banan curates a mix of best eats from home chef kitchens
Christmas lovers swear that the best bit about winter holidays is the food their mothers whip up. And it's all pure decadence: succulent roast turkey; a delicious ham; a soft plum cake or crisp Christmas cookies. But what if you want to celebrate without the bother? Home chefs around Mumbai — from a list we hand-picked — are trying hard to give you a taste of tradition, with recipes passed down generations. Give them a ring, get ready to suit up and chow down.
Also read: Sweet goodies to gorge on this Christmas
Fernandes’ turkey isn’t bland, thanks to the sauces and ginger-garlic she uses in the stuffing. Pic/Shadab Khan
For Turkey and Ham
Ring CHRISTINA FERNANDES
Unlike that eaten in most parts of the world, Fernandez says her turkey isn't bland. "It's a full-bodied turkey full of meat mince, spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, cold cuts, vegetables and fruits," says the Anglo-Indian chef from Colaba. If it's her mother who influenced the marinade, it's her mother-in-law who has a hand in the stuffing. "My mom would use salt and pepper to garnish the stuffing. But my mother-in-law, who is Goan, adds a few sauces, including ketchup and some ginger garlic." Fernandez also makes two kinds of ham — the pineapple and rum glazed one and a bourbon and honey. "And my suckling looks like it does in storybooks, with an apple in its mouth," she laughs. The turkey comes with potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce and gravy.
Price: Rs 6,000 for 6.5-kilo bird
For Turkey and Ham
Ring JORDAN D'SOUZA
D'souza says the recipe he refers to has been handed down from his maternal great grandmother. His grandmother made it the exact same way, and so did his mother. D'souza has given it a tweak. "Usually, the stuffing comprises potatoes, veggies and bread. But these all decay fast, so when you cut your turkey, it may smell." Instead, the Anglo-Indian who run a catering business in Borivli, makes a stuffing of turkey and a few meats, dry fruit and cold cuts. You can choose from a range of roast sauces — traditional, Chinese, Mexican or continental. He treats the turkey for five days and cooks it right before the customer arrives because "we don't want to dry it out. Our turkeys are juicy." His ham is sourced from an organic farm in Badlapur and is tender. "It's the produce that makes the difference. You can feel it in the taste." D'souza's tip: Buy a
bigger bird since the turkey is usually all skin and bones.
Price: Rs 1,100 per kilo; depends on weight of bird
D'souza serves up suckling pig, turkey and ham
For Moist Fruit Cake
Ring LEAH DREGO
The homemaker and baker from Marol has a recipe for fruit cake that is more than 50 years old, and passed down the men of the home, instead of the ladies.
A secret spice powder gives Drego's fruit cake a taste kick
Her father and his brothers would bake cakes for birthdays, weddings and communions. "And my aunts used to take baking classes. So I grew up around caker-makers," she says. This one is as traditional as it gets, and Drego, who hails from an East Indian family is reluctant to reveal the "secret spice powder" she sprinkles to give it the taste kick. "I can't you anything at all," she giggles, but does share that it includes a mix of raisins, sultanas, cherries, cranberries, prunes or figs. Her cake's USP? Moistness.
Price: Rs 1,200 a kilo
For Mukked Wine
Ring ADITI KENI OF EATYADI
Keni follows a German recipe for her Mulled Wine. She ferments her own grapes till they reach a stage of more flavour-less alcohol. A certified wine specialist, Keni, reveals that the grapes are then mixed with an Indian wine before it's reduced. "Then come the spices like cinnamon and peppercorn, before it is reduced some more, down to one-third.
Keni says syrupy mulled wine is meant to be had luke warm
When it's syrupy, it's ready to be bottled." Last year, Keni sold 2,600 bottles, and this year, she has a mulled wine and cheese gift package on offer. "It's traditionally supposed to be drunk warm. You heat it a bit and serve it in a coffee mug." Did someone say, yum?
Price: Rs 700 per 350 ml bottle; package costs Rs 2,000
For Mince Pies
Ring CHEF ALOYSIUS D'SILVA OF VILLA VANDRE
D'Silva, who heads the kitchen at Villa Vandre, one of Pali Hill's most endearing eatery to serve stellar fare, says that he has been making mince pie since he was a kid, helping his family cut fruit for it late into the night.
Chef Aloysius D'Silva's crusty mince pies are a hit at Christmas lunch. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
It's been 15 years in the catering business, and that's enough time for regulars to have got addicted to his pie. "The key is the quality of the short crust pastry and the fruits.
Mistry says the short crust pastry is key to quality. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
That's our USP. I spice it with a mix of clove, nutmeg and other spices, and served it with crème Englaise (hot English custard). The mince is made of candied fruits," he says.
Price: Rs 100 per piece
Ring SHRADHA AGARWALLA OF THE DESSERT CART
Agarwalla, who has been sharpening her baking skills for four years, is known for her gingerbread men. Each 'man' carries the royal icing made from egg white and icing sugar — yes, so pure vegetarians, sorry. "It's fluffy and fresh," she says about her creation. Ginger and nutmeg add a dash of spice to the otherwise sweet recipe.
Price: A gingerbread man-and-lady for Rs 150
Agarwalla’s gingerbread cookies are laced with royal icing. Pic/Onkar Devlekar
For Crumbly Christmas Cake
Ring SHERZAD IRANI OF JIMMY BOY
Irani says other bakers take shortcuts when they make the Christmas cakes, but at Jimmy's, they don't scrimp on the good stuff. "Very few marinate the plums for six months, like they should be.
A juicy Christmas cake that comes out of a Parsi kitchen. Pic/Satej Shinde
You have to stick to the traditional recipe else it just doesn't taste the same." Although coming out of a kitchen that specialises in Parsi fare, the cake that comes out of this Fort eatery is juicy. Go get some.
Price: Rs 300 for ½ kg
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